On Wednesday, January 23, 2019, the broadcasted episode of #WatchingTheVote program, hosted Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Women Trust Fund (NWTF), Ms. Mufuliat Fijabi to discuss issues on citizen participation, election observation and credible elections in 2019. This program was organized by YIAGA AFRICA through the frequency of the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN)in Abuja.

Responding to questions on women’s contribution to national development, the CEO opined that human capital development will be very low when you have a governance process that is not gender responsive. She continued by stating that unless the roles of marginalized groups are acknowledged and well recognized, the pace towards a developed country may be slow. “When you include women in any development process, it hastens development” Ms. Fijabi emphasized.

In her reflections on issues relating to inclusion of special groups and women’s participation in the electoral process, she stated that women are very important, and they make valuable contributions to the process hence they need to have the necessary context within which they can actively participate. On the participation of Persons with Disabilities (PwDs), Ms. Fijabi pointed out that according to World Bank a population of over 25 million people in Nigeria must be taken seriously in the electoral process as they play a very crucial role in deciding occupiers of elective offices. She urged INEC and other relevant stakeholders to make existing frameworks effective for PwDs to overcome identified challenges in the electoral process. She reaffirmed that the vote of women and persons living with disabilities in the upcoming general elections are very important.

In her concluding statements, Ms. Fijabi urged relevant stakeholders in the electoral system towards an optimal participation of marginal groups in any election process. In her words, the process to achieve this feat, is to operationalize continuous policies to challenge root causes against the attainment of an all-inclusive governance system.

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