Dr Theresa Omoke, the President, National Council for Women Societies (NCWS), Ebonyi chapter, says participation of women in electoral and political processes are vital to ensure that elections in the country are inclusive and credible.
She spoke on Wednesday in Abakaliki, when officials of the council paid a courtesy call on Prof. Godswill Obioma, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Ebonyi.
Omoke decried the marginalisation and low representation of women in the political and electoral processes in the country.
She explained that elections could only be truly representative when women fully participate and are included in all aspects of the political and electoral processes.
“Elections are only truly representative and credible when women fully participate and are included in all aspects of the electoral process.
“As women’s voice, we appeal to political parties through INEC to press on political parties to create enabling environment for women participation in the electoral process and positions.
“We observed that in the recently concluded primaries of political parties in the country, that many women were discouraged from participating fully in the electoral process.
“The cost of party nomination forms was enormous and beyond the reach of women, ranging between N12 million and N15 million, according to political party.
“There were deliberate violence orchestrated to scar women and deny them opportunity to participate in the party electoral primaries.
“It was also observed and even more worrisome, that many political parties did not have plans to allow women participation in terms of normal concessions given to women”, Omoke said.
She said that women were responsible for the successes recorded in many previous elections in Nigeria, but regretted that they remained grossly marginalised by the male folks.
“Women through the efforts of the NCWS mobilised at the grassroots levels and persuaded them to come out and vote en-masse candidates of their choice, and yet men deliberately blocked women continually through many strategies”, she added.
The group pledged to partner the electoral body to ensure full participation of women in the forthcoming elections.
It further pledged to assist the commission to conduct credible, free, fair and transparent elections in Ebonyi.
“We are here to seek partnership with the REC and INEC team in Ebonyi in the areas of voter sensitisation, voter education, collection and preservation of voter cards as well as election monitoring and observation”.
The group appealed to the commission to include the council in the 2019 election monitoring and observation, urging the electoral body to ensure credible, violence free poll in the state.
Obioma, in his response, commended the women for the visit and assured them of the readiness of the commission to conduct transparent, credible free and fair elections in Ebonyi in 2019.
Obioma noted that women constituted critical mass of the voting population, noting that the council ‘s collaboration with the commission would enhance its electoral activities in the state in 2019.
Obioma appealed to the council to preach against vote-buying, vote-selling and other forms of election irregularities capable of undermining outcome of elections in Ebonyi.
He said the commission would engage the council in monitoring the Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) collection at local government levels.
He appealed to women not to allow their children to be used as political thugs by desperate politicians to disrupt the electoral process or cause election violence.
“We will do everything within our statutory powers to ensure that elections in Ebonyi are transparent, credible, free and fair, and we pledge to partner with you to achieve the objective.
“Preach against election violence, vote- buying, vote -selling and other forms of election irregularities during your advocacy campaigns.
“Again, support the emergence of your fellow women in the 2019 elections irrespective of party affiliation,” Obioma said. (NAN)