When Nigerians go to the polls Feb. 16 for general elections, few will be expecting large numbers of female candidates to win.
The share of women in Nigeria’s government in the last three years has fallen to 6 percent, and the top female presidential candidate, Oby Ezekwesili, has withdrawn from the race.
Ezekwesili, a Nigerian technocrat, was aiming to change Nigeria’s political landscape by running to become the country’s first female president.
But she pulled out of the race three weeks before the Feb. 16 vote to support a coalition against the main parties.
The move shocked supporters, like Raymond Chinedu, who saw her as a symbol of new hope for gender equality.
“In Nigeria it is difficult to support a woman to that level, so that’s where the disappointment comes in. But we believe if the men have failed all this while, it is our mindset that at least having a woman in the system, running the system, we believe that things would have taken a different shape,” Chinedu said.
Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission says women occupy only 6 percent of political offices, and he blames cultural and religious factors for the shortage of women in politics.
“… Rwanda even has a higher percentage,” said Oluwole Osaze, the commission’s director. “Part of it is probably because of affirmative action because, in their laws, in their constitution they have things like that. We don’t have that.”