As Nigeria looks ahead to the 2015 elections, leading political parties have been urged to encourage more women to run for elective positions by removing barriers impeding their effective participation in politics.
Making this call monday, the daughter of the acclaimed winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, the late Chief Moshood Abiola, Hafsat Abiola-Costello, bemoaned that Nigerian women have been worst hit by political discrimination and bad planning since independence.
Abiola-Costello, in a statement to mark the 17th anniversary of the assassination of her mother, Alhaja Kudirat Abiola, said: "More than the other sex, women in Nigeria have borne the brunt of the hollow political pact that the post-colonial state has been able to fashion out with the Nigerian people.
“ In terms of social services, access for women and girls are worse than that of men and boys. In some parts of the country, as many as 1,500 women die for every 100,000 babies that are born, more than five times the global average. And while only 10 per cent of the six million graduates coming out of the universities each year will secure jobs, only 30 per cent of this already low figure will be women. Consequently, of the 54 per cent of Nigerians living in poverty, 60 per cent are women and children".
While insisting that there can be no democracy if women are left behind in 2015, she drew inference from a recent Ernst & Young finding that identified a positive correlation between women's participation in government and good governance.
"This finding is also supported by the Mo (Ibrahim) Index on Governance. So it seems fitting on the anniversary of the assassination of Kudirat Abiola, wife of Chief MKO Abiola, pro-democracy activist and winner of the June 12, 1993 election, that all lovers of democracy rise up to demand that women be given their rightful place in Nigeria's democracy," she added.