Nigerian Women Aspirants

The Nigeria women aspirants website, is a platform brought by Women in Politics Forum to help in its goal of ensuring more succesful female political leaders in Nigeria

WELCOME NOTE

Barr. Ebere Ifendu

President, Women In Politics Forum

WELCOME NOTE

Introduction to Women Aspirants Platform

The Objective of this website is to profile female political actors ahead of the 2023 general elections and beyond. It serves to stimulate conversations around women's dwindling political participation in Nigeria.

Women generally have limited access to the media which plays a vital role in shaping discussion on candidates and elections, and is thus an important partner in advancing women's political participation. However, the potrayal of women in the media militates against their involvement. This website will correct those negative narratives.

WELCOME NOTE

H.E Pauline K. Tallen

Minister for Women Affairs

WELCOME NOTE

A word from the Minister for Women Affairs

This is a very good initiative. It is coming at the right time with all efforts put in place by the ministry of Women Affairs and her partners to ensure that the Constitution is amended to include affirmative action.

I encourage any women aspiring to participate in the upcoming 2023 elections and beyond to log on to the website.

This will not only increase support base but will also have the required statistics for advocacy.

#HerStory: Women's journey into politics

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Madam Salome Abuh, A Matyr of Leadership in Service of People

Women in politics, both past and present, have had to make decisions and take paths that would advance lasting legacies. Every day, courageous women are imagining and empowering a better future, by women and for women. The Nigerian political scene is not left out in this.  For some people, politics is just a game, for others, it is an uninteresting field of bloodshed and corruption, however, despite these conceptions of what politics is to different people, there are those who believe that politics is a field of influence and an instrument of change. This is the story of Mrs. Salome Abuh, who on November 16th, 2019, became a martyr for Nigerian politics; a sacrifice in the game of men.  

Salome Achejuh Abuh was, at the time of her murder, the woman leader of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Wada/Aro campaign council and she was described by party members as one who dedicated her life to the success of the party. She was a grass root politician/ community leader. She was a women leader for PDP from the early years of her political career. She had her first elective position as a councilor in Ofu Local Government Council of Kogi state between 2003 and 2007. She contested for Idah Federal constituency for House of Representatives in 2007 and was the only woman among the contestants. She was special assistant on grass root matters to former governor Idris Wada. She contested in the last 2019 general elections for the state House of assembly under the PDP platform. She was an active member of PDP and a campaign team member for Engr. Musa Wada and the PDP women leader. It was clear that this was a woman who understood her assignment as a politician and was making her own way, not as a politician’s woman, but a political woman.

One may be quick to conclude that her death was just one of the “mere casualties of electoral violence”, but is that what it truly is? For those of us who have no clue about this story, here’s a run down of the events that led to her death. The murder of Salome Abuh was preceded by the 2019 Kogi state gubernatorial elections which was characterized with electoral violence.

On Saturday, 16th November, at the Ochadamu Primary school polling unit, one of the attackers had told her husband, Elder Abuh, he was going to deal with his younger brother, Gowon Abuh, who is a strong supporter of the PDP. The attacker further said  the election was for the APC and there was nothing anyone could do about it.

After casting his vote, her husband headed home and left his wife at the polling unit to observe the electoral process when his brother, the said Gowon, rushed home to inform him that his wife was being beaten where she was observing the electoral process and those who tried to intervene were threatened to be stabbed. As he was contemplating on what to do next, one Elder Samuel Salami Agbali brought the deceased home on his motorcycle and she was then rushed to Holy Memorial Hospital where she was attended to by a Dr. Agama who examined her, prescribed some drugs and told her to rest in order to recover from the trauma of the attack. Elder Abuh then proceeded to Abuja leaving his wife at their home in Ochadamu to rest.

It was while he was in Abuja that he got a distressing call from another of his brothers who informed him that the life of their brother, Gowon Abuh, was in danger as he was being threatened by some APC supporters and one of his attackers had been injured in the process. This attacker later died from the injuries and this stirred rage amongst some APC supporters and they went into town sporadically shooting.

It was this death of the said attacker that triggered the murderers rampages and they set the compound, which was Madame Salome’s residence ablaze. Now, to show the extent of the intent to commit murder that the perpetrators had, witnesses stated that as the houses were set ablaze, the perpetrators kept shooting around the premises of the compound and this prevented the witnesses from coming to her rescue as they were afraid of being gunned down. It was also reported that the deceased was seen trying to escape the fire from a window but her attackers kept shooting at that particular possible escape route and she could not eventually escape. When she woke up on the day of her murder, it was never conceived in her mind that it would be her last day, when she decided to become a politician, she did not know that she had chosen her death bed. 

