By Ihegazie Chidinma, Abuja
Former Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, has advised Nigerian women to get more politically active by joining political parties in their numbers as well as registering as voters to be able to vote into government men and women that would advance and protect their interest.
Ekweremadu, in his goodwill message to Nigerian women on the occasion of the 2022 edition of the International Women’s Day, IWD on Tuesday, affirmed that only a fundamental switch to proportional representation in the electoral system could guarantee women their deserved place in the governance of the nation.
He expressed sadness over the continued collapse of legislative efforts to advance women’s political participation in the country.
According to him, the situation was one of his nightmares at the helms of electoral reform and constitution amendment for many years, as there was a clear lack of understanding and political will among the political leadership and those who should know better.
He said: “I congratulate women all over the world and join other well-meaning Nigerians in celebrating Nigerian women especially.
“In celebrating them, I also think the occasion calls for sober reflections by all, especially the political elites, over the continued collapse of every legislative efforts to shore up women representation in governance structures across the country.
“I believe the International Women’s Day 2022 calls for recommitment and political will by all to rise to the demands beyond lip service.
“Should we not feel embarrassed that Rwanda occupies the first spot on the February 2022 Inter-Parliamentary Union monthly ranking of women in 192 national parliaments, whereas Nigeria places a distant 184th, only better than a few countries like Kuwait, Papua New Guinea, Yemen, Eritrea, and Haiti.
“South Africa places 8th, Senegal places 19th, Mozambique places 21st, Ethiopia places 24th, while even South Sudan and Chad occupy the 54th and 56th positions, respectively, well ahead of the Giant of Africa on the same table
“Instructively, one thing that is common among most of these nations and others with high women representation in parliament is proportional representation.”
Ekweremadu added that by law, 50 per cent of the seats of the national parliament of the United Arab Emirates were reserved for women.
He went further: “I think at this point, and as I have always advocated, we need a fundamental paradigm shift in our electoral system from the first-past-the post, which we currently operate, to proportional representation.
“In a proportional representation system, the parties will submit a list of potential lawmakers to the election management body.
There is also usually a reserve list. Thereafter, the electorate will cast votes for the competing political parties. Each political party eventually gets the number of seats proportional to the percentage of votes it got at the polls.
“If a party secures 45 per cent of the votes cast in a particular legislative election like the House of Representatives, it gets 45 per cent of the 360 seats, which it will now allocate to its members from the list it earlier submitted to the election management body, agreed proportions to different demography like women, the youth, people living with disabilities, among others.”
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