Appointment of Recs: CSO tasks FG on gender policy

The Electoral Hub, a Civil Society Organisation (CSO) has urged the Federal Government to  comply with the Constitution, National Gender Policy and Persons With Disabilities (PWDs) Act in appointment of Independence National Electoral Commission’s (INEC) Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs).

Ms Princess Hamman-Obels, Initiative for Research, Innovation, and Advocacy in Development (IRIAD),the Electoral Hub, made the call in a statement on Tuesday in Abuja.

Hamman-Obels said that compliance with the Constitution, National Gender Policy, and PWD Act would ensure that  appointments in all facets of governance in Nigeria would abide by the principles of inclusivity, equity, fairness, and justice.

She said that the Electoral Hub commended President Muhammadu Buhari for his quick appointment of 19 new RECs, noting that the  National Gender Policy provides for at least 35 per cent representation for women.

She recalled that the Abuja Federal High Judgement of 6 April 2022 also affirmed that the dismal figure were discriminatory against women.

She added that it was 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.

She said that the appointments were right on time to fill the vacancies occasioned by the end of tenure for over 20 RECs whose tenures end on July 6  and Aug. 15.

She said, “These timely appointments are good for the certainty and stability of the electoral process. It is also critical for effective preparation for the 2023 general election.

“However , the Electoral Hub raised concerns over the poor representation of women and PWD in President Buhari Appointment of 19 New RECs for INEC.

“We are dismayed at the poor representation of women and People with Disabilities (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. ‘’

Hamman-Obels  said that out of the new appointees, it was unfortunate to note that only 15.8 per cent were  women which called extremely poor representation with no PWDs representation.

According to her, this trend is also replicated at the National level with only two women National Commissioners (15.4 per cent) out of 13 members Commission and no PWD.

She said that the poor state of inclusion at the Commission was deplorable.

She said, “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.

“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. ‘’

Hamman-Obels,  therefore, called on the government to implement the National Gender Policy, which called for at least 35 per cent affirmative action for women in elective and appointive offices.

She also called for the implementation of Sections 29 and 30 of the PWDs (Prohibition) Act 2018 which mandate the government to ensure that PWDs fully participate in the conduct of public affairs without discrimination with at least  five per cent inclusion.

She said that future appointments should  take this principle seriously, otherwise, the nation risked completely marginalising women and other vulnerable groups from meaningful participation in public life.

Hamman-Obels expressed hope  that subsequent nominations into INEC and other public institutions would be more inclusive and equitable.

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