Women give Nigerian lawmakers seven-day ultimatum to pass gender bills

Women groups termed #nigerianWomenOccupyNass under the auspices of WOMANIFESTO across national and sub-national level on Wednesday issued a seven day ultimatum to the Nigerian lawmakers to recommit and pass the five gender constitution bills.

Penpushing reports that, the women made the declaration at a World Press Conference  held in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory(FCT)following the suspension of the daily protests at the gates of the National Assembly.

The top leader of the groups, Dr Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi addressing the press conference on behalf of the women groups declared that the bodies are determined to hold the Nigerian lawmakers accountable to their promises

“We are determined to hold them accountable to their promises to ensure that within seven legislative days, the gender bills are recommitted and positively voted for the inclusive growth and development of Nigeria,” Abiodun Akiyode-Afolabi said.

‘Should the federal lawmakers fail to act on the bills, the women groups promised to return to the gates and  we are going to occupy in a bigger way because they are giving us more time to plan from state to state. It is not a matter of threat but affirming our presence in the country”, she added.

“As our representatives, we demand to know your voting pattern on sensitive matters of citizen rights and all the bills be passed by March 31st 2022 to gloriously end the women’s month’, she  said.

Penpushing further reports that, it is recalled that, the National Assembly had earlier in March, at a constitution review exercise voted against the five amendment bills termed ‘gender bills’ proposed to address certain issues affecting women through the constitution.

This development aggravated annoyance of the women and Gender groups with protests as they occupied the gates of the national assembly for 10 legislative days demanding reconsideration of the bills.

Penpushing also reports that, the Senate President sent a delegation to address the women, no action was taken, while thereafter the House of Representatives on the other handrescinded  its rejection on three gender bills.

The women continued the daily protest until Tuesday, March 22, they gained entrance into the national assembly which forced a delegation from the green chamber led by the House Majority Leader, Alhassan Ado Doguwa to meet the protesters.

Penpushing reports that, the Majority leader pleaded with the protesters to give them (lawmakers) to work on the bills prompting a suspension of the protest, a development which led to a world press conference by the women.

The details of the bills have it such that, the bill is on citizenship as it seeks to amend section 26 of the 1999 Constitution to grant citizenship to foreign husbands of Nigerian women as is currently guaranteed in section 26(2)(a) for foreign wives of Nigerian men.

Penpushing further  reports that, similarly another bill addresses section 31 and 318(1) of the 1999 constitution to allow women to claim their husbands’ state of origin after at least five years of marriage.

The third bill, on affirmative action, is to specifically amend section 223 of the Nigerian constitution to ensure women occupy at least 35% in political party administration and appointive positions.

Penpushing also reports that, there is the bill on Ministerial or Commissioner Nomination to amend Sections 147 and 192 of the constitution so that at least 35% of the nominees are women.

The fifth gender bill seeks to create ‘reserved seats’ by amending sections 48, 49 and 91 to create additional 37, 74, and 108 seats for women at the Senate, House of Representatives, and the State Assemblies respectively.

Penpushing further  reports that, the demands of the women include the urgent re-convening, reconsideration, and immediate passage of the all women/gender-related bills by the National Assembly and the passage of the Gender and Equal Opportunities (GEOB) Bill, currently before the Senate.

They equally asked for resuscitation and passage of the Bill on support for Women Participation in Elective and Appointive positions, the immediate domestication of the African Charters Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa, which Nigeria ratified in 2004 and the United Nations Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), ratified by Nigeria since 1985.

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