STATEMENT BY THE HONOURABLE MINISTER OF WOMEN AFFAIRS, ON THE PROPOSED ALTERATION TO THE PROVISIONS OF THE CONSTITUTION OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, 1999”

PROTOCOLS

It is heartwarming to see you all at this strategic engagement with the Media organized by my Ministry in collaboration with our partner Civil Society Organizations with support from UN Women ahead of the Zonal Public Hearing on the Proposed Alteration to the Provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999,” holding in two Centres each of the six geo-political zones of the country from 26th to 27th May, 2021.

2. I want to commend all the partners from all walks of life, men and women alike, who have worked tirelessly to ensure that the voices of Nigerian Women in the on-going process are clearly articulated. I want to use this opportunity to thank the Nigerian Women Trust Fund, 100 Women Lobby Group, Centre for Democracy and Development, Coalition of Women in Governance and leadership, Women’s Aid Collective, Legal Awareness for Nigerian Women, Equity Advocates, Women in Politics Forum, Girl child empowerment and Reproductive Health Initiative, WARD-C and others.

3. As representatives of Nigerian who make up almost 50% of the Nigerian population are committed to rapid national development in Nigeria and appreciate the growing consensus on the important role women play in development globally. It would be recalled that the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs working with a cross section of CSOs had earlier submitted a Memorandum in response to the call for submission made by the 9th National Assembly on the Review of the 1999 Constitution in September, 2020.

4. We are aware that several positions have been represented through Memoranda to the Constitution Amendment Committee, including the ones from the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs, and those of our partners in the Women Political Participation Technical Working Group (WPP-TWG) and other Civil Society Organizations (CSOs). We are all in conformity with the Constitution Nigeria Women Want. The question on the lips of many is what do women really want? Well, my simple response is based on the Women’s collective Demand; which is “It is Time for an Inclusive Nigeria’s Constitution: The Constitution Nigerian Women Want.”

5. 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. The return of Nigeria to democracy in 1999 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.

6. This is despite the 2006 National Gender Policy (NGP) and the various regional and international instruments that the government has signed on to. Over the years, Nigerian women and other critical stakeholders have continued to mobilize and strategize to seek interpretations of the 1999 Constitution as amended with the sole objective of getting legal backing for deliberate inclusive governance in Nigeria.

7. Nigeria, as a member of the international community, has signed and ratified a number of international and regional human rights instruments that promote women’s rights (the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948; International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, 1966; International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 1966; CEDAW, 1979; African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, 1981; Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, 2003; and the Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality in Africa, 2004, among others). These instruments are all-encompassing as they protect women’s economic, social, cultural, civil, and political rights, among others.

8. The Nigerian Constitution requires that an international treaty must be domesticated in order for it to apply (section 12 of the 1999 Constitution). Most of the International and Regional Human Rights instruments specifically enacted for the promotion and protection of women’s rights are yet to be domesticated in Nigeria. Some of these include the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa.

9. A country’s Constitution is the single most important document, particularly as it directs the affairs of the Government and People. Therefore, its processes and procedures should be inclusive and take cognizance of expectations and concerns of all and ensure people-centered legislation. Considering that Nigerians and indeed Women yearn for a Constitution that truly represents the preamble;” We, the People of the Federal Republic of Nigeria…”

10. “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. This implies that 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. As it stands, the Constitution does not adequately afford women this opportunity.

11. 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.

12. A critical look at Nigeria’s electoral positions show that they are male-dominated, despite the fact that the country’s Constitution guarantees the right of every citizen to participate in politics. Equally, the Constitution recognizes women’s right to vote for and be voted.

13. 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.

14. To ensure equitable women representation in Government, it is important the Constitution is reviewed to provide for at least 35% women representation in appointive offices at the Federal and State levels. This will begin with an amendment of section 14 subsection (3) that prohibits predominance of persons from a few States, ethnic or sectional groups in the composition of the Government and its agencies to also introduce a prohibition of the predominance of any sex in the composition of the government and its agencies. Also, Section 14 (4) introduces the equitable representation of both sexes in the composition of government at a state, Local Government Councils, or any of its agencies. Other sections for reference include sections 147(3), 171(5), 192(2), 208 (4).

15. In addition, we fully back the proposal to include Gender as a benchmark for Federal Character and related matters. And to create additional special seats for women in the Federal and State Legislative Houses, by altering among other sections, in the 1999 constitution:
1. Section 48 of the Principal Act be altered by substituting the existing section 48 with a new section “48”: Composition of the Senate: The Senate shall consist of:

b. three Senators from each State and one from the Federal Capital Territory; and
c. an additional Senator for each State and for the Federal Capital Territory, who shall be a woman.

2. Section 49 of the Principal Act be altered by substituting the existing section 49 with a new section “49”: Composition of the House of Representatives:

c. Subject to the provisions of the Constitution, the House of Representatives shall consist of:

d. 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

e. two additional members for each State and for the Federal Capital Territory, who shall be women.

