2023: Excitement heightens over Bill to create additional NASS seats for women

“I think Buhari is our friend and I don’t expect that he would withhold consent unnecessarily because it is for the interest of women and for us to have good representation of women.

“If the Bill is eventually passed he should not withhold his assent. This is a legislation and we know that sometimes it’s difficult for them because they don’t have any legislation backing up what you want to do and because of the patriarchy in the system it makes them forget the female gender but when you now have a legislation that backs it up it becomes much easier.

“We appeal to President Mohammadu Buhari to please not withhold assent to the Bill when it eventually gets to him because it will help him solve the issue surrounding the representation of women in governance.

“Though, the denigration of women to the background is not peculiar to Nigeria or Africa alone, countries round the world are gradually giving women chances at leadership and this Bill is one way of getting more women in governance,” she emphasised.

The Minister noted that the 1999 Constitution is one major restriction to how far women can grow as it was drafted without adequate consideration of women.

She further noted that the constitution prohibits discrimination based on sex, which has been a bane to the growth of women, stating the additional seats will go a long way in increasing women’s participation in government.

Way forward

To avoid constraints other Bills affecting women such as the Gender and Equal Opportunity (GEO Bill) that has been at the National Assembly for many years but yet to be passed into law, FIDA has urged all female groups to support in order to ensure the Bill is finally passed into law.

“I’m sure there would be public hearing on that bill and women groups should be there to make presentations before the Bill scale through and of course we should know that whether the Bill scales through or not does not depend on you and I.

“It depends on the people at the House of Representatives who will pass the Bill and you know a lot of this depends on lobbying.

“Nkeiru Onyejiocha sponsored that Bill and she knows that she still has a lot of lobbying to do and when it’s time for public hearing women groups should turn out to make presentations on why this Bill should be allowed to be passed.

Tallen has stressed the need to begin to sustain the advocacy to for short to medium term strategies that would ensure that the Bill scale through, and eventually gets assented to by the President.

“We believe that the time is ripe for more women to be represented at the National Assembly because women constitute over 50 per cent of the Nigeria population and as such should constitutionally be guaranteed equality and access.

“We also continue to advocate for a reform of the Constitution that should make it clear that each party must adopt the quota system and the issue of reserving seats for women. The 35 per cent quota should be used for candidate selection as well.

“No doubt, more Nigerian women are currently engaged in the country’s political processes at different levels, including as party agents, voters and contestants for political offices. But this is not enough, we need legislative backing,” she added.

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