The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Thursday organised a sensitisation forum for women in Edo State to educate them on the need to vote wisely on September 10 and not to mortgage their conscience for bags of rice.
Blessing Obidegwu, the Deputy Director, Gender Division, INEC headquarters, stated this in Benin City while delivering lecture to Edo State women, civil society, nongovernmental organisations and women leaders from all markets across the state.
Obidegwu, who put the statistics of prospective voters in Edo State at 1,925,105, stated that women make up a large percentage but regretted that women’s participation is very low.
According to the INEC deputy director, “It is regrettable that only one political party fielded a woman candidate out of the 19 political parties contesting the Edo gubernatorial election and 8 fielded women as deputy governor, even the increase in the deputy was as a result of our several engagement with political parties on the needs for them to involve more women in the political process”.
Obidegwu further advised women in the state to inculcate the message of peace to their children who usually are tools in the hands of desperate politicians.
“Mothers bear the brunt of most violence in elections; therefore, you should dissuade your children from being used as political thugs by politicians”.
While decrying the spate of inconclusive elections in Nigeria, she said Edo State could be different if violence, over voting, and impunity by political parties are discouraged.
Also speaking at the forum was Uloma Osuala, the Deputy Country Director, International Foundation of Electoral Systems (IFES), who said women should not just make the numbers during voting but should actively participate in the electoral process like contesting election while Mufuliat Fijabi, who is the Gender Advisor to IFES spoke intensively on the need for women to vote rightly and not allow themselves to be intimidated by even their spouse.
Meanwhile, Sam Olumekun, the resident electoral commissioner of Edo State, who was represented by Mathew Ogwuocha also spoke extensively on the consequences of selling of vote, violence, and role women can play to make the election free, fair and transparent.