Politics

How women can achieve gender balance in politics, by Akirinmola

Women Leader of Ekiti State chapter of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Mrs Folashade Akirinmola, in this interview with ADEWUMI ADEMIJU, speaks on the state of the party and women’s participation in politics, among other issues

 

How would you rate the level of women’s participation in politics ahead of the 2023 general election?

 

If we are talking about women’s participation in politics, I want to say that women are more involved now compared to when I newly joined politics. I joined politics in 2002.

Then we had few females were were into politics but when we are talk of present day, even if we don’t have much or a lot of women contesting for positions, at least we can see that women are more interested in joining political parties.

When we want to put it on a ratio, maybe put it on the average; we know that there are more women participating in politics compared to those days when they think that politics is meant for only drop-outs. But, these days, we have more women interested in joining and some have even joined. But, when we are talking about maybe women have been able to get to decision making bodies in the society, I want to say that we are not yet there.

We have not been able to get that number whether at the grassroots level; that is the local government and the Houses of Assembly before talking about the House of Representatives and Senate.

So, what I am saying in a nutshell is when we are talking about women’s occupation of elective positions, we don’t have the number. If you go to the Houses of Assembly and House of Representatives, we don’t have the number and you know that we need numbers for us to be able to push bills. We need a percentage of the numbers to be able to get bills passed in the House of Representatives or the Senate.

I want to say that is a challenge for female politicians but I want to believe it is only when you are part of the process. The first thing is joining a political party because Nigeria has not gotten to the level whereby one can be an independent candidate. You have to join a political party.

We have a lot of women doing that but the questions are: Are they visible in the political parties they decided to join, and they putting in their best? You know that some people will say ‘I am shy; I don’t want to be known.’ If you don’t want to be known, it will be very difficult for you to be recommended for a position whereby you can be part of decision-making.

It seems that allocation of 35 per cent of elective positions has not received positive response by the National Assembly. What implication does it have for women participation in politics?

It depends on the angle we are looking at it. You know that when we are talking about 35 per cent, no man, no constitution and no law will go and bring somebody from her house. You cannot just want to be a full housewife without doing the needful.

Thirty-five percent is only when you follow the process, the first process is for you to join a political party; the second process is to be visible in the party. Another stage is for you to contest an election. In Ekiti State, we have a Governor- elect, who would be sworn in soon. He will not go and bring someone who is not interested in politics.

Although they do it at times, it is not the best. You must be an active politician before you can talk of being given an elective position or appointment. In a situation whereby women fold their arms and not participate and we are talking about 35 percent, what do we do?

Internal crisis within the PDP has generated a lot of heat. The choice of a vice presidential candidate by the party, apparently did not go down well with the governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike. Don’t you think that this is a big challenge for the party, considering Wike’s influence in the South-South?

Even in families, there are always crises, so what is happening is not new for any political party. As a politician, I believe it is nothing to worry about. We all have our rights; the fact that we are in a political party does not turn us to be a moron who doesn’t know what is right.

Wike is not a governor, who can just be rubbished, but at that, the party still stands to be supreme. At any point in time, if a party takes decisions, there is nothing one can do. So, I want to believe that what is happening in our party is nothing to worry about; it cannot be used against Governor Wike.

I am very sure he is a party man and the presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, is a matured and elderly man, who knows how best to bring everybody on board. It’s a good thing  that we have misunderstanding, you know the more we are able to resolve crisis, the more the party move and forge ahead.

I am not the spokesperson of the party but, as an individual, I believe Governor Wike is a party person and I believe our incoming president by the grace of God, Atiku is a matured person. We will get everything resolved at the appropriate time.

The All Progressives Congress (APC) Muslim-Muslim ticket has generated a lot of controversy. What’s your take on that?

That might not be the best decision on the part of APC but the deed has been done, so there is nothing anyone can do about it. It’s just for the electorate to shine their eyes and know who to support come the next presidential election.

As a Christian, I see it as a slap; I see it as something not needed to be done in the first instance. I see it as something that is not good enough for the development of the country and for all Christian faithful. No Christian will be happy on that but there is nothing anybody can do.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has cleared them but the only thing is for the electorate to use their votes to tell the party that what they are doing is not right.

University students have been at home for months now. What do you have to say to the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and the Federal Government?

We should not toy with the future of these upcoming children. We should be sensitive to issue.

When we keep our under 18 at home, doing nothing for months, it’s like we are just ex-  pecting the worse situation in the future. The best should be for government to know that its responsibility should find a lasting solution to this continuous crisis.

No parent will say he or she is happy, not even those of us who do not have children again in universities. Even at that, knowing that some children are at home is not the best thing. It should count against the present government.

Though crises do come up but we should have machinery in place to get them solved. They should not wait for so long, they should think of the future of the children. Government should stop promise and fail agreement. Government shouldn’t speak with both sides of its mouth. I think ASUU has given them guidelines, so government should try as much as possible to do it. There should be sacrifice at both ends.

What is PDP in Ekiti doing to harmonize different fractions in the party?

I don’t know what you mean by that. We have only one party, which I am the state women leader. We don’t have factions within the party. We all know that one person cannot occupy two positions, and the national has not pronounced anyone; we are looking up to the national body of the party to tell us who would be the chairman of the party.

 

As an individual, the national should try to look at the plight of the masses. I think Deji Ogunsakin could be the best because he is young and vibrant. He has what it takes to occupy the position of chairman but that is my opinion. The party is supreme, so it will make a pronouncement at the appropriate time of who will be PDP chairman in Ekiti State.

Some people believe that Nigeria as a nation is not ripe enough to have a female president or female governor. What’s your take on that?

If we want a female president or a female governor, women should register a political party that will bring all women under one umbrella because each party has its guideline.

If you are in party A, and you want to go to another because party B has a female candidate, that’s against party rule. I can’t say because as a women leader and I want to support my fellow woman, I now go to APC or APGA or any other party to cast my vote, it’s not possible. As people used to say, politics is a game of numbers, so we need the numbers.

So, except we have the political party that will bring all women and led by a woman, we cannot talk of having a governorship candidate or producing a female governor or president.

But as it is, we are only clamouring for the 35 percent but we have not gotten that in most of the states and at the federal level. I hope we will get to that stage by the special grace of God.

 

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