2011 Elections in Nigeria: Women Have Important Role to Play
I agree with Carri Pence that change can happen only when we say No! to discrimination, to dehumanization, to oppression and suppression. Above all, change happens when women and men form alliances. To me our starting point to our collective No answer should be towards voting to power leaders who are insensitive to the plights of suffering, dehumanization, discrimination, marginalization and oppression of citizens especially women. If women should collectively come out ‘en masse’, join the crusade, we will be fully engaged and participate in the processes that bring in leaders. In the 2011 elections, we will say No! to exchanging our conscience for petty gifts from politicians. These politicians, who offer women peanuts as bribes (simply because we are poor) to get into power, use our young adults (children) to perpetuate election fraud and violence, while their own children are located abroad enjoying the resources accrued from their wholesome looting of the nation’s wealth when more than 60 percent Nigerian women and their families wallow in abject poverty and hopelessness. The time is NOW to come out, vote and protect our mandate so as to say NO! to perpetrators and promoters of violence, discrimination and marginalization of women both politically, economically and socially. Let us all rise up and invoke the spirits of Queen Amina of Zaria and her likes for a fight for freedom, which will eventually free us from the shackles of discrimination, violence, marginalization and segregation. We must rise up to the challenge and by the time we have sensitive leaders, we will be able to successfully address the issues that bother around economic political and social disadvantages which confront Nigerian women.
Come October 1st, Nigeria will be 50 years. At 50 years, the country is yet to have a legal frame work which contains or deals specifically with gender-based discriminations. Section 42 of the 1999 Constitution guarantees Nigerians (including women) a right to freedom from discrimination on the basis of sex amongst others. Section 34 of the same Constitution further guarantees every citizen, again including women, the right to dignity of human person. Sub-section (a) forbids any person from being subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment and sub-section (b) forbids any person from being held in slavery or servitude. It is saddening that upon these provisions in the constitution women from across the nation are still confronted with gender based discriminations, stereotypical behaviors, which subject women to second class citizens. Nigerian women will be liberated if we see ourselves as stakeholders in electoral processes, we need to hold our government responsible to accomplish the 35 percent Affirmative Action and that will form the basis for our further action.