2023: Gender Bias Thickens In Nigeria’s Political Space As 96% Of Female Contestants Lose Election

The 2023 general elections witnessed 10.1% of female contestants but 96% lost out on their political bids.

2023: Gender Bias Thickens In Nigeria's Political Space As 96% Of Female Contestants Lose Election
2023: Gender Bias Thickens In Nigeria’s Political Space As 96% Of Female Contestants Lose Election

A total of 1,553 women were on the ballot for the presidential, governorship, national and state assemblies’ elections held on February 25 and March 18, this year.

Out of a total of 15,307 candidates who contested under the 18 registered political parties during the 2023 general elections, males constituted 13,754, which represented 89.8 per cent while the 1,553 female candidates represented 10.1 per cent.

The analysis of the results declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) showed that only 72 women got elected at federal and state levels, while 1,487 lost.

These figures included Kebbi and Adamawa states, where supplementary elections were held on April 15.

While Kebbi had no female contestant in the just concluded supplementary election, Aishatu Binani, of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Adamawa lost to the PDP candidate, Ahmadu Fintiri, who has Professor Kaletapwa Farauta, a female as running mate.

A breakdown of the 72 women that won elections showed that seven of them were elected as deputy governors; Dr Hadiza Balarabe(Kaduna), Josephine Piyo (Plateau), Dr Akon Eyakenyi(Akwa Ibom),Dr Ngozi Nma Odu(Rivers), Engr Noimot Salako Oyedele(Ogun), Patricia Obila(Ebonyi) and Professor Kaletapwa Farauta (Adamawa).

Seventeen of the women made it to the National Assembly – three in the Senate and 14 in the House of Representatives.

In states, a total of 48 women made it to the various state houses of assembly.

Money, culture, religion worked against us – Candidates

A cross section of female candidates interviewed by our correspondent explained their inability to coast to victory at the polls.

Binta Umar, the lone female governorship candidate of the Action Alliance (AA) in Jigawa State, blamed the abysmal performance of female candidates to lack of cooperation by fellow women.

Binta was defeated in the March 18 governorship election by Malam Umar Namadi of the APC. Though she was said to have joined the PDP weeks before the election, her name was on the ballot.

She told DailyTrust that the failure of female candidates in the election is attributed to lack of cooperation of women, adding that “the population of women is enough to give you the winning votes”.

She noted that money is an integral part of politics “if you have money, you win elections, if you don’t have money you will lose no matter how you try”.

While highlighting culture and religion as factors that played in her losing the election, she advised women not to give up contesting for elections even if they fail. On her part, Beatrice Itubor, the Labour Party governorship candidate in Rivers State, said she is in court to reclaim what she tagged, “stolen mandate.”

She added that the use of money and violence during the elections should be totally condemned.

“Violence and money politics are the two banes. They brandished ill-gotten money to edge us out. They know people are vulnerable because those in government have ‘weaponised’ poverty and they are using that weapon against everybody,” she said.

Also, Khadijah Iya Abdullahi, who contested for the governorship in Niger State under the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), attributed her failure to electoral irregularities. She lost her bid to occupy the apex seat in Niger State to Muhammed Umar Bago of the APC.

“Massive vote buying, collusion with INEC and security officials, even our party officials at the polling units and collation centres were in bed with the highest bidder; these were all that affected our success.

“Other factors that also affected us from our internal processes are paucity of funds and resources to implement key strategies that we wanted to do,” she added. Moving forward, she advocated strict adherence to electoral guidelines and rules, which she feels will act as a shield for women against intimidation.

“Most women cannot compete with these fraudulent ways of electioneering and most stay away afterwards thus the decline.

“So what should be done basically is if we remove all the above mentioned issues and there should be support for women financially, mentorship and capacity building it will go a long way in ensuring that women win elections”, she said.

Hajiya Fatima Abubakar, the candidate of the African Democratic Congress (ADC) in Borno State, who lost to the incumbent governor, Professor Umara Zulum of the APC, said paucity of funds hindered her success.

“You cannot run your campaigns and other expenses without money,” she lamented.

She said women are ready to support and vote for each other, stressing that if all variables are in place women will perform well during elections.

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