The first lady, Aisha Buhari, has urged political parties to always consider women as running mates to candidates contesting elections for various positions across the country.
Mrs Buhari was speaking on Saturday night when she hosted Presidential Aspirants from various political parties for a Ramadan (Iftar) breakfast at the State House, Abuja.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Iftar was organised by the first lady to provide an opportunity for the aspirants to share love and happiness with one another in the spirit of Ramadan and in a quest for nation-building.
She said fair play for women in politics was to ensure their greater participation in elective positions.
“In fact, it is high time women are adopted as running mates at all levels considering their voting strength and active involvement in political processes.
“As we approach the 2023 election 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.
The first lady enjoined the presidential hopefuls to remain focused on issues that strengthened the nation`s unity, brotherhood and national cohesion.
Mrs Buhari, however, reminded her guests that, the 2015 election was a watershed in the history of Nigeria.
“It 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 appealed.
She urged all the aspirants to ensure tolerance, fair play and avoid violent tendencies by building bridges where necessary, especially during electioneering campaigns.
On his part, the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, represented by a former governor of Edo, Oserheimen Osunbor, urged all aspirants to play politics without bitterness.
Mr Osinbajo said the event offered Nigerians from different faiths and background the opportunity to reunite with one another to foster unity.
“It is an opportunity for aspirants from various political parties to meet one another and the lesson we should learn from here is to practise politics without bitterness as we move closer to election year.
“We should try to imbibe the spirit of oneness because at the end of the only one person is going to emerge winner of the Presidential election next year.
“ So, it is not going to be do-or-die affairs, we should learn to practise politics without bitterness,” he said.
One of the APC aspirants and former governor of Lagos State, Bola Tinubu, expressed gratitude to the first lady for bringing the diverse groups of Nigerians to share love and unity.
Mr Tinubu, however, prayed for the brotherliness, peace, unity and prosperity of Nigeria.
On his part, Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi, an APC aspirant, expressed appreciation to the first lady for bringing the presidential aspirants together to foster unity and nation cohesion.
“I must also thank you because this should be about our nation, about our patriotism, we should always place our nation above our individual interests.
“ As we have aspired to lead this nation, I think what Nigerians should be able to evaluate, is not going to be promises, it’s going to be ticking the box.
“ The opportunity given to us as leaders, what did we do with it. So, this kind of gathering is highly encouraged because it is going to douse a lot of tensions,’’ he said.
Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State, a PDP presidential aspirant, said the gathering was historic going by the calibre of people in attendance.
Mr Mohammed promised to play the game with humility and mutual respect.
“I promise to do the politicking with the interest of Nigeria in my mind, respect for one another irrespective of our party differences,” he said.