The Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege has said the senate is 110 percent in support of 111 additional seats for women in the Senate and House of Representatives and 108 additional seats for women in all state assemblies across Nigeria.
Omo-agege, represented by his Special Assistant on Legal and Constitution, Daniel Bwala said this during a town hall on the proposed “Reserved Seat Bill” legislation to create additional special seats for Women in the National Assembly and State Houses of Assembly on Friday in Abuja.
As part of the ongoing Constitutional amendment, by the 9th Assembly, there has been an introduction of the “Reserved Seat Bill” (“the Bill”) which is “A Bill for An Act to alter the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) to create additional special seats for Women in the National Assembly and State Houses of Assembly”.
The townhall organized by ElectHER in partnership with Yiaga Africa and Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC) is to raise public awareness about the bill and its potential to directly lead to an increase in women’s political representation.
Speaking during the townhall hosted on Channels Television, Bwala said the deputy senate President is excited about the bill as he had initially pushed for similar bills that protects the rights of women.
He said, “The role women play in the nation are roles you cannot deny and their influence is immeasurable. The most powerful countries in the world advocate inclusion.”
He, however, said that there is need to escalate the conversation on women inclusion in politics through community organizing.
Bwala said, “You can leverage on constituency where the men come from to influence their decision”.
He also recommended that the law be amended to mandate political parties to adhere to the provision of the bill that reserves additional seat for women in the parliament.
Speaking at the event, sponsor of the “Reserved Seat Bill” Hon Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, expressed optimism saying at least over 120 male lawmakers are behind the bill including the Speaker of the House, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila, who is co-sponsoring the bill on women inclusion.
She said the bill was proposed due to experience women have gone through in recent years.
She said, “Before we brought the bill to the floor of the house, we met with Attorney General and made a lot of consultation in a bid to remove all possible gender barrier to women participation.”
Also speaking during the town hall, Chair House Committee on Electoral Matters, Hon. Aisha Dukku, lamented the age-long marginalization of women in politics.
She said that 0beyond the cultural barrier women face, there is deliberate manipulation of the system by men to restrict women participation in politics to just voting and campaign materials.
Equally, a former house of representative member, Hon. Nnenna Ukeje, said that Abia State is the only state without a female house of assembly member.
“We have to work twice as hard to be thought as half as good,” she said.
She said the age-long stereotypes has also hindered women and women face the same hurdles across the country.
She however remains optimistic that, most of the women currently in the national Assembly have demonstrated competence and have earned respect of the men. Thus, the bill according to her is absolutely important in a bid to give women their voices.