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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.

Celine Osukwu


Fatima Waziri's picture

Well stated Celine, We have

Well stated Celine,

We have to form an alliance, come together and vote come 2011. It should not be business as usual. We all have voices so lets use our voices to be heard.


tocssfoundation's picture


Good talk Celine.
What bothers me and probably other Nigerian women is the financial implication of the 35% affirmative action.
Even after the recent electoral reform, you will wonder what percentage of Nigerian women can afford ...
However, to second Fatima,maybe our vote alone will do for now.
Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria.


busayo's picture

The problem is

I agree with you totally my sisters, it is not that we don't have women that could match our male counterpart at all levels in this coming election but the problem is the MONEY and THUGS politics we practice in Nigeria. It is not in the nature of women to use other people's children as thugs when you would not want your own to be a thug. Until this situation changes, women may continue to be minority in the elective posts. We must make sure this situation changes by our subtle campaign among ourselves both the educated and the ignorant women that we should use everything at our disposal to discourage our children from being used as thugs. I will also encourage us to come out powerfully and vote in credible candidates for our dear NATION NIGERIA to move forward.

Busayo Obisakin
Women inspiration Development center
Ile-Ife, Nigeria

ifeoma's picture

Nigerian Elections

The thing one has to do is to educate women at the grass root level on the value of their votes.Most of them do not know that their vote can determine who gets in and policies that will be made ,that will affect their lives one way or the other.On the other hand there is so much apathy,and lack of confidence in the electoral system,which most people see as biased,and therefore it is of no use going out to vote ,because your vote does not really count.


vivian's picture

voter's education

We really have to educate women within their local communities on the need for them to register and make sure they vote during the election. We can also have a women walk to voice our mind as regard the2011 election and women's participation.


''Every woman have a story at every stage of Life''

Celine's picture

Alliances are on, let's use them

Yes, alliances are on and organisations are warming up to take off on issues of Sensitization, Civic / Voter Education, Mandate Protection, etc. Organizations like the UNDP, The National Democratic Insitute (NDI), International Republican Institute, Open Society Initiative for West Africa, National Democratic Institute, European Union, etc are working with non partisan CSOs to strategize on the areas of interest. They have partner CSOs and networks all round the country based on the eight geoppolitical zones, more especially now that the election calendar was published (see punch of Wednesday Sept 8. Let us find out partner organisations in our various states and team up.

Pamela, indeed Nigerians have lost confidence in the ballot but the fact that Atthiru Jega, an activist is now made the new INEC chairman, people want to believe that he has his integrity to protect considering his background. Again, the acting President has emphasised that he wants a free and fair elections come 2011. Let us also be aware that the 2011 elections is perceived as issue based as a lot of organizations will practicalise the use of ICT in observation and monitoring electoral processes especially voting. It has worked in Uganda, USA, and so many countries and therefore will be used in Nigeria now. Accessible Election Information Incident Centers will be established. We will collectively try our best in our various localities to effect a change.

olowotee's picture

Nice One

Nice thoughts....well done.

bintu's picture

celine Nigeria at 50, this is


Nigeria at 50, this is a good start. I agree with Celine and comments so far, but the problem remain unresolved, or seem not started. We are all Nigerians. We are in so many ways responsible for most actions and in actions of implementation of what ever International treaty Nigeria subcribed. The Nigerian Women are so timid to kick off the struggle. we still paying lip services to those wishing to make history. Nigerian woman is so afraid of taken a bold step. bold step has far reaching consequence, which we all know. Single parent is the far of most women in Nigeria. This is because bold step into this struggle may steam up chain of re=action at the detriment of the women and their children. African law and process of obtaining it favours the man. The man feel he could aboundant his responsibilities at any stage of his involvement with woman number one and pick up his pieces move on with number two woman with any means and posibility of saction. The African man having used the yesterday girl, now woman or old woman, make all the wealth with her support and commitment as required of her by both religious books, find herself on the street without any mean of compensation. Who told a man that tha wealth is his and only his? who told him he has final say to the existance and none existance of the union? Why is the African government not ready to put first thing first to addressing the issue of gender equality? The African continent has assumed democratic ideology of ruling its subject or citizens. Various forms of election or election has in the past and present are being perpatrated by men as the best form of governance, yet the ideal machanism for effective democratic ideology is skip or sheld. To support this struggle these properties most be unveil. Put social security in place to stop Niger Delta menace. Put social security in place and stop street bagging in the Nothern part of the Country. Put social security to in place to releive the suffing of women over aboundant responsibilities for erring husband. Put Socal security in place and give the woman lader to rise to the top by channeling her resources to personal venture rather than back load of an irresponsible fathers duty. Women ceased to being load carrier if social security is put in place. The women are ready, but need ladder to rise. Give us a shoulder to line on. When we meet next we talk about legislature on womens right to share husbands property in the event of seperation.
Thank you.


Celine's picture

Dear Bintu, I can feel your

Dear Bintu,

I can feel your heart full of emotions. I think it is high time, Nigerian women seek empowerment through information, skills, etc, so a to be guided on basic rights. There are fundamental laws that bestow on women, rights to ownership of spousal wealth. Any marriage contracted under the court of Nigeria empowers the woman to be part of the resources of the family, but the great questions is: how many women have their marriages legalized in the court?

Democracy in Nigeria and other parts of Africa is still at young stage, the zeal to make it grow should be in our various endeavours. Women should stop sitting at the fence, we should work at par with men and I believe that gradually, we get to our promised land. The statusquo in Nigerian by 1992, had no indication that we should be where we are now, but it was by divine providence that today we are talking freely, airing our opinions in public places like this. I believe it is a gradual process and we will get there. We will make it if we are committed and go into more action.

Cheers Bintu


bintu's picture

Hello Celine Thank God you

Hello Celine

Thank God you are a Nigerian like me. By that i mean you are aware of the usual train in the Nothern part of the Country especially among the Hausa Fulani society, where marring more than one wife at the instance of the man and throwing them out at mens will is the order of day. Given this ungodly doctrine in the name of norms or religious believe, without following the actual preaching of the Quran is what my people the women have to leave with. The Hausa Fulani woman of the interior, when i say interior I mean villagers of the remote settlements, who have until today remain timid, Timidity is not about lack of education, in the literal sense of ability to read and write no. It is about broad mindness, enlightment, ability to say no and be heard and be respected for what you say. Ability to decide for yourself and your future, form the majority of such society, remain a pradox. The lacuna here is, the men of this society believe in what they want to believe, and direct these poor women to what ever and accept what ever as ideal, and not contestable any where as long as you remain member of such society. Identity crisis is one of the primary fear of women of this society, thus are compelled to obey even at the expense of they lifes. You may not understand my inner feeling. I have sat on the fence seeing how much injustice this women faced by day. I have seen how much their mothers weep daily, yet they cant open up, they cant help their seedlines. its sad its frustrating. This is a society you cant penetrate. Every step taken will be voilation of the their religious injuction. You know what, as a political scientist, religion is classified as politics at the very highest level. Human believes is said to be the first socialization thus to temper with this believe, may mean war, directly or indirectly. The road to redeming this women is very slim. They may not open up for fear of being disowned. They may not open up because they are made to believe, marriage is they way to heaven, the heaven of a woman is under the feet of her husband, thus she is made to believe him at what ever course. She is expected to obey until she died that is a virtues woman by excellence. Keep education out of this issue. Most of this women have obtain western education, but the religion over powers the doctrine of western education. Help me fwhich way out of this unholy situation. Its painful to see how believe is messing my people up.
Thank you for noticing my inner pains.


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