Senator seeks enforcement of 30 per cent women representation in ECOWAS Parliament

Sen. Biodun Olujimi, a Member of the ECOWAS Parliament representing Nigeria, has said that the 30 per cent women representation in the Parliament must be enforced, in line with ECOWAS’ gender policy.

She stated this while speaking to journalists at the end of the ECOWAS Parliament’s High-level Seminar at its Second Extraordinary Session in Winneba, Ghana.

Olujimi, representing South in the Nigerian Senate, decried the low representation of Nigerian female legislators in the sub-regional Parliament, as compared to their male counterparts.

She said that out of the thirty-five-member Nigerian delegation to the ECOWAS Parliament, only two were women, adding that the ECOWAS Parliament must ensure that Member States complied with the provisions of the ECOWAS gender policy.

“It has been a very big issue for us because the eighth National Assembly had about five women in Parliament out of 35. We thought that low, until we came and found out that we were only two this time.

“And ECOWAS has a gender policy that says at least 30 per cent must be given to the chamber.

“But, Nigeria is a signatory to all forms of protocols from all over the world, but has never been able to domesticate them and make use of the protocols.

“At times I wonder what benefits are in signing protocols when you know that you will not do anything about them.

“I believe that the time has for ECOWAS to inform the National Assemblies of each of the 15 Member States that a gender policy exists, and that whenever consideration is being made for Parliamentarians, 30 per cent must be given to the female gender.

”And that will also evaporate down the line, because it means that if you are electing people into Parliament in your country, you now know that you must be able to put enough room.

“So that when you get there, you can always get enough to go into ECOWAS the Commonwealth Parliament. That is essential,” Olujimi said.

The senator also expressed optimism on Nigeria producing a female President in the not too distant future, saying that women were already beginning to gain momentum in the Nigerian political space.

She, however, urged women to continue to support each other, soliciting the support of men to ensure that women seized some of their opportunities.

“I see hope, a bright future, because for a very long time we did not agree we have a problem, we were all busy fighting each other rather than fighting the system that has refused to bring us out.

“But, now we have seen that the system is not willing to do anything for us unless we do it for ourselves and, so, we have started working at it.

“In my party, all women came together and said we want Deputy National Chairman and today, they are at the secretariat, lots of them, returning the form of a and saying, you must give us this one.

“By the time we build such movements, people will know that we are not joking. And the minute the parties know we are not joking, then the coast will be clear.

“I see it in the horizon because it is working across political divides,” Olujimi said.

Olujimi, who also intends to run for the Gubernatorial seat in the June 18, 2022, in state elections, said she is hopeful she will win.  (NAN)