By Douglas Okoro
Female politicians in Ebonyi now have every reason to vie for any elective position of their choice without hindrance as the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state has resolved to give women aspirants in the 2019 general elections party’s nomination forms free of charge.
The APC Chairman in the state, Chief Eze Nwachukwu, announced this when he declared open the APC Ebonyi women stakeholders meeting in Abakaliki on Sunday.
He noted that the initiative was to encourage more women politicians to get involved in elective political activities.
Nwachukwu urged them to support the emergence of more elected women office holders, and advised those interested to avail themselves of the opportunity to participate.
He commended the women and organisers of the meeting and urged them to make the women’s gathering more regular.
“We are promising that our great party will give out free nomination forms to women aspirants in the forthcoming 2019 general elections in Ebonyi and this is in line with our party’s policy.
“The gesture is to demonstrate that our great party is gender sensitive and also intended to encourage more qualified women to participate actively in elective political positions.
“Women were given free nominations during our congresses and we are going to demonstrate a similar gesture in the election because women have more numerical strength and vote more than men during elections,” Nwachukwu said.
He admonished women to resist all forms of intimidation, monetary inducements and harassment from desperate politicians.
Nwachukwu urged them to collect their Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) and to ensure that they did not sell or exchange them for any price.
The chairman also appealed to the women to guide their children and ensure that they were not used for political thuggery and election violence during the 2019 general elections in the state.
“You must not sell your voter cards because your PVC is your power and legal mandate to make the change we all need.
“Those who are yet to register should go and register, while all who registered but have not obtained the voter cards should go to the INEC local government area offices to collect them,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Convener of the meeting, Mrs Modesta Nwogbaga, said that it was a platform to reach out to women with a view to sensitising them on the need to participate actively in the forthcoming general elections.
Nwogbaga, Coordinator of the 2019 Buhari/Osinbajo Campaign Initiative for Ebonyi, said that the meeting provided a forum to engage the women, encourage them to register and collect their PVCs, as well as sensitise them to resist vote selling, intimidation and harassment.
She urged women to participate actively in the political process, adding that the APC-led administration was committed to enhancing the capacity of women in politics.
The convener assured that the party would accord more priority to women in both elective and appointive political positions in 2019.
“Under the APC watch, the capacity and political potential of women politicians are being enhanced and deployed to produce governors, more Senators, House of Representatives members, state legislators and even the president of this country,” Nwogbaga said.
She called for sustained support from Ebonyi women to the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government to enable the administration continue in its delivery of democracy dividends to the people.
Mrs Nwogbara also urged women to support the emergence of credible candidates under the APC platform for the various elective positions in 2019.
“I urge you to support those who are qualified, credible and electable to emerge as our party’s flagbearers in the forthcoming 2019 elections.
“I plead with my fellow women whose husbands are aspiring but do not have what it takes to win elections, to drop the idea,” she said.
Another chieftain and wife of the former governorship candidate of the Labour Party in the 2015 elections, Mrs Mary Nkwegu, urged the women party leaders to move into their various wards to educate, sensitise and mobilise grassroots women on the collection of their PVCs.
Nkwegu said that only the PVC could qualify a person to participate in choosing elected leaders.
She advised women to ensure that they voted in large numbers and to ensure that their votes counted in the elections.
The wife of the immediate-past governor of Ebonyi, Mrs Josephine Elechi, urged the women to shun vices that could make them compromise their conscience during the elections.
Elechi called on the women to participate actively in the 2019 electoral processes, including going out to register, collecting their PVCs, as well as voting in the elections.
She warned women to be mindful of politicians allegedly going about collecting voter cards from ‘unsuspecting’ members of the public in exchange for jobs, money and other material gifts.
The former First Lady urged women to utilise their voting strength and vote wisely to elect leaders that would effect positive changes.
Elechi further urged Ebonyi women to ensure that their children and wards were not used for political thuggery, before, during and after the elections.
“I urge you to resist all forms of financial inducements during the 2019 general elections and ensure that you guard your voter cards.
“Do not engage in actions that will hinder the development of the state and mortgage the future of our children and those yet unborn.
“We encourage you to register and obtain your cards to participate in choosing the next representatives,” Elechi said.