2023 Polls: Aisha Buhari Warns APC Against Declassing Women With Free Forms

  • Dolapo Osinbajo urges women to fight for space at the table
  •  Over 700 women seek ruling party’s tickets

BY EDMOND ODOK – As political activities heighten ahead of the 2023 general elections, Nigeria’s First Lady, Dr Aisha Buhari, has warned the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) against using the excuse of giving women free forms to degrade them in the electoral process.

Her warning is coming against the backdrop of complaints by female aspirants that they are being pressured to step down to support their male counterparts.

Speaking at the female APC aspirants summit, organized by the Office of the APC National Women Leader with support from the International Republican Institute (IRI) at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja, Aisha Buhari said though not a believer in the free gift, she is confident the party will not make the mistake of making women second class citizens.

The First Lady said “I stand before you today as a mother, as a leader, as a sister, believing that today’s summit will make a difference in our lives as women and mothers of the nation.

“To the chairman of our party, governors, and party executives, I commend your efforts in supporting women over the years. However, I would like to draw your attention that it is now time to believe in women more and show more solidarity with them.

“Distinguished guests, it is important to mention the efforts made by our great party towards promoting women’s participation in politics. I appreciate and commend the recent party’s gesture in offering free nomination forms to female aspirants.”

“Honorable Emma Eneukwu representing the chairman of our great party, I don’t want the party to use the free forms as a means of sidelining women at the end of the day”, she said, adding; “I don’t believe in free gifts. But with Dr. Beta (Edu) there as our leader, I believe the APC will not relegate women to the backseat.”

Mrs Buhari noted that giving out free forms has created more opportunities for women to contest for elective positions, but cautioned that such a greek gift does not assure aspirants of success in the forthcoming elections.

She said a huge task lies ahead of us and “We must solidify our unity of purpose and work hard towards creating an impactful space within the political arena. Your decision to contest gives a lot of inspiration to women and I would like to reaffirm my support to all the women contestants.”

The First Lady, who noted that countries with outstanding records of successfully tackling the COVID-19 pandemic are led by women, said the world belongs to women and urged them to shun violence, jealousy and hatred for one another while also believing and projecting the party ideals.

Also warning that unless the communities are developed, those at the centre are wasting their time, Mrs Buhari challenged the womenfolk to seek the development of their various communities as part of their contributions to nation-building.

In her intervention, the Wife of Vice President, Dolapo Osinbajo, expressed confidence that the women are coming and won’t be stopped from getting a space at the table, saying; “There’s a question I’ve been asking and I’m still waiting for someone to give me a satisfactory answer. When you go to the hospital to have a child, whether the child is a boy or girl, we pay the same hospital fees.

“Is there anybody here that has paid higher school fees for boys and for girls? Is there anybody that paid a bus fare? airplane tickets, train fair? Did you pay more or less because you’re a woman or a man? Do we pay the same thing? Get ready, get ready, because it’s time for us to take our seats at the table.

“And as the representative of the national chairman said, we must follow through. You must go all the way to victory because when you sit at the table, you’re there to fight to ensure that it is well with the girls or the women.”

Mrs Osinbajo further said; “You’re there to fight for your mothers, your grandmothers, your daughters, your sisters, your aunties, your nieces, you’re also there to fight for your fathers and your sons and your brothers.

“You’re there to fight to make sure that the women are given their place at the table. You’re there to fight to ensure that we no longer see gender-based violence; you’re there to fight to make sure the girls get into school; you’re there to fight to make sure when it’s time for jobs because you are there we will be given jobs; you’re there to fight to make sure when decisions are being made concerning women. Women have the inputs.“

She, therefore, charged the women to support one another, adding that like the image of the party, the broom represents, they can only succeed if they are bound together in unity to fight from a position of strength.

The summit was packaged for women to come together, be educated, enlightened, and adequately equipped to go for victory in the 2023 forthcoming party primary elections.

To encourage more women in seeking elective offices, the ruling party last month bowed to mounting pressure by declaring free nomination forms for female aspirants who are interested in contesting the 2023 elections.

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