The First Lady, Mrs Aisha Buhari, has appealed to Presidential Aspirants to adopt women as their running mates in the upcoming 2023 Presidential election.
She made the appeal on Saturday night when she hosted presidential aspirants from various political parties to Iftar dinner at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Some of those at the Iftar dinner were national leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi, Mallam Nasir El-Rufa’i of Kaduna, Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi are among the presidential aspirants attending the event.
Also, Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige; Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio; one-time National Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Barnabas Gemade; former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara; former governor of Edo State, Professor Oserheimen Osunbor; and oil and gas mogul, Tein Jack-Rich are also in attendance.
The First Lady also urged political parties to reserve certain percentage of contestable offices for women.
According to her, considering the voting strength and involvement of women in politics, they should be adopted as running mates in the forthcoming elections.
“In fact, it is high time women were adopted as running mates at all levels, considering their voting strength and active involvement in political processes.
“As we approach the 2023 elections with greater hope, I am confident that Nigeria will continue to grow from strength to strength on the pedestal of our democratic tenets,” she said.
She also encouraged the aspirants to ensure that the forthcoming elections are fair and free.
According to her, the 2015 presidential election, which her husband, President Muhammadu Buhari, won “was neither contested in the court of law, nor in the court of public opinion.
“Therefore, the greatest end-of-tenure gift that fellow Nigerians can give to the first family is another free and globally-acknowledged fair election come 2023″, she said.
Notable politicians in their goodwill messages urged politicians to avoid politics of acrimony, but rather remember that they do not have any other nation outside Nigeria, even as they called on aspirants to be courageous enough to accept defeat, while also being magnanimous in victory.
Former Governor of Edo state, Oserheimen Osunbor, who spoke on behalf of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, also described the gathering as “symbolic” for creating unity, urging all the aspirants to always strive to foster unity amongst Nigerians to contribute towards building the nation.
“The aspirants should learn to practice politics without bitterness and imbibe the spirit of oneness. It is not going to be a do or die affair and it should not be”, he said.
Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, called for unity amongst aspirants, adding that “If anybody tells you that the way we are playing politics now is the best, it is not true. We have to do a rethink. We need unity, God knows who will take it”
Bauchi state Governor, Bala Mohammed, described the gathering as historic, adding that it is only the First Lady “that could bring me here today” He commended the First Lady for her motherly roles in uniting Nigerians, adding that “being patient has made you to stand out”
Speaking on his ambition, Governor Mohammed said “I am not saying I am the best, as some of the best are yet to come out. I assure you that I will make sure that we do our game of politicking putting Nigeria first”.
Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State commended the First Lady for the well thought out program that attracted people of diverse political backgrounds, saying “it should be all about our nation and patriotism. We should put our nation above ourselves. This kind of gathering is going to douse hate speeches. We have to have Nigeria first. This will foster greater unity and put Nigeria first”.
Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El Rufai, urged the aspirants not to neglect the Northwest.
The Governor who noted that “Nigeria is at cross road” added “we need people with experience. I must stress the importance of the Northwest Zone. Kano, Kaduna and Katsina, if you want to succeed, come and talk to us in the North West zone”.
Tein Jack-Rich, a presidential aspirant, urged the young people to join politics to turn around situations “that have held the nation captive, so that we can become voice for the voice less”
Wife of the Vice President, Dolapo Osinbajo, described the gathering as another opportunity by the First Lady to display her motherly love and engender peaceful electioneering process ahead of the 2023 general elections
“We are witness to your exemplary conduct, your large heart and endless display of love for mankind. We see you today, we see your love and like a mother, you have left no one behind. Nigerians are proud of you, the women are proud of you”, she said.