Billy Abel, Yola

In Nigeria today, rarely do women occupy the front seats of the political train. Rather, they are reserved to the very sidelines, where they serve as onlookers or cheerleaders.

It is in view of this misfortune that the International Press Center, IPC, a center traditionally reputed for the training journalists, decided to organize a workshop for female politicians in the North Eastern Zone.

The aim of the workshop is to arm female politicians with the requisite strategies and methodologies for accessing the media and its attendant visibility ahead of the 2019 elections. The hope is that the more media presence they enjoy, the higher is their chances of victory.

As expected, The three day training, which took place in Yola attracted about 25 female politicians from Borno, Adamawa, Yobe, Gombe and Bauchi States respectively.

In his opening remarks, the Director of IPC, Mr. Lanre Arogundade explained that the training is supported by the European Union Support for Democratic Governance in Nigeria (EU-SDGN) and it is an ongoing training organized for female politicians in the six geo-political zones of the country with the aiming of curbing the negative trend of poor media visibility for female politicians and women in the country.

Lanre, who was represented by the Program Manager of IPC, Stella Nwofia said, “Findings from our organizations monitoring of media coverage of elections in 2015 showed that media reporting was skewed in favor of male politicians and candidates”.

“This remains an unwelcome development more so as various electoral regulatory frameworks especially the Nigerian Media Code of Election Coverage states that candidates vying for political offices, irrespective of political parties’ should be given equitable coverage.”

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He explained that the media code for Electoral coverage stipulates rights for female candidates to be given access and the training would equip the politicians with the technical know-how to navigate the landmines of engaging the media for better and improved visibility.

He explained that the training will equip them with the techniques and skills for improving the already negative visibility index in the media.

IPC’s Program Manager, Stella Nwofia explained that, “Over the years lPC has been training journalists across all the ego-political zones of the country in respect to attaining professionalism in media practice but this time around with the help of the European Union, (EU), we have decided to package a training specifically for female politicians towards equipping them with the skills for gaining maximum visibility in the media in order to attain their political ambitions.

“One of the goals of the training is to significantly help increase the visibility of female politicians in the media in the 2019 elections” she added.

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“Over the years fewer female politicians have been represented in the media and we intend to give them the confidence and self belief to take advantage of the media to further their cause.

“We want women in Nigeria to gain access and visibility in all types of media, broadcast, print and the digital media,” she added

One of the participants at the training, Naomi Lasara, a House of Assembly candidate from Gombe State, acknowledged that the training has been very helpful .

“I have been in the media but honestly speaking, I have not taken advantage of the media as I should and this training is an eye opener for me and I intend to take my campaign to a new level.”

Another participant, Comfort Attah running for the state house of Assembly in Bauchi, said, “IPC has opened my eyes on how to best take advantage of the media.

“Before coming for this workshop, I was at a loss as to what I would learn here, but now I have been given the tools, skills and weapons to fight for my right and achieve my dreams.

“I have already contacted my Campaign team and directed them to reorganise my campaign structure to include the media at all levels of our progression.

“I was not the media type, I don’t listen to radio but that is a habit I have made up my mind to change and am grateful to IPC for the training.”

Another House of Assembly aspirant from Adamawa State, Magdalene Dantata noted that,”Now I know that through the media I can have a good feel of what my constituents want and work towards achieving them.

“I know how to properly package my goals, ideas and myself as a politician. .

“I used to be scared of the media but now I have learnt how to relate with them and achieve my goals.

“I can effectively use some social media platforms like the Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, among other social media platforms not only to chat but to further my polical agenda.”