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in the last three years has fallen to 6 percent, and the top female presidential candidate, Oby Ezekwesili, has withdrawn from the race.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

Nigeria, Cameroon Vow to Tackle Terrorism

The Cameroon-Nigeria Transborder Security Committee has as prime objective strengthening border security for both countries. It was created in 2012 in Nigeria

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Cameroon and Nigeria agreed on Friday to take further measures to boost multifaceted cooperation in the fight against terrorism along their shared border. Wikimedia Commons

Nigeria has promised to assist Cameroon in combating the separatist crisis rocking the central African country’s English speaking region. The pledge, made during a security meeting, has been described by Cameroon authorities as reassuring, following accusations that separatist fighters in Cameroon were being trained in Nigeria, and that weapons they use are brought in through the neighboring country.

Brigadier General Emmanuel Adamu Ndagi, leader of the Nigerian delegation to the Cameroon-Nigeria transborder security meeting that ended in Yaounde Saturday, says his country has been seriously affected by the separatist crisis in the English-speaking regions of Cameroon.

The closure of parts of the border has led to a sharp decline in food imports, like sorghum, rice and onions, to Nigeria on one hand, while basic commodities exported from Nigeria, like fuel, are hard to get into Cameroon. Ndagi says because of the security, economic and humanitarian threats caused by the separatist war, Nigeria will support Cameroon in bringing peace to its troubled regions.

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Delegates respect the Cameroon and Nigerian anthem during the Yaounde security meeting in Camerron, July 6, 2019. ( Moki Kindzeka/VOA)

“The current political upheavals in that region will not be allowed to affect our cordial relations,” said Ndagi. “We will continue to support your efforts to bring lasting peace to the region. This will facilitate the return of Cameroonian refugees that have crossed the border into Nigerian territory. We must reduce vulnerabilities along our borders that are being exploited to perpetrate transnational organized crime notably terrorism, proliferation of small arms and light weapons as well as piracy.”

When Cameroon declared war on the armed separatists in November 2017, it said gunmen were attacking border localities in Cameroon’s southwest and escaping to Nigeria, where some of them were trained. Nigeria denied the assailants were crossing over from its territory into Cameroon.

In January 2018, 47 separatists, including Ayuk Tabe Julius, head of a group from Cameroon’s Angolphone regions pushing for a breakaway from the French-dominant country, were arrested in Abuja, Nigeria, extradited and jailed in Cameroon.

Paul Atanga Nji, territorial administration minister and Cameroon’s leader of the delegation to the security meeting, says in spite of the collaboration, the separatists continue to use porous borders to import weapons through Nigeria, making the security situation very uncertain.

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Weapons used by separatist fighters suspected to have been made in Nigeria and brought into Cameroon, June 6, 2019. ( Moki Kindzeka/VOA)

“The security situation along our common borders has all of a sudden become a cause for concern,” Nji said. “These threats take the following forms. Secessionist tendencies, illegal exploitation of natural resources, conflicts between boarder communities, highway robbery, drug and human trafficking, illicit trafficking of fire arms, agro pastoral conflicts etc.”

The UNHCR says that by December 2018 there were more than 32,000 Cameroonian refugees in Nigeria’s Cross River state. Nigeria’s longest international border is with Cameroon. All along the 1,975 kilometer border there are violent crises. Nigeria’s northeast states of Borno and Adamawa continue to have Boko Haram terrorist attacks.

As the Yaounde security meeting was going on, Kildadi Taguieke Boukar, governor of Cameroon’s Adamaoua region that shares a boundary with Nigeria’s Taraba state, announced renewed conflicts with Nigerians escaping farmer-herder clashes to Cameroon.

“There is a conflict along some tribes in Nigeria’s Taraba state. About 100 people from Nigeria flee [have escaped] to our territory around Kontcha division [administrative unit and], there is agro-pastoral [farmer-herder] conflicts,” Boukar said.

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Paul Atanga Nji, head of Cameroon delegation (left) and Brigadier General Emmanuel Adamu Ndagi, leader of the Nigerian delegation (right) in Yaounde, Cameroon, July 6, 2019. ( Moki Kindzeka/VOA)

Nigeria has not confirmed the renewed violence, but confrontations erupted last year in Cameroon’s Adamaoua region between farmers and Nigerian cattle ranchers who had escaped tribal wars in Taraba state.

ALSO READ: US Institute of Peace Trains Kenyan Women to Help Fight Terrorist Radicalization Campaigns

The Cameroon-Nigeria Transborder Security Committee has as prime objective strengthening border security for both countries. It was created in 2012 in Nigeria. Cameroon and Nigeria agreed on Friday to take further measures to boost multifaceted cooperation in the fight against terrorism along their shared border.

They did not disclose details of how their cooperation will be carried out, but they said they would share information regularly to stop terrorist activities including Boko Haram attacks and separatists fighting for the independence of an English-speaking sate in Cameroon. They said they would make it difficult for criminals to leave Nigeria for Cameroon and vice versa. (VOA)