Women and Political Participation in Nigeria

The major thrust of this paper is to look at the level of political participation of Nigerian women in
politics and the form of hindrances, if there is any, that prevent them from actively participating in
politics, using available data as well as primary source of data generation. Comparatively, the rate at
which men participate in politics is incredibly higher than their female counterparts. This is not to say,
however, that there has not been a progressive increase in the trend of women participation in politics
in terms of appointments and elections, but the participation is considered low considering the
international standard of 30% benchmark.
In 1992 for instance, under the Babangida’s administration, out of 300 gubernatorial aspirants,
only 8 were women representing 2.6% and none of these women was elected as governor (Iloh and
Ikenna, 2009:117). Research has shown that exclusion of women in the party executives contributes in
no small measure to the marginalisation of women in politics, especially during party nominations
(Ako-Nai, 2005:491; Muhammed, 2006:51; Okoosi-Simbine, 2006:153; Iloh and Ikenna, 2009:117).
For the past 27 years, election of women into the National Assembly has not gone beyond
8.3%. Table 1 clearly shows that of 56 contestable seats in the Senate, only one woman was elected
and 3 out 442 were women in the House of Representatives. The story was the same in 1992 in the
Senate where only one woman emerged as Senator out of 90 and 14 out of 575 in the House of
It was also revealed, in table 2, that in the year 1999, out of 978 contestable seats in the 36
Houses of Assembly, men occupied 966 leaving 12 seats for women representing 1.2%. There was
upward movement in 2003 where women occupied 39 out of 951 seats representing 4%. In 2007,
women occupied 54 seats out of total of 990 with the percentage of 5.5. In the House of
Representatives, in the year 1999, out of total 360 seats, women occupied 13 representing 3.6%. In
2003, men occupied 318 out 339 leaving 21 seats for women of 3.6%. The number was increased in
2007 with women occupying a total of 25 seats representing 7%.
The story was the same in the Senate, where in 1999; women occupied 3 seats out of a total of
109 representing 2.8%. In 2003, men occupied 105 out of 109 seats leaving 4 for women representing
3.7%. There was an increase in 2007 as women occupied 9 seats out of 109 representing 8.3%