OrderPaperToday – The hope of Nigerian women boosting their representation in parliament through the provision of special seats was on Tuesday, dashed at the ongoing Review of the 1999 Constitution by the National Assembly.
The proposed amendment titled ‘A Bill For an Act to alter the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to provide for special seats for women in the National and State Houses of Assembly; and for related matters’ received underwhelming support from the lawmakers.
Report from OrderPaper‘s correspondents at the National Assembly revealed that a total of 208 Rep. members voted in favour of the bill, while 81 others voted against the proposal.
The bill suffered a similar fate at the Senate where it received an underwhelming 30 votes in its favour as against 58 Senators who opposed its passage. Three of the lawmakers abstained from voting on the clause.
With the development, the bill; failed to scale through following its inability to meet the number of votes required to scale through to the next stage of consideration by the State Houses of Assembly.
If the bill had scaled through, composition of the Senate would have been altered from the next general election to comprise an additional seat in each State and the Federal Capital Territory for “a woman.”
“For the purpose of section 48 of this Constitution, a State shall constitute an additional senatorial seat to be occupied by a woman.
This would be in addition to the three Senators from each State and one from the Federal Capital Territory as currently permitted by the Constitution.
The women-only bill also provided that the House of Representatives consist of three hundred and sixty members representing constituencies of nearly equal population as far as possible, provided that no constituency shall fall within more than one State; and “two additional members for each State and for the Federal Capital Territory, who shall be women.”
“For the purpose of section 49 of this Constitution, the Independent National Electoral Commission shall divide each State of the Federation into two Federal constituencies to be occupied by women.
The bill further proposed that “a House of Assembly of a State shall consist of three or four times the number of seats, which that State has in the House of Representatives divided in a way to reflect, as far as possible, nearly equal population; and one additional member from each of the three senatorial districts in the State referred to in section 48 (1) (a) of this Constitution, who shall be a woman.
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The wife of the Vice President, Dolapo Osinbajo, had earlier been admitted into the House to observe the voting and show physical support for the women-related bills.
This is happening barely a week after the First Lady, Aisha Buhari, visited the National Assembly and attended the respective plenary of both Houses for the same reason.
Members of both chambers are currently casting their votes in a clause-by-clause consideration of the Joint Committee on Constitution Review Report at the commencement of plenary.