ABUJA, NIGERIA – Women’s Situation Room Nigeria (WSRN) has expressed concern at the timing of the decision from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to postpone the February 16 and March 2, 2019 elections to February 23 and March 9, 2019 respectively.
WSRN highlighted the ripple effect that this decision has on the nation, noting that most observer groups had already deployed observers to the field, citizens had travelled to exercise their rights, and schools had been shut down to accommodate the process. The last-minute decision from INEC therefore comes at great human and financial costs.
WSRN noted that the delay has a disproportionate impact on women candidates, who typically have fewer resources than their male counterparts, and on women voters, who often bear the responsibility for childcare and may find it more difficult to travel to vote.
Despite this setback for Nigerian democracy, WSRN urged Nigerians to remain calm. WSRN National Coordinator Dr. Joy A Onyesoh said:
“We call upon all Nigerians to remain calm and peaceful. We also call on all political parties to disseminate the message of peace to all their supporters.
We encourage the media to disseminate the information of the postponement of the elections in the local languages in a conflict-sensitive manner.
We urge our traditional and religious leaders to use their positions of influence to educate their followers and prevail on them for sustained peace throughout this electoral process.
To the women of Nigeria, we urge you not to be discouraged but continue to play your peacebuilding role within your communities to ensure that the elections are carried out peacefully. This reinforces the importance of the work we are doing on the ground. We will not be deterred but will keep advocating and pressing forward.
Thank you, and God bless Nigeria.”
WSRN is a process that was established in 2015 to observe the general elections from a gendered perspective and provide conflict mitigation strategies. It is an initiative of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom Nigeria (WILPF Nigeria).
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