Scores of Nigerian women protested Wednesday at the National Assembly against the rejection of several bills seeking gender equality in the country.
They trooped out in hundreds and asked the lawmakers to revisit the gender bills, accusing the lawmakers of choosing to deny women the opportunity of inclusion and representation in governance by voting against the bills.
PREMIUM TIMES reported how the lawmakers on Tuesday voted on the 68 bills that seek to alter the Constitution.
Of the 68 legislations, about five bills sought to promote more opportunities for women in political parties, governance and the society at large.
All five bills were rejected.
One of the bills sought to grant citizenship to foreign-born husbands of a Nigerian woman. Already, a Nigerian man’s foreign-born wife is automatically a Nigerian citizen.
Another bill sought to allocate 35 per cent of political positions based on appointment to women. Another legislation sought to create special seats for women in National and State Assemblies.
The women, led by many civil society groups, carried placards to express their grievances.
They said the National Assembly has clearly said it does not want progress in the country.
The women were addressed by the Minority Leader of the Senate, Eyinnaya Abaribe, who said he supported the bills but was outvoted
He asked the women to seek the voting records to know which lawmakers voted against the bills.
“I will pass your message on to the Senate President and I will urge him to come and respond to you personally.
“I voted for everything for women. I voted for everything that you wanted.
“The record of the voting is a public document. It is your right to ask for it from the Senate President and the Speaker and publish it so that everybody will know,” he said.
A few principal officers, Ajayi Borroffice and Sabi Abdullah, also appeared on behalf of the Senate to address the protesters but they insisted that they would only speak to the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
Plateau senator, Nora Daduut, also attempted to address the women but she was shut down by the protesters.
Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, a lawyer and civil rights activist, told PREMIUM TIMES that the lawmakers are not taking women’s issues seriously.
“Women have questions that we want to ask them. Why is it that in this country, we seem not to be relevant because the attitude we saw yesterday, the issues that were treated, show that we are not taken seriously.
“This is 2022. The country should have grown up by now. We want to find out from them. Issue of citizenship is a major problem for them.”
On her part, Cynthia Mbamalu, Director of Programmes at Yiaga Africa, said the Civil Society groups will demand the voting records of the constitution amendment bills.
Earlier the women, in a statement, said the men of the ninth assembly have reinforced the discrimination and political bias against women as enshrined in the constitution by:
-Denying citizenship to a foreign-born husband of a Nigerian woman. (While it allows Nigerian men’s foreign-born wives to be awarded automatic citizenship);
-Denying Nigerian women indigeneity through marriage;
-Denying 35 per cent appointed positions for women and settling for 20 per cent;
‘Denying women affirmative action in party administration and leadership; and
-Denying specific seats for women in the National Assembly.
They, therefore, demanded that all gender bills be reconsidered as they will benefit not just women but Nigeria as a whole who said he supported the bills but was outvoted….
How National Assembly voted on Constitution Amendment bills
Members of the Senate and the House of Representatives voted on 68 amendments to the 1999 Constitution on Tuesday.
The National Assembly has concluded the voting stage of the Constitutional amendment.
The process which lasted over five hours on Tuesday, saw lawmakers of both chambers consider 68 amendments to the Constitution.
PREMIUM TIMES reported the entire voting process.
Prior to the consideration and voting, the wife of the Vice President, Dolapo Osinbajo, joined the lawmakers at the Senate and later the House of Representatives to witness the proceeding as well as solicit support for the gender and affirmative action bills – which were all eventually rejected.
The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, had explained the voting process to the lawmakers before it began.
Bills that pass in the Senate and fail to pass at the House of Representatives are dead, and vice versa, he told his colleagues.
Below is a compiled list of the amendments and how the lawmakers voted. This reflects the current status of the bills irrespective of how it was voted for in each chamber.
1. Financial autonomy for local governments – Passed.
2. Administrative autonomy for local governments – Passed.
3. Bill to change the name, Afikpo North and Afikpo South Local Government Areas of Ebonyi State – Passed.
4. Bill to change the name of Kunchi Local Government Area of Kano State – Passed.
5. Bill to change the names of Egbado North and Egbado South Local Government Areas of Ogun State – Passed.
6. Bill to change the name Barikin Ladi Local Government Area of Plateau State – Rejected.
7. Bill to correct name Atigbo Local Government Area of Oyo State – Passed.
8. Bill to correct the name of Obia/Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State – Passed.
9. Financial Independence for State Houses of Assembly and State Judiciary – Passed.
10. Bill to compel persons to obey or comply with legislative summons – Passed.
11. Inauguration of members-elect of the National and State Houses of Assembly – Passed.
12. Bill to institutionalise legislative bureaucracy in the Constitution – Passed.
13. Overriding presidential veto – Rejected.
14. Overriding Executive Veto in Respect of Money Bill – Rejected.
15. Procedure of Removing Presiding Officers of the Legislature – Rejected.
16. Life Pension for Presiding Officers of the National Assembly – Rejected.
17. Establishment of Federal Revenue Court and the Revenue Court of a State – Rejected.
18. Bill to Strengthen the Judiciary for timely dispensation of justice – Rejected.
19. Timelines for the determination of civil and criminal cases – Rejected.
20. Retirement age and pension rights of judicial officers of Superior Courts of Records – Passed.
21. Bill to delete the reference to the provisions of the Criminal Code, Penal Code, Criminal Procedure Act, Criminal Procedure Code or Evidence Act – Passed.
