From Blessing Ibunge, Port Harcourt
Political party leaders in Rivers state have been charged to take proactive measures to end political violence in the state.
The charge was given during a political consultative meeting organized recently in Port Harcourt by Centre for Environment, Human Rights and Development, CEHRD with support from the Embassy of the Netherlands in
The Participants at the meeting noted that since violence was infused into politics, participation in politics has become extremely risky and dangerous, especially for women.
They expressed worries and concerns that the violence constitute a big obstacle to women participation in governance, lamenting that despite efforts to encourage women to venture into active politics, women participation has remained very poor and discouraging.
Lady Doris Onyeneke who facilitated the meeting on behalf of CEHRD, said “there is need for serious actions to be taken to ensure that thuggery, use of force, intimidation and violence are eliminated from politics and politicking in the society to enable women seek political positions without fear”.
She stated that political party leaders are in a very good position to end violence in politics by adopting and implementing actions aimed at deterring politicians from using thugs and other merchants of violence for election purposes.
Onyeneke said there is need for a safe and sane environment that allows people to participate freely in politics without fear of intimidation and
Earlier in his opening remark, the Coordinator of CEHRD, Prof Nenibarini Zabbey stated that the meeting was part of the efforts of CEHRD and
other gender sensitive civil society organizations ensure that women come out of their closets and embrace politics and governance.
He said the level of apathy being displayed by women towards participation in governance at all levels is very worrisome, adding that the negative
attitudes of women towards political participation may not be unconnected with the deep rooted patriarchy system being practiced in
He noted that subjugation and discrimination against women have become an age-long entrenched norms which can not be wished away easily, but which can be surmounted through concerted efforts of all and sundry.
He urged political party leaders at the meeting to use their positions and ensure that policies favourable to women participation are adopted and implemented by their parties.
In his own contribution, David Vareba, head of human rights and governance at CEHRD noted that the meeting was designed to bring together leaders of political parties in the state to discuss on how to support women’s political participation initiatives.
In a communiqué produced at the end of the meeting, the participants, who included leaders of major political parties in the state called the government of Nigeria to address the security problem in the society with view to removing violence from politics.
They also called on the government to reduce the cost of participating in elections, saying that elections should not be centred on highest bidders.
Political party leaders were told to tame their members to desist from the use of thuggery and violence during elections, as elections are not
supposed to be a do or die affair. The participants further demanded that cultures and practices that limit women’s activities in their communities should be reviewed and removed.