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Appointment of RECs: Electoral Hub decries poor representation of women, PWDs

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….Calls for inclusivity in subsequent appointments

By Chimezie Godfrey

The Electoral Hub has raised concern over the poor representation of women and Persons With Disability, PWDs, in the recent President Muhammadu Buhari’s appointment of 19 Resident Electoral Commissioners, RECs, for the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.

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The Director, IRIAD- The Electoral Hub, Princess Hamman-Obels said this a statement made available to Newsdiaryonline.

She commended President Buhari for his quick appointment of 19 new Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), adding that these appointments are right on time to fill the vacancies occasioned by the end of tenure for over 20 RECs whose tenures end on July 6, 2022, and August 15, 2022. 

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According to her, these timely appointments are good for the certainty and stability of the electoral process, adding that it is also critical for effective preparation for the 2023 general election.

She however expressed dismay over the poor representation of women and PWD in these appointments.

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She said,”However, we are dismayed at the poor representation of women and PWD in these appointments. The President failed to use this opportunity to right the poor gender representation in his administration with only three women appointees out of the nineteen new appointees. Out of these new appointees, it is unfortunate to note that only 15.8% are women, and t. is no PWDs representation. 15.8% is an extremely poor representation even though an increase from the previous set of RECs of 37 with only one woman.

“This trend is also replicated at the National level with only two women National Commissioners (15.4%) out of 13 members Commission and no PWD.

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“The National Gender Policy provides for at least 35% representation for women. The Abuja Federal High Judgement of 6 April 2022 also affirms this provision. This action and the dismal figure are discriminatory against women and a violation of Sections 14(3), 42, and 147 (3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Articles 2, 13, and 19 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights and Articles II and IX of the Maputo Protocol.

“The poor state of inclusion at the Commission is deplorable. As the primary electoral management body (EMB) responsible for presidential, governorship, and legislative elections across the country, INEC has the power to promote gender inclusion in the electoral process. However, its ability to do this will be limited if it is not gender-inclusive internally.

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“Given the poor state of women’s representation in decision-making processes in Nigeria, it is imperative to have an all-inclusive EMB (gender and PWD inclusive EMB) that can further drive the inclusion of women and other marginalised groups.

“We, t.fore, call on the government to implement the National Gender Policy, which calls for at least 35% affirmative action for women in elective and appointive offices, and Sections 29 and 30 of the PWDs (Prohibition) Act 2018 which mandate the government to ensure that PWDs can effectively and fully participate in the conduct of public affairs without discrimination with at least 5% inclusion.

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“Future appointments must take this principle seriously, otherwise, we risk completely marginalizing women and other vulnerable groups from meaningful participation in public life.

“Our demands will not only improve the status of marginalised groups – women and PWDs but also promote democratic consolidation in Nigeria. This is because the democratic principles of participation, representation, and inclusion will be better ad.d to when women and other marginalised groups are included in democratic institutions and practices.

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“It is our hope that subsequent nominations into INEC and other public institutions will be more inclusive and equitable.”

She added,”The Electoral Hub t.fore urges the President to comply with the Constitution, National Gender Policy, and PWD Act and ensure that subsequent appointments in all facets of governance in Nigeria abide by the principles of inclusivity, equity, fairness, and justice.”

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