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Nigeria is the largest economy in West Africa and the third largest in Africa, and with a population of over 150 million, it is the most populous country on the continent. From April 9 to 26, 2011, Nigeria held parliamentary, presidential and governorship elections. Unfortunately the Independent National Election Commission, the body that oversees the country’s public office elections, did not issue any data about the number of women registered to vote. However it is estimated that half or slightly over half of the 73.5 million registered voters were women.i

Several hurdles hinder Nigerian women’s successful participation in politics.  Lack of internal democracy in the political parties hinders women’s emergence as candidates for elective positions. Godfathers who fund the political party machineries wield excessive power and have preference for male candidates. There is large scale discrimination against women within the political parties culminating in very few women holding offices in party decision-making structures and this manifests in the way female candidates are maltreated at all levels. Since men are usually in the majority of political party set up, they tend to dominate the party hierarchy and are therefore at an advantage in influencing the party’s internal politics. Women’s under representation arises from social, cultural and religious attitudes of different Nigerian societies which most often relegate women to the background. For the 2011 Presidential elections, only one woman - Chief (Mrs.) Ebiti Ndok, of UNPD emerged as a candidate. In the National Assembly elections, only 9.1% of the candidates were female.ii

 

Women’s Political Participation Recent Statisticsiii

Political Representation

Number of Seats

Number of women candidates

Number of women as of 2010

Number of women as of 2011

Presidential

1

1

0

None

Vice presidential

1

4

0

None

Senate

109

19

9 or 8.26%

7 or 6.42%

Governorship

36

13

0

0

Deputy Governorship

36

58

0

1

House of Representatives

360

13

25 or 6. 98%

12 or 3.33%

State House of Assembly

909

N/A

54 or 5.45

N/A

 

iKinoti Kathambi, Nigeria Elections Reflect Slow Progress for Women, accessed from www.awid.org 19th May 2011

iiNwankwo Oby, Women and 2011 Elections in Nigeria. Accessed from www.boellnigeria.org 13th April 2011

iiiIrabor, F.O, Reviewing Women’s Political Participation and Performance at the 2011 General Elections In Nigeria. Accessed from www.baobabwomen.blogspot.com 10th May 2011 & Agbalajobi, D. T. (2010). Women's Participation and the Political Process in Nigeria: Problems and Prospects. Africa Journal of Political Science and International Relations , 4 (2), 75-82.

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