May 15, 2021

Group seeks partnership for electoral reforms, gender rights in Nigeria

Funded by the US government, the group is implementing projects to grow Nigeria's democracy

A coalition of Civil Societies under a US-funded project – Building Civic Participation and Good Governance in Plateau State (BCP-GGP), Thursday advocated public collaborations to solve governance and gender-related problems in Nigeria.

As an offshoot of a U.S. training in October 2019, the group comprising Nigerian activists – Pastor Esther Ibanga, ACP Saleh Ibrahim and Wilson Iyamu organized a workshop on “Collaborative Problem Solving of Gender Based Violence and Electoral Reforms” in Jos, the capital of Plateau State, encouraging active participation of communities in governance, starting from the electoral process.

Workshop was one of series

“There can never be good governance without credible elections; and there cannot be credible elections when the process is not free and fair, devoid of violence and all forms of malpractices,” said Mr. Wilson Iyamu.

Bad governance, Mr. Iyamu said starts from failure of communities to demand accountability from public office holders.

Wilson Iyamu

“We worship politicians – often going to beg instead of challenge them. Even during elections, we allow our quest for material things becloud our reasoning and we end up voting the wrong people to power,” he said.

Citizens must however grow beyond sentiments and financial inducements during elections to maintain independence in voting and demanding accountability, a lawyer and Secret Service Official, Edwin Inegbenoise stated at the workshop.

“When Nigerians learn to stop accepting peanuts and voicing out with the consensus that brought in the current political dispensation, politicians will learn to act right,” Inegbenoise said.

Edwin Inegbenoise

On Gender Based Violence, BCP-GGP advocated broad sensitization for joint female rights defense.

“Societal problems require societal solutions, that is why collaboration against gender based violence is key,” said Past. Esther Ibanga.

Gender based violence – discrimination, inequalities, forceful sexual penetration, physical violence, general mutilation and among others, psychological attack often starts from the home front, Human Rights lawyer, Mrs. Obioma Ngozi said.

Obioma Ngozi

“When parents restrict certain roles to boys, and/or allow their male children to batter their female siblings, they are promoting gender based violence,” said Ngozi, the Vice Chairperson, Federation of female lawyers, Plateau State branch said.

Such violence reenforced by weak enforcement of laws, social compassion, ignorance and illiteracy among others is limiting the potentials of women and depriving society of their contributions for development.

“The low numbers of women in influential positions is as a result of the violence that has kept them from exploring their full potentials,” said Ngozi.

Workshop participants cut across political, ethnic, religious interests

To curb the menace, the attorney suggested communities, traditional and religious leaders included to be enlightened to promote justice and equal opportunities for all.

Encouraging female participation in politics, female education and discouraging early, forced marriage among others, Ngozi said are equally important.

Participants at the workshop including government officials, civil society organizations, community leaders, women and youth groups among others resolved to step down the campaign for speedy results.