3. Section 71 of the Principal Act be altered by inserting immediately after sub-sections (1) (a) and (b), new subsections “(2)” and “(3)”:

71. Senatorial districts and Federal Constituencies:

(1) Subject to the provisions of section 72 of the Constitution, the Independent National Electoral Commission shall:
(a) divide each State of the Federation into three Senatorial districts for purposes of elections to the Senate;

(b) subject to the provisions of section 49 of the Constitution, divide the Federation into three hundred and sixty Federal constituencies for purposes of elections to the House of Representatives.

(2) For the purpose of section 48 of the Constitution, a State shall constitute an additional senatorial seat to be occupied by a woman.
(3) For the purpose of section 49 of the Constitution, the Independent National Electoral Commission shall divide each State of the Federation into two Federal constituencies to be occupied by women.

5. Section 77 of the Principal Act is altered in subsection (1) by substituting the words “every Senatorial district or Federal constituency” in lines 1 and 2 with the words “every Senatorial district, Federal constituency and the additional seats”:

“77. Direct election and franchise:
(1) Subject to the provisions of the Constitution, every Senatorial district, Federal constituency, and the additional seats established in accordance with the provisions of this Part of this Chapter shall return one member who shall be directly elected to the Senate or the House of Representatives in such manner as may be prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly.”

6. Section 91 of the Principal Act is altered by substituting the existing section 91 with a new section “91”:

“91. Composition of the House of Assembly:
(1) Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, a House of Assembly of a State shall consist of:

(a) 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

(b) one additional member from each of the three senatorial districts in the State referred to in section 48 (1) (a) of the Constitution, who shall be a woman.

(2) Notwithstanding the provision of subsection (1) of this section, nothing shall prevent a woman from contesting for any of the seats in the constituencies referred to in subsection (1)(a)

(3) The provisions of subsection (1) (b) shall commence after the current life of the State House of Assembly and shall be reviewed after 16 years from its commencement notwithstanding any other provision of this Constitution.
Provided that a House of Assembly of a State shall consist of not less than twenty-four and not more than forty-three members.”

7. Section 117 of the Principal Act is altered in subsection (1) by inserting immediately after the words “every State constituency” in line 1, the words “and the additional seats”:

“117. Direct election and franchise:
(1) Subject to the provisions of the Constitution, every State constituency and the additional seats established in accordance with the provisions of this part of this Chapter shall return one member who shall be directly elected to a House of Assembly in such manner as may be prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly.”

16. We believe these temporary but necessary measures will enhance inclusive governance that we earnestly yearn for. We therefore note with emphasis on the need for a critical amendment to several sections of the Constitution to enhance women’s political participation. We call on the 9th National Assembly headed by the gender-friendly, HeForShe Senate President, Dr. Ahmed Lawal, and the Rt Honorable Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, to act now in support of this course.

17. I want to use this opportunity to appeal to First Ladies in the States and the Honourable Commissioners of Women Affairs to work with CSOs and to mobilize all women groups to participate at the Public Hearing in the 12 Centres; including making presentations, lobbying and advocating for inclusion of women’s position.

18. We will continue to sustain this Media engagement to ensure that our issues are heard all over. Once again, I thank all members of the CSOs for working closely with us in this journey towards achieving a just an egalitarian Nigerian Society

19. Long live Nigerian Women
Long Live the Federal Republic of Nigeria

20. I thank you all.

Share:

More Posts

IRIAD International Day for Tolerance Statement

IRIAD-THE ELECTORAL HUB COMMEMORATES INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR TOLERANCE 2022 … Urges all electoral stakeholders to celebrate our diversity and foster acceptance of our difference across religion, culture, region, generation, sex, (dis)ability. Let’s shun intolerance and join hands together to safeguard the integrity of the electoral process and ensure that 2023 general elections are free, fair, credible, and widely acceptable The

IRIAD -International Day of the Girl Child Statement

…. CELEBRATING EVERY GIRL-CHILD ACROSS THE WORLD Today the Initiative for Research, Innovation, and Advocacy in Development (IRIAD) and The Electoral Hub join the rest of the world to celebrate the International Day of the Girl Child. On December 19, 2011, The United Nations (UN) General Assembly adopted Resolution 66/170 to declare October 11 as the International Day of the

IRIAD COMMEMORATES INTERNATIONAL DEMOCRACY DAY 2022  

IRIAD COMMEMORATES INTERNATIONAL DEMOCRACY DAY 2022 … Urges all national and local stakeholders as well as citizens to promote and imbibe democratic ideas and values and safeguard the Integrity of the upcoming 2023 General Elections.   TODAY, The Electoral Hub and the Initiative for Research, Innovation, and Advocacy in Development (IRIAD) join the rest of the world to celebrate the

IRIAD COMMEMORATES THE WORLD HUMANITARIAN DAY 2022

IRIAD COMMEMORATES THE WORLD HUMANITARIAN DAY 2022: “To Show the Importance, Effectiveness, and Positive Impact of Humanitarian Work” The Initiative for Research, Innovation, and Advocacy in Development (IRIAD) celebrates Humanitarian and Aid workers all around the world as we mark World Humanitarian Day 2022. IRIAD is committed to improving citizens’ participation in governance, improving democracy, as well as promoting Gender

Send Us A Message

This website is made possible by the support of the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), The contents of this website are the sole responsibility of IRIAD. The resources on this website are being shared for informational purposes only and do not necessarily reflect the views of OSIWA.

Gallery