The forum of 37 State Women Leaders of the All Progressives Congress and the Federal Capital Territory on Tuesday decried their exclusion from the dividend of party politics, saying they only benefited one bag of rice and a paper wrapper each after the 2023 general election.

The aggrieved leaders tabled their complaints before the National Chairman of the APC, Dr Abdullahi Ganduje, during a solidarity visit to the party secretariat in Abuja.

Addressing the audience, the President of the forum, Mrs Patricia Yakubu, bemoaned that despite working hard for the electoral victory of President Bola Tinubu, they find it appalling that none of their people was found worthy to be compensated with appointment or post-election reward from the presidency.

Yakubu, however, stated that regardless of their frustration, they were impressed with the Ganduje-led National Working Committee hence their passing a vote of confidence on the national chairman.

She said, “We, the forum of 36 States women Leaders and the FCT have come to pay you a solidarity visit and unanimously say, we believe in you as the National Chairman of our great party. We unequivocally pass a vote of confidence on you and reiterate the fact that the 36 States women Leaders are solidly behind you and the National Working Committee of our great party.

“But the state women leaders will want to advocate that we should be carried along in all the affairs about women in the states. We are closer to the party women at the grassroots, the largest voting bloc in the secular world. Our demography should not be neglected. Since after the elections, Your Excellency may note that only one bag of rice and one paper wrapper was given to the state women leaders from the national secretariat of the party.

“Nothing was given to us during Easter, the Ramadan fasting period, and Salah festivities. Even the palliatives distributed were not given to the women leaders for onward distribution to the grassroots, We party women waited and waited and waited to no avail very sad. Your Excellency respectfully, we wish to notify you that the Women Leaders sacrificed so much towards the victory of our great party during the 2023 elections.”

Continuing, the forum appealed to the president and the leadership to consider all they sacrificed to ensure the party’s victory, saying they deserve to partake in the federal appointments.

The women leaders also accused the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development headed by Dr Uju Kennedy-Ohanenye of sharing cash palliatives of N50,000 without extending it to any of their members.

While stressing that they were not beggars, the women argued that they have retired Assistant Inspector General of Police, carrier diplomats, former federal and state lawmakers, ex-commissioners, former Local Government Chairmen, entrepreneurs, associate professors, and teachers among them.

“Our women went through a lot at the last election. We took a great risk sleeping on the grass in open spaces at the Women Development Center in Abuja and almost every state during the electioneering period to ensure victory. The house of one of us was demolished on election day by the opposition party in her state to distract her from canvassing votes for the party.

“The son of a member was kidnapped a day before the presidential election. Another woman was detained at the police station for three days from the election day. One of us was involved in a ghastly motor accident during the campaign in her community and she is still in and out of the hospital. Your Excellency, the women have not been compensated for all their pains and sacrifices, we are feeling neglected.

“We will also want to respectfully draw the attention of His Excellency, our Father, the advocate of women’s empowerment to the fact that most of the Federal Government programmes that have to do with women sound like news to us. We want to plead with you to use your good office to discuss with the ministers and heads of agencies to involve our women in their programmes, especially in states where we don’t have APC governors,” Yakubu said.

Reacting, Ganduje appealed for calm, saying the complaints of the women leaders had been noted and would be addressed promptly.

The APC national chairman also assured that the president won’t shut the door of appointments against the party faithful.

He said, “I want to acknowledge your contribution during the election period that culminated in the huge success of our great party. Of course, you are aware that our President, Bola Tinubu, is gender sensitive if you observe the political trends. So Mr President is very aware of your participation. I can assure you more appointments are still coming from the federal government.

“We have been in talks with our state APC governors to ensure your full participation in governance is given priority. Let me use this opportunity to congratulate the Gombe government. I am happy two women won the local government chairmanship.