By Kemi Yesufu
The House of Representatives on Wednesday passed a bill to create additional seats for women in the National Assembly and States Houses of Assembly for second reading.
Sponsor of the Bill, Rep. Nkiru Onyejeocha in her lead debate explained that bill seeks to alter the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 to remedy the low representation of women in Legislative Houses by providing for the creation of additional separate seats to 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 told the House that the provision is subjected to a review after four general election cycles of sixteen years for the purpose of either retaining, increasing, or abolishing the temporary measure.
The Bill is comprised of six major clauses that seeks to alter Sections 48; 49; 71; 77; 91; and 117.
A look at the bill shows that among other amendments, it seeks the alteration of Section 48.
Section 48 of the Principal Act is altered by substituting the existing section 48 with a new section “48” – “48. Composition of the Senate
(1) The Senate shall consist of:
(a) three Senators from each State and one from the Federal Capital Territory; and
(b) an additional Senator for each State and for the Federal Capital Territory, who shall be a woman.
(2) Notwithstanding the provision of subsection (1) of this section, nothing shall prevent a woman from contesting for any of the senatorial seats referred to in subsection (1) (a).
(3) The provisions of subsection (1) (b) shall commence after the current life of the National Assembly and shall be reviewed after 16 years from its commencement notwithstanding any other provision of this Constitution.”
The bill which was passed with a voice vote was sent to the relevant committee for further legislative action.