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FCT council poll: Women inclusion under threat, Yiaga Africa raises alarm

Yiaga Africa, a pro-democracy nongovernmental organisation says the political representation of women in the Saturday Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Area Council election is abysmally low.

Technocrat Media, Abuja

Yiaga Africa, a pro-democracy nongovernmental organisation says the political representation of women in the Saturday Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Area Council election is abysmally low.

This is contained in a pre-election statement made available to TECHNOCRAT MEDIA, signed by Executive Director Samson Itodo and Ezenwa Nwagwu, a board member.

The statement titled: “Women political inclusion under threat as FCT heads to the polls.”

Yiaga said: “Women representation is abysmally low, with female candidacy at 8.87%. 4 political parties; Action Alliance (AA), All Progressives Congress (APC), Labour Party (LP), and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have no female candidates vying for seats in the 2022 FCT Area Council Elections,”

“In summary, there are only 3 female chairmanship candidates and 8 vice-chairmanship candidates while there are 39 female councillorship candidates. This indicates the likelihood of poor women representation in the Area Council Government.”

“Among the political parties, the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) with (10) has the highest number of women candidates.”

On youth representation, Yiaga noted that the Social Democratic Party (SDP) has the highest number of youth candidates, fielding 39 youth for the elections.

Inclusion of women and persons with disabilities

Yiaga said “INEC has committed to providing braille ballot and magnifying glasses for the visually impaired and albinos respectively. In addition, INEC has committed to its Gender Policy and to ensure the inclusion of women in the administration of the election. For instance, Five of the six area councils have women as the electoral officers.” 

“Yiaga Africa expects that more women will be involved as presiding officers at the polling units.”

The organisation in its analysis said it adopted a long-term observation for the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise, desk reviews, and in-depth interviews with stakeholders including, civil society organizations, security agencies, the election management body, political parties, and citizens in observation on the pre-election environment.

While commending the Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC) effort to ensure women’s inclusion as election administrators with five of the six area councils having a woman as the electoral officers, Yiaga said INEC needs to ensure early deployment of its personnel and materials to polling units to enable early commencement of polls.

“In a bid to ensure transparency, INEC should publish the Permanent Voters Card (PVC) rate as it had initially promised to do before the elections.”

“INEC election officials must ensure uniformity and consistency in the application of guidelines across all polling stations. They should provide explicit information on accreditation and voting procedure as well as the result collation process and announcement.”

“INEC should ensure the INEC Result Portal is up and functioning to enable the upload of polling units level results on election day for citizens to track their votes, and must be transparent and accountable to boost citizens’ confidence in the LGA election process.”

Yiaga also noted that security agencies should collaborate with INEC to secure election materials, personnel, and citizens during the election.

Election security

“Security personnel deployed for the election should conduct themselves with the utmost sense of responsibility, professionalism, and impartiality. They should be on the alert to forestall any attempt to circumvent the election by mischief makers or violent elements who deploy violence and intimidation.” the statement added.

Yiaga commended INEC on new polling units but said it discovered an imbalance in the distribution of voters to polling units. “Yiaga Africa is however concerned that there are 546 polling units with over 1,000 registered voters. This contradicts the idea behind expanding access to polling units. On the other hand, there are 1328 pollings with between 1 and 50 registered voters while there are 593 polling units without a single registered voter allotted to them.”

It advised the Commission to find a lasting solution to avoid constant confusion.

The organisation called on voters in the FCT to come out in their numbers to vote and adhere to the electoral guidelines.

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