Democracy On Human Rights Program

Democracy on Human Rights Project (DHRP) was a project funded by the American embassy in 2006 in preparation for the 2007 national, state and local elections. The project involved mainstreaming women leadership into the political process in the Niger Delta states of Bayelsa, Delta, Edo and Rivers.

NIDPRODEV designed a program to encourage women to run for political office by educating them on the campaigning and election process, giving them the opportunity to learn directly from woman politicians, training them in media techniques, and assisting them to develop state-wide networks of support.

NIDPRODEV worked closely with the Ministries of Women Affairs in all four states. In all, 24 women participated in a 3-day workshop in late 2006. At the end of the workshop, participants came up with a jingle which was broadcast during the campaign season by the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA) and a communiqué. The project was a huge success given the tight time constraint, small budget and number of women who won elections into public offices and the number of women appointed into political offices.

THE JINGLE
Stanza 1
You be woman O I be woman O
Vote for woman now
You be man O you get mother
Vote for woman now.

Stanza 2
You be man O You get sister O
Vote for woman now
You be man O you get wife O
Vote for woman now.

Stanza 3
You be boy O, You be girl O
Vote for woman now
E go better for you and me
E go better for us
Vote for woman now.

Entry point
Election 2007, Election 2007, Bell is ringing
Una don hear Election
Niger Delta people- oye
Una don hear election don come again O
 

THE COMMUNIQUE
After extensive deliberation and critical examination of the political process and acknowledging the emerging political scenario, participants observed the following:

Politics in the Niger Delta has been characterized by thugery, violence, intimidation and harassment—especially targeted at women;

Women have often been victims of politics of imposition and selection, as their mandate and victories in elections have been jettisoned by political leaders and “Godfathers;”

The money currently fuelling politics—which is a serious source of corruption has greatly disadvantaged women, as women in public life have continued to discharge their duties with a sense of honesty and transparency;

The political class has continued to rate and see women as second class citizens who have to beg before being considered for public/elective positions;

Though most of the parties have in their own wisdom decided to have a waiver for women candidates vying for political office at all levels, there is however no constitutional provision at the party level in any of the political parties to make this a standard;

The affirmative action of 30% which is the minimum representation in elective and public office and the CEDAW law has not been domesticated, nor has any legislation been passed by the senate nor is there any attempt to do so or to implement at the political party level;

The endemic corruption in the Nigeria body polity does not recognize or acknowledge merit;

There is low level of apathy and willingness on the part of the women electorate to participate in the electoral process, as their voices and votes in the past have not really been encouraged or considered.

In view of the foregoing the women resolved as follows:

1. Politicians should avoid politics of thugery, violence and intimidation

2. Political leadership should stop forthwith the imposition of candidates as it does not promote and inculcate in the body polity any democratic value;

3. The importance of money should be de- emphasized from the political process

4. Women should be considered and treated as co-equals and not as second class citizens, as there are a great many women who have proven themselves in their chosen career and professions

5. The waiver for women on nomination fees should be enshrined in party constitutions

6. A process should be put in place to legislate on the issues of affirmative action and CEDAW at the national level and that pending national legislation, political parties should without delay implement the affirmative action by reserving a minimum of 30% for women at all levels including party congresses, delegate selection and party caucuses

7. People should be voted into offices based on merit, as all agencies of government, civil society organizations should support the efforts of EFCC to bring sanity to the political system

8. Women are encouraged through the process not to lose hope, but to instead participate actively in the present validation exercise throughout all the states.

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