Constitution Review: Women Coalition Advocates Gender Equality, Equity

By Victor Habila, Kaduna

Coalition of women leaders in Kaduna state has called for equal representation of women at both Federal and state levels.

The coalition expressed dismay over the 1999 constitution, saying it has not improved the level of inclusion of women at all levels as the proportion of women in both elective and appointive positions has remained low.

The group made the declaration in their position paper to the North West zonal public hearing of the 1999 constitution review ongoing in Kaduna, presented by Jemilat Abidoye, a member of the coalition, during a Press Briefing in Kaduna which was in collaboration with United Nations (UN).

Abidoye said women should enjoy the same status as men, so that they can fully realize their human rights and have a meaningful impact on the society, adding that the Constitution does not adequately afford women the opportunity.

In her words; “It is no longer news that not much has been achieved to improve women’s participation and gender equality in leadership and decision-making positions despite a formal support for it through the National Gender Policy (2006) which recommends a benchmark of 35 percent in all sectors.
“We the People,” represent all Nigerians and recognizing that gender equality is a human right, as emphasized in the global Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) No. 5”.

“Women need to be fully represented in the Constitution, first by recognizing the use of gender-neutral and sensitive language in our Constitution. Masculine languages are gender-biased and undermine women and girls’ political participation, which further hinders inclusive governance in Nigeria. A Nigerian Constitution should correct these male-dominant narratives in legal drafting”.

The women, however, recommended that the ongoing constitutional review should ensure gender-neutral and sensitive language in our Constitution.

According to Abidoye, masculine languages are gender-biased and undermine women and girls’ political participation, which further hinders inclusive governance in Nigeria

She reiterated that the Constitution should also actualize equitable women representation in government, through at least 35% women representation in appointive offices at the Federal and State levels.

The women leaders coalition also proposed that the Constitutional review define Gender as a benchmark for Federal Character, explaining that the Constitution has already created the Federal Character as an Affirmative Action Mechanism that ensures the representation of margainalized groups in the country.

The texts reads; “Create additional special seats for women in the Federal and State Legislative Houses:
(a) In Senate: one seat for a woman from the 36 states and the Federal Capital

“(b) In the House of Representatives: two seats for women from the 36 states and the Federal Capital

“(c) In the States’ House of Assembly: one seat from each of the three senatorial districts.

“In addition to these Constitutional provisions, the National Gender Policy was also intended to increase the number of women in political office, party organs, and public life by setting a goal of 35 percent affirmative action to support women in all elected and appointed positions by 2015. But our current reality in 2021, is that women’s political representation is still below 10 percent. It is no longer news that women in Nigeria are yet to benefit from these provisions”, the group noted.

Constitutional Review: North Central commences two day zonal public hearing

Participants from Niger, Kwara and Kogi States as well as the Federal Capital  (FCT) Abuja, converged on the Idris Legbo Kutigi International Conference Hall for the Minna centre of the North Central Zone public hearing on Constitutional review.

The two day event aimed at outlining and articulating the position of the zone on some burning issues as regards the unity of the nation, was attended by critical stakeholders and all the Senators representing the participating States and the FCT.

Declaring the event opened, Niger State Governor and Chairman North Central Governors forum, Abubakar Sani Bello expressed that Constitutional review, if well articulated, would guarantee better and inclusive economic growth as well as increase political stability and enhance peaceful coexistence.

The Governor, who was the Chief Host of the event, described the event as a significant one for the nation pointing out that Nigeria has evolved over time and for the country to attain its actual position in the comity of nations, there is need to review emerging issues in the constitution. 

He said, in all Federal Systems of government, restructuring is a dynamic process through legislation and other procedures accepted by the citizens as the need arises adding that despite different perception concerning the  constitutional review, the unity of Nigeria must remain sacrosanct and that the country is stronger and better as one indivisible nation.

“As the Chairman of North Central Governors’ Forum we’ve had series of meeting on the same subject. I have no doubt in my mind that, at the end of this exercise, justice will be done so that the states of the North Central will enjoy the benefit and full potentials of our democratic system”, he said.

According to the Governor, “we need to consider as a country the nature and type of Constitution we want; in addition to other issues like autonomy for local government, Legislature and Judiciary, we also need to carefully consider the Concurrent and Exclusive Lists; Devolution of Powers and other issues that are cardinal to the survival of the country.”

He enjoined all the participants to take advantage of the opportunity and critically look at the 1999 Constitution with the view to coming out with a workable document that will provide for effective and efficient system of government at all levels.

The Deputy Senate President and Chairman Senate Committee on Constitution Review, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, said the Senate has decided to adopt a bottom-top approach by listening to Nigerians first at all the geopolitical zones.

Represented by the Senate Deputy Chief Whip and Niger North Senator, who is also the Sub-committee Chairman of the Constitution Review for North Central Minna centre, Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, Senator Omo-Agege said that topical issues such as judicial and electoral reforms, local government autonomy and devolution of powers are to be looked into.

“You will agree with me that, if we get these items through constitutional processes of alteration successfully then, our Constitutional Democracy will be set on the right pedestal, and ultimately, Nigeria will take its pride of place among the enviable constitutional democracies in the world”, he said.

He said the constitution review represents a critical phase in our development and advancement as a nation, urging Nigerians to use the opportunity to express their opinions on the fundamental laws to govern them.

He said that the Senate Committee on the Review of the Constitution is mindful of the reoccurring clamour for constitutional amendment over the years, adding that many have argued that the 1999 constitution is not peoples oriented.

While assuring that the memorandum submitted will be given a critical consideration, the Deputy Senate said the National Assembly have a herculean task to ensure that the people get their constitution as they want it to be.

In their separate remarks, Speakers Niger State House of Assembly, Bawa Wuse and the Deputy Whip, Kwara State Assembly Mr. Jimoh Aliyu Yusuf called for peace, love and unity among Nigerians irrespective of religion, ethnic and political differences so as to keep Nigeria together.

They emphasized that as Nigerians, we must ensure that our behaviours are in tune with our constitution instead of engaging in the the review of our Constitution to suit our situation.

While appreciating the people, Senator Philip Tanimu Aduda commended Governor Sani Bello for providing a peaceful platform to host the meeting.

STRIKE: FG deliberately killing polytechnic education in Nigeria, ASUP declares

The national leadership of the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) on Tuesday accused the federal and state governments of undermining polytechnics education in Nigeria by deliberately designing and implementing bad policies in them.
ASUP National President Anderson Ezeibe, at a press briefing held at Federal Polytechnic, Oko in Anambra State, said that the government establishes polytechnics mainly to satisfy its political desires.

‘The Nigerian state has consciously, over the years, decided to abdicate from its responsibilities towards developing skill-based education. And this is contrary to the provisions in the nation’s policy on education adopted since 1977 which recognized the place of technical and vocational education in the development of this nation.

‘And as a matter of fact, it is not as if the Nigerian state has decided to do away with this sector. It is not as if the Nigerian state is not seeing the fact that this sector has a very vital role to play to the development of this nation.

‘This is because if that is the case, the establishment of new polytechnics and colleges of technology in this nation will not be taking place. Of course, like you know, 36 new federal polytechnics were established in the recent past in addition to the two established about three years ago.

‘And different state governments are still establishing new polytechnics. So, what it means is that we are led, as a matter of fact, to believe that by the stands of the government, that these institutions are being established to satisfy political convenience. And this is not good enough,’ he complained.

Source: The sun