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Governors’ Wives Storm NASS, Protest Rejection of Pro-Women Bills

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The Nigeria Governors’ Wives’ Forum, on Tuesday, stormed the National Assembly complex to protest against the rejection of women-related bills at the plenary session.

According to reports, the lawmakers, on March 1 during the constitution amendment session, voted against a bill seeking to provide special legislative seats for women.

They also rejected bills to provide 35 per cent of political party leadership for women and “reserve quota” for women on appointments.

Also rejected was a provision to give a woman the right to become indigenes of their husband’s state after five years of marriage.

The governors’ wives’ forum, led by its chairperson and wife of Ekiti State Governor, Bisi Fayemi, joined hundreds of women who had been converging on the parliament complex since last week to the lawmakers’ decision.

Mrs Fayemi was accompanied by her counterparts from Edo and Akwa Ibom states, Betsy Obaseki and Martha Udom respectively.

They were also joined by some female lawmakers: Senators Betty Apiafi (PDP, Rivers), Akon Eyakenyi (PDP, Akwa Ibom) and Olubunmi Adetumbi (APC, Ekiti).

Addressing the gathering, Mrs Fayemi said by rejecting the gender bills, the National Assembly had rejected the progress of Nigerian women.

The governors’ wives, she said, demanded that the lawmakers rescind their decision on the bills.

“This country belongs to all of us. 50 per cent of the country’s population is women. No women, no nation.

“We therefore demand that our rights be recognized; our rights as full citizen, to take leadership positions, not to die in childbirth, not to live in poverty, not to suffer from gender-based violence.

“We want our leaders in this building whom we campaigned and voted for, to recognise that Nigerian women’s lives matter. Anything less than that is totally unacceptable,” Mrs Fayemi said.

Senator Betty Apiafi, who spoke on behalf of her colleagues, appealed to the protesters to nominate a delegation to engage the lawmakers.

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives yesterday promised to reconsider three bills rejected during its consideration of 68 bills on constitution review last week.

The bills to be reconsidered are seeking expansion of the scope of citizenship by registration; affirmative action for women in political party administration and qualification to become an indigene of a state in Nigeria.

The bill seeking additional 111 seats for women in federal and state parliaments was not brought back for reconsideration.

Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila said the House decided to reconsider the bills for voting and passage in order to give women the needed encouragement to participate in the affairs of the nation.

Gbajabiamila said, “The House in its wisdom, has decided to take a course of action for the good of the country. That action is to rescind three of the decisions that were taken on the day of voting on constitutional amendment.

“We’ll take these three bills again, if we still at that point have a difference with the Senate, we’ll go for harmonization. Harmonization might not be the best tactics when it comes to constitution matters.

“Because I’ve heard this thing argued here and there, but the constitution allows the House to regulate its own procedure. We’ll be relying on the provision of the constitution to harmonize the differences between us and the Senate.”

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