By Ado Hassan, Sokoto
Ahead of the 2019 general polls, the International Republican Institute funded by USAID has called on the marginalised groups of women, youths and the physically challenged to effectively organise, mobilise and sensitize themselves for elective rather than appointive positions on respective political platforms.
It decried that the groups were under represented in political parties in abysmal proportion while urging for increased spaces for them to actualise their ambitions.
The Institute, however noted that, democracy could only thrive effectively with responsive demands by the marginalised.
Accordingly, it said observations and reports had indicated that the affected groups were constantly interested in appointive not elective positions.
” Democracy is a game of number and is evident that women and youth as well the physically challenged constitute about 80% of eligible members and voters across all party platforms”, it pointed out.
The call was made Monday by an Official and anchor person of the Institute, Mr Sunday Alao at a One -day sensitization seminar on participation of the marginalised in political party processes.
” We have to deliberately influence a process that will enable the marginalised emerge in elective positions across all political platforms.
” Your participation will brighten the chances of emergence for any elective post”, he maintained.
The seminar with agenda” Sokoto Party Engagement with Marginalised Groups” is coming few days to the nation-wide ward congresses of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
According to him” the marginalised cannot realise their dreams and aspirations unless they key into party activities and processes with resilience, will continue to be a mirage”, he said.
The IRI official while making presentation on how to improve participation of the marginalised groups, expressed concern that the affected groups were not adequately represented in parties political process.
” I could recall that in 1999 and subsequent dispensation, despite the numerical strength of women and youths including the physically challenged who had returned the highest number of votes, their number were insignificant in terms of elective and appointive positions.”
He said it was time for them to face reality and use their platforms effectively and efficiently to realise their ambitions” the era for usng sympathy to get elective positions are over and no longer works”, he advised.
Alao also added” political leadership is about intrigues, power and manoeuvres. The marginalised have to understand the track, competitiveness and ability to penetrate. The earlier, the better you join the party of your choice with persistent interest and emotional commitment for elective aspirations. Status is no longer a valid factor to attract sympathy for winning elections. You must strive and rise as no party constitution deprives you from aspiring”, he advised.
The USAID funded Institute however, promised to ensure continued advocacy as well deepen the process of participation through the involvement of CSOs for political parties policies to capture all marginalised priorities for their aspirations.
In her goodwill message, INEC Desk Officer on Gendre, Aisha Abdullahi acknowledged the efforts and initiatives of IRI in reawakening the marginalised to their responsibilities said the commission was doing everything possible through its gendre policies to bring the marginalised on board as active participants in political processes.
” We have policies on the youths , physically challenged as well encourage women against all barriers with active participation of CSOs and International organisations inorder to maximise IRI initiatives and guarantee even flow and participation of the marginalised groups including IDPs”, She pointed out.
Earlier, the Resident Programme Director of the Institute, Sentell Barnes who disclosed that soon, the Institute would have a functional office with basic adjourning facilities in Sokoto said it would fast track and enhance full scale engagement of relevant politically oriented platforms for adequate participation and representation of the marginalised.
” We will encourage all inclusive participation of coalition of women, youths and physically challenged as well individuals.
” We are here to create window of opportunities that will strengthen democracy and even participation in the process. Parties cannot stand without the involvement of basic stakeholders to engendre a bond for responsive democratic foundation for particpation.
” Our doors are open for abeneficial relatons that will enhance the drive through meetings with political parties and institutions as well effective advocacy”, he assured.
Also, the State Commissioner for Women Affairs, Kulu Abdullahi represented by Director Planning, Alhaji Ibrahim Ahmed said the ministry was had been comprehensively active in women and children socio- economic and political developmental activities.
According to Abdullahi” we are into responsive advocacy, sensitization and elightenment activities especially on gendre.
” We have a policy that coordinates all women activities on politics, empowerment among other developmental aspects. We have established women development centres across the 23 LGs”, She explained.
According to Abdullahi ” women population is something to reckon with which should not be jettisoned Abd we are encouraging them to take advantage of that to participate and aspire to elective positins at all levels”, he stated.
However, the APC woman leader, Hajiya Fatima ‘Yar Kangiwa said the party had arranged for free forms for all female candidates in the state wishing to contest elective positions.
However, her PDP counterpart, Rabi Giyawa who commended IRI for the timely and encouraging initiative said they were intensifying efforts and sensitization to their female members especially those in ignorance of the entire processes to see the urgent need to participate.
The seminar drew participation of various socio-political groups, CSOs, NGOs among others.