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Bill for more seats for women in National, State Assemblies scales second reading



A bill for an Act to alter the provision of the 1999 Constitution to create additional special seats for women in the National and State Houses of Assembly has scaled second reading.

Rep Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, who sponsored the bill in her argument on the floor of the House on Wednesday in Abuja said it was meant to remedy the low representation of women in Legislative Houses.

She added that the seats would be contested and filled by only women in the National Assembly and State Houses of Assembly as a temporary measure to promote women’s representation.

She however said that the provision would be subjected to a review after four general election cycles of 16 years for the purpose of either retaining, increasing, or abolishing the temporary measure.

The bill according to her comprised of six major clauses that sought to alter Sections 48, 49, 71, 77, 91 and 117.

The lawmaker said that currently, women had 4.4 per cent representation in the 9th National Assembly, adding that Nigeria had been identified as the worst performer in women representation in parliaments.

Onyejeocha added that in West African region, Nigeria remained one of the lowest in the whole of Africa in women representation.

“This is evidenced in the most recent Inter-parliamentary Union ranking of women in parliaments where Nigeria ranks 179 out of 187 Countries Worldwide.

“Eritrea is the only African Country ranked lower than Nigeria and this is because there have not been national elections since its independence in 1993,” she said.

She stated that the situation is worse at the States Houses of Assembly level, where a good number of our States do not have a single woman in their State Assembly.

According to her, in some of these states, men chair the Women Affairs Committee because there is no woman available to take the role.

“Women’s inclusion in politics is not just a women or human rights issue, but also an issue of reflecting our history and traditions in our governance process.

“I truly believe that this bill has potential for improving women’s political representation,” she said.

Femi Ogunshola

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