By Maureen Okon, Abuja.
The Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) has urged all political parties to meet the 35-per-cent proviso on the inclusion of women, girls and People Living With Diasbility (PWDs) in the political process.
The National Chairman of IPAC, Mr Yabagi Sani said this at its National-Level meeting, in collaboration with the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), as well as Stakeholders Democracy Network (SDN) on Wednesday in Abuja.
The programme was to discuss the plans of Women, Youths Agenda (WAYA) and PWDs for 2023 elections in Rivers and Nigeria as a whole.
Sani said that IPAC wanted to awaken the consciousness of Nigerians and the political parties to do more in the area of participation of women, girls and PWDs in the political process.
“Also, we want Nigerians and the political parties to have free and fair elections this year and beyond.
“IPAC is always ready to cooperate with the political parties in actualising the objectives of mass participation in the electoral process.
“Violence has been a recurring decimal in the country’s elections, which had prevented mostly women, girls and PWDs from participating for the fear of being affected.
“Democracy, as we all know, is a peaceful process and we must maintain the peace during the 2023 elections,” he said.
Sani urged Nigerians to be peaceful during the forthcoming elections, saying: “This is because Nigeria is a leader in Africa and that her action is being watched in the global arena.”
Also speaking, Mr Celestine Okwudili, Programme Manager, Governance, ActionAid, said that IPAC’s role in the political process was vital, adding that it was at the centre of the political process.
He said: “It is unfortunate that the political parties are not conforming to the rules of democracy.”
Okwudili further said that part of the focus of the work of ActionAid was to educate the people on their rights.
“Women, girls and PWDs should be part of the political parties and also be captured in some of the political parties’ structures.
“ActionAid is not supporting any political party because we are neutral, but we are interested in the inclusion of all,” he said.
Dr Joseph Ekong, the Project Officer, Governance, Security and Stabilisation, SDN, said that women and youth, including persons with disabilities were under-represented in politics, governance processes and their priorities were systematically neglected.
“We should work towards adopting and implementing affirmative action policies to ensure at least 35-per-cent representation of women in appointed and elective positions and others,” Ekong said.