22. Bill to exclude the period of intervening events in the computation of time for determining pre-election petitions, election petitions and appeals therefrom – Passed.
23. Virtual/remote court proceedings – Rejected.
24. Bill to expand the Interpretation of Judicial Office to include Courts or Tribunals created by an Act of the National Assembly or a State House of Assembly – Passed.
25. Post call qualification of the secretary of the National Judicial Council – Passed.
26. Bill for an Act to Alter the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to Permit Public Servants to Engage in Healthcare Education, Production and Services beyond Farming; and for Related Matters – Passed
27. Fair hearing in the process of recommendation of removal of judicial officers by the State Judicial Service Commission – Passed.
28. Inclusion of judges of the National Industrial Court in the composition of Election Tribunal – Rejected.
29. Devolution of Power: to move airports from Exclusive Legislative List to the Concurrent Legislative List – Passed.
30. Devolution of Power: to move Fingerprints, Identification and Criminal Records from the Exclusive Legislative List to the Concurrent Legislative List – Passed.
31. Devolution of Power: to delete prisons in the Exclusive Legislative List and re-designate it as Correctional Services in the Concurrent Legislative List – Passed.
32. Devolution of Power: to move Railway from the Exclusive Legislative List to Concurrent Legislative List – Passed.
33. Devolution of Power: to allow states to generate, transmit and distribute electricity in areas covered by the national grid – Passed.
34. Devolution of Power: Value Added Tax on the Exclusive Legislative List – Rejected.
35. Special Seat for Women in the National and State Houses of Assembly – Rejected.
36. Expansion of the Scope of Citizenship by Registration – Rejected.
37. Affirmative Action for Women in Political Party Administration – Rejected.
38. Qualification to become an Indigene of a State in Nigeria – Rejected.
39. Bill to empower RMAFC to enforce compliance with remittance of accruals into and disbursement of revenue from the federation account and streamline the procedure for reviewing the revenue allocation formula – Passed.
40. Bill to enhance the Independence of Certain Bodies – Passed.
41. Removal of transitional lawmaking Powers from the Executive Arms of Government – Passed.
42. Immunity for Legislative and Judicial Arms of Government – Rejected.
43. Domestication of treaties – Passed.
44. Timeline for presentation of Appropriation bill by president and governors – Passed.
45. Timeline for president and governors to submit names of ministerial nominees and commissioners – Passed.
46. Bill to include Presiding Officers of the National Assembly in the membership of the National Security Council – Passed.
47. Establishment of State Security Council – Passed.
48. Legislative powers to summon presidents and governors – Passed.
49. Bill to reduce the period which the president or governor may authorise withdrawal of monies from CRF – Passed.
50. Bill to Replace the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation with the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federal Government – Passed.
51. Bill to establish the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federal Government separate from the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation – Passed
52. Timeframe for the Conduct of Population Census – Passed.
53. Bill to establish the Office of the Attorney–General of the Federation and of the State separate from the Office of the Minister of Justice or Commissioners for Justice of the state in order to make the Offices Attorneys–General Independent and Insulated from Partisanship – Passed.
54. State of the Nation and State of the State Address by the President and Governor – Passed.
55. Bill to include former heads of the National Assembly in the Council of State – Passed.
56. Termination of tenure of elected officials after change of political party – Passed.
57. Bill to enhance existing provisions on the formation of political parties – Passed.
58. Independent candidacy – Passed.
59. Diaspora voting – Rejected.
60. Office of the Mayor for FCT – Rejected.
61. Appointment of an FCT Minister from the FCT – Rejected.
62. Bill to correct the error in the definition of the boundary of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja – Passed.
63. Free, Compulsory and Basic Education – Passed.
64. Bill to further define Acts that Constitute Torture, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment – Rejected.
65. Food security – Passed.
66. Bill to reflect the objectives and functions of NSCDC – Passed.
67. Bill to establish the National and State Councils of Traditional Rulers to advise the President and Governors on Matters Related to Customs, Security and Public Order – Rejected.
68. Reserved Quota for Women – Rejected.
▪︎ Report and photo by Premium Times