The First Lady, Mrs. Aisha Buhari, has urged the All Progressives Congress (APC), not to use the excuse of giving women free nomination forms to relegate them to the background.
She made the call on Saturday at the female APC aspirants summit, organised by the Office of the Women Leader of the ruling party with support from the International Republican Institute (IRI), at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The summit was to ensure that women come together, get educated, enlightened, and equipped to ensure their victory in the forthcoming 2023 elections.
The party had last month declared free nomination forms for female aspirants who intend to contest.
According to the First Lady, she doesn’t believe in gifts but expressed confidence that the party will not relegate women to the background.
She 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.
“Honourable 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.
“I don’t believe in gifts. But with Dr. Beta there as our leader, I believe the APC will not relegate women to the backseat,” Mrs Buhari said.
The First Lady further explained that giving out free nomination forms has created more opportunities for women to contest for elective positions, adding that the gesture, however, does not assure aspirants of success in the forthcoming elections.
“I believe that a huge task lies ahead of us. We must solidify our unity of purpose and work hard toward 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, “ she added.
Noting that countries that successfully tackled the COVID-19 pandemic are led by women, affirming that the world belongs to women, she also urged women to shun violence, jealousy, and hatred for one another and must also believe in and project the party ideals.
She advised the women to seek the development of their various communities, warning that unless the communities are developed, those at the center are wasting their time.
Also speaking, the Wife of the Vice President, Dolapo Osinbajo, on her part, expressed confidence that the women are coming and won’t be stopped from getting a space at the table.
She said: “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 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. You’re there to fight for your mothers, your grandmothers, your daughters, your sisters, your aunties, and 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 said.
Mrs. Osinbajo urged 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 and fight.
The Deputy National Chairman (South) of APC, Chief Emma Eneukwu, on his part, urged the women to work hard to achieve results as the party has done its part by giving them free forms to encourage them.
Eneukwu, who represented the party national chairman, Abdullahi Adamu, said the party decided to give women prominence this time around because of their numbers and what they can bring to the table.
He said, “to whom much is given more is expected. Leadership is important. The National Woman leader spoke so well, and you gave her a standing ovation.
“But it is beyond that. It is beyond speaking well. I’m a Christian and the Bible says that faith without work is dead. If you can match this your ovation with action…In politics, nobody rewards laziness. Nobody rewards inefficiency.
“You must stand up to be counted. If you are a woman, and you are expecting that elections will be awarded to you, it doesn’t happen in this country anyway. This is Democracy.
“What we are trying to do in APC is to encourage women to use their numbers, just like the national woman leader has encouraged if you use your numbers, I’m sure you don’t need to beg anybody. The men will come and negotiate with you at the table because you have the Joker.”
On her part, former Minister of Women Affairs, Paulen Tallen, urged women not to be deterred from vying for various electoral offices despite the overwhelming majority of men in the race.
According to her, the women’s leadership in the party is working to ensure no female aspirant is left behind.
She said “Don’t be intimidated by anyone or the men that are in the race. The season is right upon us and it is time for women to make a difference.
“We are ensuring that no one gets left behind. Our women must get into Senatorial, House of Representatives, and even the Presidential seats.”
In her opening remarks, National Woman Leader, Dr. Betta Edu, disclosed that over 700 women are aspiring for various positions across the country on the platform of the ruling party.
She lamented that some of the women aspirants were being threatened to step down, others were being told that they are not good enough to run, while others based on religion were also told they can’t contest and won’t be voted for.
Edu appealed to the First Lady, to continue to handhold the women through the last step before the party primaries, assuring that the women will not disappoint when elected.
She also urged women to support women vying for various and not fall into the temptation of working against each other.