INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner in Kwara, Malam Garba Attahiru-Madami, has called for the elimination of barriers that impede women participation in politics in the country.
The REC made the call on Wednesday in Ilorin in an address he presented at a seminar on the low level of women’s participation in election and how to ensure no vote buying during election.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the seminar was organised by the International Women Communication Centre Ilorin.
Attahiru-Madami, who was represented by the Administration Secretary, Waheed Onijo, said gender disparities still existed especially during participation in electoral politics.
“In spite of the international declarations affirming the right and equality between men and women of which Nigeria is signatory, the available literature shows that women still constitute a disproportionally small percentage of those participating in political decision making.
“In order to be able to proffer solution to low level of women’s participation in election, it is essential to examine those factors that hinder women’s participation in the electoral process,” the REC said.”
Attahiru-Madami listed those hindrances to include poverty, illiteracy and limited access to education.
According to the REC, the factors also include effect of violence against women, legal obstacle, lack of confidence in other women, jealousy, envy among women and historical, cultural and religious factors.
He said for women to participate effectively in electoral politics, there must be elimination of historical, cultural, religious barriers and violence in the electoral process.
The REC made a case for the sensitisation of women to have interest in politics and have confidence in womanhood.
He added that women must be empowered with education and the promotion of women in leadership and decision-making roles at all levels as well as funding.
“If all these barriers are eliminated, our women will be stimulated to participate effectively in the electoral process,” the REC added.
He described vote buying as an act of inducement by cash reward or promissory note by an agent of a political party, supporter, candidate or political party to influence a voter to vote for a particular candidate to win an election.
“In recent time, food, money, and valuable items are being shared freely by politicians and political parties in electoral process.
“In other words, the process of buying and selling of votes has permeated the Nigerian electoral process.
“The seller, being the voter, while the buyers are contestants or political parties,” Attahiru-Madami said.
He added that buying of votes usually came up during the period of registration, nomination, campaign, primary election, party congress, convention and election day.
The REC, however, said that INEC had taken a number of measures to forestall incidence of vote buying.
He said that the commission had adopted the use of collapsible cubicle for thumb printing of ballot paper and rearrangement of sitting arrangement by poll officials.
Attahiru-Madami added that INEC has banned voters from bringing Android phones to voting cubicle.
He stressed that offenders of vote buying and selling were liable to be prosecuted, adding that the commission usually carried out aggressive enlightenment campaign of the populace.
“In order to stem the tide of vote buying in Nigeria, there should be aggressive public enlightenment and voter education,” he said.
The REC called on stakeholders in the electoral process to cooperate with INEC to forestall the incidence of vote buying during in the electoral process.