When the incidence happened, the PDP gubernatorial candidate and other party members expressed their sorrow over her murder and called for justice to be done as they attested that the party had lost someone of value. The late Mrs. Abuh was first attacked at her election booth where she was observing the elections as a party executive. She was attacked for not yielding and surrendering her booth as she stayed and conducted her affairs as she ought to. She became a victim of electoral violence for doing right by her party and not yielding as there was no protection accorded her by the party while executing her duties.

From the moment the gruesome murder of Mrs. Salome Abuh was announced, the Nigerian women, particularly those in the political scene, have raised their voices in unity on the murder as it indeed constitutes a threat to women’s participation in politics in Nigeria across various levels. Hajiya Mariya Waziri, the National Women Leader of the People’s Democratic party, urged all stakeholders and the international community to ensure the murder was not swept under the carpet and the perpetrators allowed to go scot-free. According to the Vanguard, her exact words were “This beastly act of terror marks the beginning of a political attrition where innocent and vulnerable citizens, especially women, are foreclosed to political participation through intimidation and gruesome murder…” A coalition of women organizations which included Women in Politics Forum, Nigerian Women Trust Fund and the Voice of Women and others raised their voices in unity over the death of their comrade as her death was recognized as an attempt to cow women from coming out to participate in politics and unless the killers were brought to justice, there might be difficulties in convincing women to participate in politics. 

Her story speaks of a woman whose singular crime was that she dared to choose politics as her field of impact. It is no news that the percentage of women who won elections has declined in recent years, though, it is clear from activities going on that women are making more valuable impact in politics and are clamoring for more inclusivity now more than ever. What then seems to be the problem? The problem is that women in politics are being sidelined and silenced in various ways and it is important to note here that women’s engagement in political activities does not only begin and end at the contest for political positions. 

AFTERMATH OF THE MURDER: 

We cannot discuss the aftermath of her murder without first considering her family, the first recipient of her loss. Her husband, Simeon Abuh, in a tribute, said that his late wife had paid the supreme price for the unity of Igala land. He described her as “a martyr, whose political sagacity will remain fresh in the mind of her associates”. While speaking to the press, her husband, Elder Abuh, expressed his pain on how his wife could be gruesomely murdered on account of political differences in a democratic society. He expressed great sorrow over her loss as the family has not felt the same since her murder, his words were “our light has been put off”. This is a family that has been traumatized and was eagerly awaiting justice to be served. But now, two years after this gruesome incident, can we truly say that Justice has been gotten? The Penal code provides the sentence for a person found guilty of culpable homicide punishable with death, which is the offence committed in this case, and the least sentence such a person can be given is life imprisonment. However, as it stands, the sentence that was given was a 12 year imprisonment sentence. One can only ask that when put on the imaginary scale and weighed with the life that was lost and the impact of that lost life on society and women’s political participation, will the sentence given count as justice served? The answer is an obvious no.

For women in politics, this murder sends a strong message of fear and it serves as a great discouragement for women’s participation in politics. When Salome died, the Igala land and Nigeria lost a gem for in her own way, she contributed to women’s participation in politics.  For the “ordinary” woman who has no political aspiration or ambition, she is overcome by the fear of losing her life if she comes out to exercise her franchise. She says to herself, “after all, the woman attacked at the booth was a politician who was a party executive and she should be accorded some party protection, yet not only was she attacked on the election day, she was also murdered afterwards.” If this is the case with women without political aspirations and ambitions, what then becomes of the woman whose sphere is the Nigerian political scene? She is more afraid to get involved in party activities or take up responsibilities at the party level for this is a woman whose life was taken because she carried out her party responsibilities to the last. And when we do not have women willing to participate in party activities, this will reflect in the willingness of women to emerge as political aspirants and candidates.

Will the Nigerian women then back out of the Nigerian political scene? The answer is and will forever be no for women like Salome whose life was taken on the altar of politics. Though we be afraid that the same fate should befall us, we will take that fear and shape it into a zeal, a zeal to create a political atmosphere where women will no longer be afraid to aspire to occupy political positions, zeal to fuel the passion for politics in our young women and that zeal that will not fade till the Nigerian women are fully represented in a functional democratic government, and not just the Nigerian women, the youths and persons living with disabilities too. 

As Salome’s story shows us, a woman in politics is one who is involved in activities of her political party, one who has been trusted with responsibility and has proven herself over time. She is that woman who speaks up every time her fellow woman is marginalized in whatever form, she is the one who registers to be among the voters as she understands that there is power in her vote and her vote can never be a wasted vote. She is one who not only registers but ensures she goes out to vote as she refuses to be intimidated. She is equipped with the knowledge of the power of her vote.

This is the resolve Salome Abuh’s story has led us to, what will your own story be? You decide that today…

No person especially women should have to lose their lives when seeking political office

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