International Day of Democracy:NHRC Seeks More Participation of Women in Politics

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The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has called for more
inclusive political participation in Nigeria saying that denying women
and the disadvantaged group the opportunity to fully participate in
politics will continue to impact negatively in the nation’s democracy.
Executive Secretary of the Commission, Tony Ojukwu Esq who made this
call in Abuja Monday at the 2019 UN International Day of Democracy
Conference organized by Initiative for Citizens’ Rights,

Accountability & Development (ICRAD) in collaboration with NHRC
observed that sustainable electoral reform and voter education
targeted at supporting women and the disadvantaged group into elective
positions of governance, will go a long way to add value to

Ojukwu said women and the disadvantaged group are very critical in the
nation’s democratic journey but regretted that factors like electoral
violence, vote buying, inducement and other electoral malpractices
have combined to pose serious challenges to the political aspirations
of this vulnerable group.

According to the Executive Secretary, Citizens’ participation in
democracy is a fundamental human right and a critical aspect of
democratic and electoral process which is well entrenched under
International and Regional Human Rights Law.

“Article 21 (1-3) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,
Article 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
and Article 13 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights all
recognize the right of everyone to participate in the government of
his or her country either directly or through a freely chosen
representative”, Ojukwu stated.

He also identified intra-party strife, lack of political ideology,
poverty, insecurity, illiteracy/lack of civil education, weak
institutions, opposition intolerance and electoral malpractices such
as ballot box snatching, disruption of elections in key opposition
strongholds, resort to violence, killings of opposition members,
kidnapping of electoral officers and manipulation of electoral results
etc as the challenges facing the nation’s democracy.

In his welcome address, the Executive Director ICRAD, Hassan Luqman
Esq said that the theme of this year’s commemoration, “The
relationship between Participatory Democracy and Credible Elections
towards ensuring Sustainable National Development” is apt given the
increasing need to improve on the nation’s democratic process.
According to the Executive Director, it is a challenge that many
Nigerians are periodic participants in the democratic processes of the
nation and these categories of persons wait for the electioneering
period, take part in the campaign and cast their votes.

He noted that there is need for the electorates to follow up the
mandates given to their elected representatives and care about what
the ruling party does with its manifesto so as to achieve good

In his remarks, Sultan Maccido Institute for Peace, Leadership and
Development Studies, University of Abuja, Associate Prof. Mutiullah
Olasupo said that election stakeholders like the conventional and
social media, government; election management body, political parties,
candidates and the electorates have critical roles to play to ensure a
smooth and credible election.

In his topics, “The Critical Role of Stakeholders in Building
Confidence in Nigerian Electoral Process, the Academic expert opined
that if the electoral body and the civil society are empowered to the
extent that they are encouraged carry out their respective duties
within the confines of the law, the system will become more sanitized
with improvement in electoral outcomes.

In his statement, the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Governing
Council, Federal University of Petroleum Resources, Effurun, Delta
state, Prof. Shehu Abdullahi Zuru said that it is unfortunate that
Nigeria has been variously described by some international citizens as
well as representatives of leading democracies in the world in
despicable manner, for instance, he quoted the former President of
South Africa, Nelson Mandela as describing Nigeria as, “the sick man
of Africa”.

He advised that democracy is not about form but rather about trust,
about integrity, about responsibility and character while insisting
that “the country must conquer poverty before it could build
architecture of participatory democracy anchored on service and
integrity that will have cascading impact on every facet of our
national life”.


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