The Alliance for Deepening Democracy (A4DD), a prominent civil society coalition, has issued a compelling call to action for newly elected State Governors to prioritize gender equity and inclusivity in the formation of their executive councils. The Alliance further emphasized the significance of appointing representatives from marginalized groups, including youths and persons with disabilities, as commissioners.
In a press statement released today in Abuja, the A4DD lauded Governors who have promptly nominated their commissioner nominees in accordance with the constitutional deadline. However, the coalition expressed apprehension over gender disparities and other imbalances that emerged from a comprehensive study conducted on commissioner appointments across various states.
The Alliance’s study disclosed unsettling findings, exposing a disconcerting divergence from the National Gender Policy, which stipulates a minimum allocation of 35 percent of appointive positions for women. Data from six states that have finalized their Executive Councils indicated a concerning lack of adherence to this policy.
For instance, in Osun State, a mere two out of the 25 appointed commissioners are women, accounting for only 8 percent of the state’s cabinet. Similarly, in Taraba State, which boasts the highest proportion of women commissioners among the studied states, only seven out of 21 appointed commissioners are women, amounting to 33 percent of the state cabinet.
Beyond gender disparities, the Alliance strongly condemned the recurrent practice of appointing children or other relatives of former governors and influential political figures as commissioners. This practice, the Alliance argued, fosters the growth of undemocratic political dynasties and nepotism, undermining the principles of good governance.
This perpetuation of political power within a select few families, regardless of their competence, creates a landscape where influential figures consistently impact governmental decision-making. Mr. Edetaen Ojo, the Executive Director of Media Rights Agenda (MRA) and Chair of the Alliance’s Steering Committee, underscored the urgent need for inclusive representation in government structures.
Mr. Ojo stated, “Ensuring gender equity and diversity in the composition of executive councils at both the Federal and State levels is imperative to promote social cohesion and establish a fair and inclusive society where all members feel valued.” He emphasized that diversity in representation is a fundamental element of democratic governance and should not be left to the absolute discretion of Governors.
The Alliance called upon Governors who are yet to nominate their commissioners to expedite the process, as mandated by Section 192(6) of the 1999 Constitution, which stipulates that nominations must be made within sixty days of the Governor’s oath of office. The coalition urged these Governors to seize the opportunity to set a precedent for equitable and inclusive governance that reflects the diversity and aspirations of the populace.