By Taiye Agbaje
Some women groups, under the auspices of 100 Women Lobby, have called on the National Assembly to support the bill seeking to create additional seats exclusively for women at the legislative houses.
The National Coordinator of the group, Felicia Onibon, made the call at a rally organised to raise awareness of the lawmakers on the need to back the proposed law.
Onibon, who is also the president, Change Managers, noted that the low number of women in the assembly was a factor for the lack of support or push for bills that would have promoted affirmative action and equal opportunities for women.
According to her, in a space where voting numbers matter, the numerical presence of women is key.
She said it was disheartening that women occupied only 21 out of 469 seats in the National Assembly.
“The situation is worse at the state level with the national percentage of state seats being 4.5 per cent with women occupying 45 of the 990 seats in all state Houses of Assemblies,” she said.
OnIbon, who said Nigeria women had paid their dues in all sectors and human endeavors including politics, said they had also shown integrity and capacity in governance.
“Despite their contributions, Nigeria Women are still excluded in mainstream politics and governance.
“But today, we are asking the ‘Additional Seats Bill’ and all other gender-sensitive bills that are receiving attention at the National Assembly to get the support of all members so that Nigeria can move forward in all aspects of life.
“We will like to take this opportunity to appreciate all our male leaders who have been acting and speaking in favour of the bill.
“We, especially, thank President Mohammadu Buhari, all the He for She Governors, Ministers, and members of NASS who have continuously supported the course of women and children [girls and boys].
“We also appreciate our religious and traditional leaders who in their magnanimity have supported us in this struggle,” she said.
Speaking, the Chairman, House Committee on Electoral Matters, Rep Aisha Dukku, assured that the bill had gotten the support of many members.
‘Now, it is time of the Senate to show us the support,” she said.
The lawmaker said Nigeria, as a country, cannot be left behind as everywhere in the world, the percentage for women is not only given but ascertained.
“So we hope that the leadership and members of the joint committees will see reason and pass the necessary bills such as the 35 per cent in the appointive positions and the Special Seats Bill, etc,” Dukku said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that members of the groups also carried placards with various inscriptions to press home their demands.
NAN reports that the bill, which seeks to create additional 111 seats exclusively for women in the National Assembly had passed second reading and at the committee stage.
The proposed law, titled: “A bill for an Act to Alter the Provision of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to create Additional Special Seats for Women in the Federal and States Legislative Houses,” is sponsored by the Deputy Chief Whip Nkiruka Onyejiocha.(NAN) (www.nannews.ng)