By Uche Amunike
The First Lady of Nigeria, Hajiya Aisha Buhari, while hosting presidential aspirants to an Iftar dinner at the Old Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja, Saturday, enjoined them to choose women as their running mates, come 2023.
Speaking to the Presidential aspirants from different political parties during the Ramadan Iftar (breaking of the Muslim fast), Aisha Buhari stated that it was about time women were picked as running mates at all levels especially as their voting strength and active involvement in political processes are actually active.
She reiterated that there was a need for fair play for women in politics, as that would ensure their greater participation in elective positions.
Hear her: ‘as we approach the 2023 election with greater hope, I am confident that Nigeria will continue to grow from strength to strength on the pedestal of our democratic tenets’.
She also appealed to the presidential hopefuls to concentrate on issues that strengthened Nigeria’s unity, brotherhood and national cohesion.
Her words: ‘We must replicate the 2015 experience by ensuring a free fair and violent free election in 2023. Ensure fair play and build bridges were necessary. Our journey is irreversible. You must remain focused on issues that strengthen the nation’.
While she educated them on the need to tolerate one another and thrive on maintaining peace especially when the campaigns begin, the first lady expressed hope that the present insecurity in the country will not stop it from experiencing tremendous growth.
The former Governor of Edo State, Oserheimen Osunbor addressed the gathering on behalf of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo. He described their meeting with the First Lady, Aisha Buhari as symbolic and went ahead to urge all aspirants to foster unity among Nigerians.
His words: ‘Aspirants should learn to practice politics without bitterness and imbibe the spirit of oneness. It is not going to be a do-or-die affair and it should not be’.
On his part, APC Chieftain and former governor of Lagos State, Ashiwaju Bola Tinubu thanked the First Lady, Aisha Buhari for assembling the different groups of Nigerians to share love and unity and also prayed for peace, unity and prosperity in Nigeria.
Bauchi State Governor and Presidential aspirant under the platform of the Peoples Progressive Party (PDP), described the gathering as historic, considering the calibre of attendees present. He made a promise to play the game of politicking with humility and mutual respect, particularly bearing the interest of Nigeria in mind, as well as respect for one another, notwithstanding party differences.
As for former Speaker, House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, he pointedly stated that if women failed in Nigeria it would not be their fault. It would be because men are weak.
Hear him: ‘I am making the following proposal in order for us men to walk the talk on Affirmative Action. Through constitutional amendment, we should create three House of Assembly seats per senatorial district in each state, exclusively reserved for women. These seats should rotate among the local councils in each of the senatorial districts in alphabetical order. The proposal creates nine guaranteed slots exclusively for women in each State House of Assembly’.
He explained that the proposal will guarantee women 324 seats in all State Assemblies as opposed to the prevailing situation where some State Assemblies have no single women, adding that women are free to contest the other general seats with men and even if they were to lose any other seats, each state Assembly must have a minimum of nine women as members.