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Nigerian Women’s Struggle To Become The Country’s First Female President

The move shocked supporters, like Raymond Chinedu, who saw her as a symbol of new hope for gender equality.

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Former Nigerian minister and Chibok girls activist Obiageli Ezekwesili speaks during an interview with Reuters in Abuja, Nigeria, Oct. 8, 2018. Ezekwesili dropped her presidential bid to support a coalition against the main parties. VOA

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in the last three years has fallen to 6 percent, and the top female presidential candidate, Oby Ezekwesili, has withdrawn from the race.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.

Supporters dismayed

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.

Ezekwesili co-founded the Bring Back Our Girls campaign in 2014 and openly marched against the government after Boko Haram terrorists abducted hundreds of schoolgirls
Ezekwesili co-founded the Bring Back Our Girls campaign in 2014 and openly marched against the government after Boko Haram terrorists abducted hundreds of schoolgirls .VOA

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.”

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z0c7fS9ND10

Name on the ballot

Ezekwesili co-founded the Bring Back Our Girls campaign in 2014 and openly marched against the government after Boko Haram terrorists abducted hundreds of schoolgirls.

The former education minister is also a co-creator of the anti-corruption agency, Transparency International. It’s a notable record in a country known for widespread corruption.

Also Read: WHO Calls for Accelerated Action To Eliminate Cervical Cancer

“Politics undermines everything that we do in this country, whether it is what citizens do, what businesses do, what the society at large does. it undermines governance,” Ezekwesili said.

Nigeria’s election commission said it was too late for Ezekwesili to withdraw from the presidential race and is likely to publish her name on the ballot.

This could split some of the opposition vote, and it’s unlikely Ezekwesili will even remain the top female candidate for president. (VOA)

Next Story

More Than 87,000 Groups on WhatsApp Targeting Voters: Report

The task is enormous and the stakes are high

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WhatsApp on a smartphone device. Pixabay

The first phase of voting begins from April 11 and WhatsApp – and not its parent company Facebook – has turned out to be the biggest social media platform for more than 87,000 groups to target millions with political messaging.

According to WhatsApp, over 20 crore Monthly Active Users (MAUs) are using its platform in India, but the fact is that these numbers are dated back to February 2017 and the company has not shared latest India numbers for over two years now.

India today has nearly 43 crore smartphone users, according to Hong Kong-based Counterpoint Research.

If we go by these numbers, 20 crore can’t be a right figure as almost every smartphone owner – from your grandpa to the maid at home — uses WhatsApp and is a potential target for the groups working round-the-clock to reach them.

“By the end of 2016, India had nearly 28-30 crore smartphone users. Today, it has crossed 40 crore.

“People across age-groups are using WhatsApp so it is safe to say that the Facebook-owned platform reaches over 30 crore Indians, almost to the size of Facebook users in the country or even bigger,” Tarun Pathak, Associate Director at Counterpoint Research, told IANS.

With Reliance Jio, data has gone ultra-cheap and political parties are now seen to livestream rallies, press meets and TV debates on Facebook and YouTube to reach their target audiences in the hinterlands.

“Over 87,000 groups aiming to influence the voters are currently active on WhatsApp. From fake statistics related to various government policies to news promoting regional violence, manipulated political news, government scams, historical myths, propaganda to patriotism and Hindu nationalism — WhatsApp has it all in the election season,” informed social media expert Anoop Mishra.

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FILE – The WhatsApp icon is seen on a smartphone in this picture illustration, in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. VOA

One WhatsApp Group can have a maximum of 256 users so these 87,000 groups can reach over 2.2 crore people directly.

Now imagine one user from these groups forwarding one message to five (maximum forward limit on WhatsApp) and these groups can actually engage a much bigger audience in their mission to influence voters.

Realising the importance of curbing fake news, WhatsApp has launched several initiatives, from awareness programmes on dangers of fake news on TV, radio and digital platforms to limiting the number of forwards to five.

It has also tied up with the Nasscom Foundation to train nearly 1,00,000 Indians to spot false information and provide tips and tricks to stay safe on WhatsApp.

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“We’re pleased that the recent changes we’ve made to limit viral content and educate users is having an impact. This work is never done — there is more that we can and will do,” WhatsApp India head Abhijit Bose said in a statement recently.

WhatsApp, including other social media firms, will now have to process any request from the Election Commission to take down content within three hours during the 48-hour period before voting days.

The task is enormous and the stakes are high.

“WhatsApp has been trying to curb the spread of fake news but has got a little success in doing so. Let us see how the things unfold as we enter the crucial election time,” added Mishra. (IANS)