You Failed Nigerian Women, Rights Activists Tell NASS

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According to Nigerian women’s rights advocates, the outgoing 9th National Assembly (NASS) has failed Nigerian women because it was unable to pass five gender bills into law during its time in office. These bills would have protected women’s rights.

Recall that the 9th National Assembly of the Samoa Federation (NAS) voted against five gender-related bills, including Bill No. 35: Special Seats for Women, Bill No. 36: Expansion of the Scope of Citizenship by Registration, Bill No. 37: Affirmative action for Women in Political Party Administration, Bill No. 38: Indigeneship Rights, and Bill No. 68 (formerly Bill No. 45): Affirmative Action in Ministerial and Commissioner Appointments.

 

Yesterday in Lagos, at a knowledge building round table with media chiefs, which was organized by Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre (WARDC), with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and Palladium, the gender advocates who spoke at the event asserted that Nigeria cannot have a sustainable democracy without the inclusion of women in political positions.

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In this regard, both the Senate and the House of Representatives worked to deliver on the constitutional amendments with the services of experts as consultants to provide technical assistance on the process of constitutional review. The national consultant to UN Women, Professor Joy Ezeilo, stated that gender equality was one of the 13th identified priority issues for constitutional review by the 9th NASS legislative agenda. In addition, she stated that gender equality was one of the 13th identified priority issues for constitutional review by the 9th NASS legislative agenda.

Ezeilo disclosed that the five Gender Bills were among the 68 bills that were adopted for constitution review. He added that the bills were intended to give women the opportunity of inclusion and representation in governance, and that they were a part of the group of 68 bills that were adopted for constitution review.

When asked about how the bills were voted on, the consultant revealed the following information: “On the expansion of the scope of citizenship by registration, 83 out of 109 members of House of Senate voted for the bill to be passed into law, while in the House of Representatives, 135 said ‘YES’ and 143 said ‘NO’ to the bill.” This information was disclosed in reference to the voting pattern for the bills. The bill was opposed by 53 members of the House of Representatives and supported by 34 members of the Senate. Affirmative action for women in political party administration was a contentious issue. The bill received a vote of ‘YES’ from 107 representatives in the House of Representatives and a vote of ‘NO’ from 195 representatives.
“In the House of Senate, 90 members voted ‘YES’ when asked about indigenous peoples’ rights. In the meantime, there were only 98 people in the House of Representatives who voted in favor of the bill, while 198 people voted against it being passed.

What a terrible thing, Ezeilo bemoaned the situation and added that the bills were attempts to rectify the imbalance that existed in the political space. She did, however, make a plea to the newly elected members of the tenth NASS to ensure that the five bills are signed into law as soon as they take office.

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In a similar vein, the executive director of WARDC, Dr. Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, disclosed that thirteen African countries have mandated reserved seats for female federal legislators. For example, South Africa reserved 46% of their land, while Senegal reserved 41% and Ethiopia reserved 38%, Akiyode-Afolabi said, while calling on the incoming 10th NASS to ensure that the five bills are passed into law.

Toun Okewale Sonaiya, CEO of Women Radio 91.7, delivered the opening remarks during which she criticized the 9th National Assembly for failing to pass the five gender bills into law. She went on to say that the 9th National Assembly had caused the greatest damage to the women’s agenda in Nigeria.

 

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