Lawmakers Reject Pro-women Bills

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The gender bills failed to pass despite the fact that Aisha Buhari, the President’s wife had on Wednesday last week, stormed the Senate and House chambers in company with female ministers to lobby the lawmakers as the committee laid its report.

Also on Tuesday, Dolapo Osinbajo, wife to the Vice-President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, accompanied by the Minister of Women Affairs, Pauline Tallen, observed as members of the House voted on the recommendations by the committee, and watched as the lawmakers voted against the gender bills.

The rejected proposals either failed to get the required two-third or four-fifth votes in the 360-member House or they were voted against by a majority of the lawmakers in both chambers.

In the Senate, a bill seeking special seats for women at the National Assembly and state Houses of Assembly failed to scale through. While 91 senators registered to vote on the bill, 30 voted for it, 58 against it and three abstained.

Similarly, the senators voted against a bill seeking affirmative action for women in political party administration. 91 registered, 90 voted out of the figure 34 voted yes, 53 no and three abstained. The bill which was meant to guarantee inclusivity of women in governance failed as it could not garner at 73 votes needed for it to be passed.

All the bills relating to women failed to pass but for the Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, who vetoed Bill 68 which proposed a 35 per cent quota for women in the presidential and state cabinets.

When the House voted on the proposal electronically, 226 members voted for it, 70 voted against it while four others abstained.

Gbajabiamila, however, pleaded with the lawmakers to allow the last remaining gender related bill to pass.

The Majority Leader, Ado Doguwa, however, moved for an amendment of the clause to reduce the percentage to 20, while Babajimi Benson seconded the motion.

Instead of electronic voting on the amendment, the Speaker called for voice vote. While the nays were louder than the ‘ayes’, Gbajabiamila ruled that the ayes had it.

Other rejected proposals include Bill 13 which sought to “provide for the procedure for passing a Constitution alteration bill where the President withhold assent.” While the amendment required four-fifth or 288 votes, it failed to pass when put to vote twice.

Another is Bill 15 which sought to “provide for the procedure of removing presiding officers of the legislature.”

Also failing to meet the required votes was Bill 35 to “provide for special seat for women in the National and state Houses of Assembly;” Bill 36 to “expand the scope of citizenship by registration;” Bill 37 to “provide for affirmative action for women in political party administration;” and Bill 38 to “provide criteria for qualification to become an indigene of a state in Nigeria.”

Bill 42 which sought to “expand immunity to the legislative and judicial arms of government” also failed to garner the required number of votes.

For independent candidacy in presidential, governorship, National Assembly, state Houses of Assembly and local government area council elections, as proposed by Bill 58, 269 lawmakers gave their votes; 28 voted against the proposal, while three others abstained.

However, Bill 59 which proposed Diaspora voting failed to pass, with 58 members voting for it and 240 others voting against it.

Another proposal that required four-fifth votes was contained in Bill 64, which sought to “further define acts that constitute torture, inhuman or degrading treatment.” It, however, failed to get up to 288 votes.

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