Elections: INEC seeks support of women groups, gender-focused CSOs


By Aluta News

Feb. 11, 2023

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Saturday called on women groups and gender-focused Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Lagos  to do everything to mobilise women for the forthcoming elections.

INEC’s Resident Electoral Commissioner, Mr Olusegun Agbaje, made the plea at the Town Hall Meeting With Women Groups and Gender-Focused CSOs on Women Participation in the 2023 General Election, in Ikeja, Lagos.

Agbaje, who was represented by Mr Gabriel Akanbi, INEC’s Head of Department, Election and Party Monitoring, said that women participation in elections remained significant for inclusivity.

He said: “Ensuring a peaceful, free, fair, credible and acceptable general election in the state is a collective responsibility of all and sundry, particularly women groups and gender focused CSOs.

“Women have important roles to play for the achievement of the commission’s objectives for a violence-free and all-inclusive election on Feb. 25 when the Presidential and National Assembly Election will take place as well as on March 11 when the Governorship and State Assembly Election will be conducted.

“It is strongly believed that you all will do everything necessary to get the commission’s message across to your respective communities.”

According to him, the enlightenment programme is targeted at critical stakeholders, pressure groups, influencers and opinion moulders.

He said that the meeting became necessary with a view to building confidence and impacting womenfolk for a robust participation in the forthcoming general election.

Agbaje said that the meeting was aimed at sensitising and working together with women in politics, market women and other categories of women in view of their crucial roles and responsibilities in stabilising the society.

“Women are the fulcrum upon which social, economic and more importantly political activities of a nation rotate.

“At this critical point where all hands must be on deck, our women need to do more in political participation to ensure the accomplishment of our common goal of free, fair, inclusive, credible, inclusive and acceptable election.

“Women constitute about 49.8 per cent of Nigeria’s estimated population of about 218 million.

“There is no gainsaying that women population is quite significant in voters turn-out in successive elections and sundry electoral activities particularly since the beginning of the Fourth Republic,” he added.

Agbaje said that it was in recognition of this  that INEC had indicated measures to ensure that women’s right of free and fair participation in the electoral process was protected, secured and preserved.

He urged all stakeholders, particularly Women Groups and Gender focused CSOs to embark on efforts and conducts that would promote and protect women’s interest, security, and violence- free atmosphere for massive participation in election.

The INEC boss said that such had become imperative in order to entrench the culture of inclusive and participatory democracy that meets the minimum requirement for fairness and credibility.

In her remarks, Mrs Adenike Tadese, INEC’s Head of Department, Voter Education and Publicity, said

that commission’s Gender and Inclusivity Department  would continue to sensitise women, promote gender mainstreaming and enhance the engagement and active participation of women.

Tadese noted that a total of 6,707, 451 Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) were collected before the deadline out of 7, 637,402 PVCs received in the state between 2011 and 2023.

“The commission will continue to engage critical stakeholders for collaboration, provision of security and peaceful environment for the elections to take place and more importantly to ensure massive turnout for the elections.

“INEC has put in place certain mechanisms and policies to ensure an all-inclusive participation to deliver a free, fair, transparent and credible 2023 General Election to Nigerians,” she said.

Tadese said that INEC would not leave any stone unturned for the creation of very conducive electoral environment for an all-inclusive participation of all stakeholders.

Speaking, Mr Waheed Ishola, the Lagos State Director of the National Orientation Agency (NOA) said that all hands must be on deck in order to have a free and fair elections.

Ishola, who was represented by Mrs Adetola Adegboyega, NOA’s Deputy Director, said that NOA had carried out series of enlightenment campaign across the local governments.

He said its orientation and mobilisation Agency focused more on women, “knowing full well of their low participation in politics.”

Speaking, Mrs Agnes Fasesin, the Secretary, National Council of Women’s Societies, Nigeria (NCWS) said that women when properly educated, were strategic in mobilising and creating awareness in various communities, in all issues of national importance like free and fair election.

Fasesin noted that it was important to involve women in train the trainers on voters’ education at the appropriate time.

She said that women should mobilise themselves and be fully invoived in the electoral process so as to have a voice and contribute in governance.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the event had in attendance several women groups and gender-focused CSOs.

Among them are, YIAGA Africa, Women Law Development Centre, Nigeria, Coalition of Professional Women in Politics and Association of Professional Women Engineers of Nigeria (APWEN).