The Conference of Nigerian Female Parliamentarians (CONFEPA) has requested that a woman be made vice president of the country.
The Group, who made the request yesterday during a visit to President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, said Nigerian women were being marginalised by their male counterparts in political participation.
CONFEPA President, Elizabeth Atevie, who presented the demand to Buhari on behalf of the delegation which comprised lawmakers from the 36 states, said: “Nigeria has gone through five elections since 1999. However, the political transformation is still male-dominated. The story of women in decision-making is yet to change for the better. Women are still very much marginalised in politics.
“At present, in the Senate, only one of the principal officers is a woman and only eight of the 109 senators are women. The House of Representatives has only one female principal officer and 22 women out of the 360 members. There is less than 5% of women representatives in the state houses of assembly.
“Your Excellency, you will agree with us that this trend has to be reversed. Nigeria needs to invest in women’s participation in politics by creating an enabling environment for women to thrive and tackle perceived systematic and cultural hindrances to women’s inclusion.
“Currently, many African and European nations are daily finding ways to include more women in governance. Some have elected or appointed women as heads of state, prime ministers, heads of foreign ministries and other key positions of decision-making. It will not be out of place. Your Excellency, for women to be given such opportunities in our dear nation.”
Atevie, who stated that anything the president said on their demand would become policy and subsequently law, specifically requested that “whenever the president is a man, the vice president should be a woman.”
She also said only Buhari could ensure that “for every three senatorial seats in the states, one should be a woman, where there are nine House of Representatives (members) the men should take six and leave three for women”.
She appealed to Buhari to ensure that the few women presently elected or appointed are retained, promoted to the next level and the number of female representation increased at the federal, state and local government levels.
Responding, Buhari said: “I am not as powerful as you think”, noting that such a request could only be granted by a military head of state. He told them he had dropped the uniform for “agbada”.
Buhari jokingly said Vice President Yemi Osinbajo’s position was threatened. “It is a pity the VP is not here, but I believe the Secretary to the Government of the Federation will brief him that his position is threatened. It is only the vice president who is threatened, and if we win the next election, he may lose his position.”
Buhari thanked the nation’s women for supporting him each time he contested presidential elections.