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Women Bills: ‘Lobbying by women came in late’ – Reps Spokesman

OrderPaperToday – Late lobbying by women and stakeholders has been attributed as a likely reason for the failure of four Women Bills to scale through the clause-by-clause voting on the 5th Constitution Alteration Act.

Spokesman of the House of Representatives, Benjamin Kalu, who doubles as Chairman of the House Committee on Media and Public Affairs disclosed this to newsmen in Abuja, at a media briefing.

According to him, in view of the socio-cultural and religious sensitivity to the issues; effective lobbying, sensitisation, and consultations by the female gender and stakeholders across the country would have been intensified earlier to attract maximum support.

READ ALSO: Reps, Senators vote against special seats for women in NASS, State Assemblies

“The advocacy would have started longer than now. You don’t lobby two days to on an important issue like this. It goes beyond lobbying at the last minute.

It takes a lot of reorientation, advocacy and sensitisation to enable people buy into this all-important agenda because you can not play down on our current issues with regards to emerging democracy. One of which is our religious and cultural dispositions.

These things play a role. We’re part of society. Our culture and religion are part of society. It needs a lot of advocacy by the civil society organisations, women groups to push this agenda forward.” he argued.

READ ALSO: Gender Bills: ‘Women of Nigeria’ release statement on failed amendments

Continuing, he added,It’s a wonderful agenda, but for people to buy into it even from the constituents, not their representatives because Nigerians are shifting their focus to the Representatives and their Senators only.

It was not the Representatives and the Senators that did the job. It was the instruction from their various constituencies. This is the truth that must be told. 

And if the House as an institution was not interested in this agenda, it wouldn’t have passed the first reading, second reading and be allowed to go to the Committee level and be one of the issues mentioned on the day of public hearing.

(This) means that the institution has given it all the will to succeed but the joy of canvassing for the support to change our long standing dispositions culturally and religiously which we can not wave away. It takes time. It has started well. We’ll keep pushing.”

READ ALSO: Women Protest Groups defy appeal, demand reconsideration of gender bills

While encouraging the women not to give up in their struggle, he assured them that there is always time to review the constitution again, as no law is cast in stone.

“Let us do a fair comparative analysis. Most of these nations we are using to compare with Nigeria started somewhere. Now that this agenda has been stimulated in the minds of Nigerians let’s not stop there,” he said. 

The Abia lawmaker commended the wives of the President and vice president, as well as the Women Affairs Minister for supporting their gender in the struggle, but urged the women and Civil Society Organisations not to give up and leverage what they have achieved in pushing for the bills so far.

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