YIAGA AFRICA decries exclusion of women, youths in party primaries

A Civil Society Organisation (CSO) YIAGA AFRICA on Friday expressed worry over high rate of exclusion of women and youths at the just concluded party primaries in Nigeria.
Ms Cynthia Mbamalu, Project Director, YIAGA AFRICA said this in a document on the group’s Watching the Vote Statement on the Conduct of Political Party Primaries for the 2019 General Elections in Abuja.
Mbamalu said that as part of efforts to deepen the integrity of candidate selection process, YIAGA AFRICA WTV observed the conduct of primaries to assess their compliance with democratic principles.
She said part of the observations entailed highlighting recommendations for improving the integrity and quality of party primaries.
“The just concluded primaries witnessed a high rate of political exclusion, especially of the women and youths.
“This exclusion came in the form of high cost of nomination and expression of interest forms, outright refusal to sell forms to especially young females, undue disqualifications, impositions, etc.
“This implies that the largest chunk of our population and indeed the electorate was deprived of the opportunity of running for offices in the forthcoming elections.
“Democracy should be inclusive and participatory in nature.’’
Mbamalu said party primaries ought to promote the principles of inclusion and diversity to ensure equality and fairness.
She added: “But the just concluded primaries were fraught with high incidence of exclusion of women, young people and persons with disabilities as aspirants, party members or delegates.
“For instance, none of the presidential aspirants of the major parties was a woman, only the ADC had one female aspirant.
“For the delegates, there was also a very low representation of women, youths and person with disabilities.’’
Mbamalu said that while the presidential primaries had less cases of aspirant suppression, the same could not be said of legislative primary elections.
“For the presidential primaries, parties like PDP, SDP and ADC gave equal opportunity to aspirants to address delegates and audience.
“This was not the case in the governorship and legislative primaries,” she said.
She said that reports indicated that several aspirants especially women and youths were willfully excluded from contesting“ in the shoddy primaries’’.
She said the group observed deliberate substitution of candidates who won in primaries with supposed “anointed choices” of party leaders.
Mbamalu also said that there was disruption of voting and counting process to deny leading aspirants of opportunities to emerge as party candidates.
She said that in some instances, aspirants were disqualified from participating in the primaries in order to make way for anointed candidates.
This, she said was contrary to the provisions of the Electoral Act on internal democracy and openness.
She said that it also negated judicial decisions demanding that only candidates who contested in primaries could participate in the main election.

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