The National Commissioner at the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Dr. Adekunle Ogunmola has expressed worry over the decline of women participation in the electoral process.

Ogunmola said this during a strategic meeting with gender focused Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) on women participation in the 2019 general elections in Enugu on Monday.

The national commissioner, represented by the INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner in Enugu, Mr Emeka Ononammadu, said that low participation of women in the electoral process was not a good signal to the growth of democracy in the country.

Ogunmola also said that political processes needed to begin to respond to issues of women inclusion and empowerment as they constituted 48 per cent of Nigeria’s population.

“This has become imperative considering the marked decrease in the number of women who won elective positions in 2015 general elections.

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“Not only that women are not winning elections but available information shows that in 2015 general elections, only 44 per cent of female voters came out for accreditation compared to 56 percent male voters.

“This is contrary to the previous wide held view that more women come out to vote,” he said.

He said that information about the involvement of women with the rerun and major elections conducted by INEC since 2015 elections also painted a dismal picture.

Ogunmola said that it was imperative to point out such lapses on the part of women to enable them prepare well for the 2019 general elections.

“As we move to the 2019 general elections, there is need to sustain and continue to interrogate issues of the participation of women in Nigeria’s development and political process to ensure greater inclusion,” he said.

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Ogunmola appealed to CSOs to play counterpart roles in critical aspects of the electoral process.

INEC Deputy Director, Gender Division, Mrs Blessing Obidiegwu said that though the 2015 general elections witnessed more female aspirants than previous years, but fewer won elective positions.

Obidiegwu said it was discouraging given that the participation of women in political governance and decision making process was a major goal in the Global Development Agenda as embodied in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

She said that the electoral body had sustained engagement with stakeholders to improve and strengthen the participation of women, thereby, increasing their numbers in elective positions.

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The deputy director said that it had become imperative to create an organised platform to strengthen the participation of women in the electoral process.

“This is coming as a result of the political context in Nigeria which is full of dynamics and require broad based consultations and interventions to close the gender gap,” she said.

Obidiegwu said that CSOs had consistently played increasing roles in advocacy and intervention towards strengthening the participation of women in governance.

“Although minimal gains were recorded over the years, there was a draw back in 2011 and 2015 general elections from 9.06 percent to 5.8 percent respectively compared to 11 percent in 2007 general elections,” Obidiegwu said.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), reports that the event featured questions and answer by the participating CSOs.