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Constitution Review: 100 Women Groups- WPP-TWG Demands Equitable Women Representation in Government

By Dupson Collins

27th May, 2021

The constitution review by the National Assembly has given Nigerians opportunity to aired their view on the lucuna in the 1999 Constitution as amended.

The two days Public Hearing of the Senate Committee on Constitution Review was held at the International Culture and Event Centre (DOME), Akure.

One of the groups that presented paper were the Women Political Participation Technical Working Group (WPP-TWG).

To enhance the participation of women in the governance, the group has made a passionate plea against gender-bias constitution that has over the years undermine women and girls’ political participation in governance in Nigeria.

Speaking with Newsmen after the presentation put together by the 100 Women Lobby Group, Mrs. Felicia Onibon who speaks on behalf of the group said the women want a constitution that is gender-neutral and that ensure equitable women representation in government across board.

In her words, ” through at least 35% women representation in appointive offices at the Federal and State levels thus calling for the 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, to introduce in Section 14 (4) the equitable representation of both sexes in the composition of government at a state, Local government councils, or any of it is agencies. Other sections for reference include sections 147(3), 171(5), 192(2), 208 (4).

WPP-TWG also made strong case to include Gender as a benchmark for Federal Character, create additional special seats for women in the Federal and State Legislative Houses and that Section 77 of the Principal Act be 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”: among others.

The Memorandum for the Review of the 1999 Constitution as submitted by the WPP-TWG reads in full:

May 26, 2021

The Chair,

Senate Committee on Constitutional Amendment,

National Assembly,

Abuja, Nigeria

Through:

The Senate Representative

Zonal Public Hearing

Ondo State

Dear Distinguished Senator,

It is Time for an Inclusive Nigeria’s Constitution: THE CONSTITUTION NIGERIAN WOMEN WANT.

This Memorandum for the Review of the 1999 Constitution is submitted by the Women Political Participation Technical Working Group (WPP-TWG). The WPP-TWG is a partnership working group to enhance the participation of women in the governance of our beloved country. The group is an outcome of the Post-2019 General Election Conference held by partners to interrogate the low level of women representation in elective positions.

Female political representation in the 2019 elections was negligible relative to approximately half of the population they constitute. Of the 2,970 female candidates (11.36%), only 70 got elected, a meager 4.71% of elected officials. This figure represents a decline from the 2015-19 period, where women formed 5.65% of elected officials.

From the foregoing, the WPP-TWG do submit as:

Ensure 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.
Ensure equitable women representation in government, through at least 35% women representation in appointive offices at the Federal and State levels. 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, to introduce in Section 14 (4) the equitable representation of both sexes in the composition of government at a state, Local government councils, or any of it is agencies. Other sections for reference include sections 147(3), 171(5), 192(2), 208 (4).
Include Gender as a benchmark for Federal Character. The Constitution has already created the Federal Character as an Affirmative Action Mechanism that ensures the representation of marginalized groups in the country. To achieve this, alter Section 14 by substituting for subsection (3), a new subsection “(3)”: The composition of the Government of the Federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in a manner as to reflect the diversity of Nigeria along the lines of federal character and gender diversity and the need to promote national unity, and also command national loyalty thereby ensuring that there shall be a predominance of persons from a few States or from a few ethnic, linguistic or religious groups or of persons of one gender in that Government of in any of its agencies.
Create additional special seats for women in the Federal and State Legislative Houses: WPP-TWG support the proposed amendment as follow:
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 the State.

To achieve this, we move for the alteration of the following:

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:
a) three Senators from each State and one from the Federal Capital Territory; and

b) an additional Senator for each State and for the Federal Capital Territory, who shall be a woman.

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

b. 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

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

Section 71 of the Principal Act be altered by inserting immediately after sub-sections (1) (a) and (b), new subsections “(2)” and “(3)”:
(a) Subject to the provisions of section 72 of the Constitution, the Independent National Electoral Commission shall:

(i) divide each State of the Federation into three Senatorial districts for purposes of elections to the Senate;

(ii) 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.

(iii) For the purpose of section 48 of the Constitution, a State shall constitute an additional senatorial seat to be occupied by a woman.

(iv) 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.

Section 77 of the Principal Act be 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”::
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.”

Section 91 of the Principal Act is altered by substituting the existing section 91 with a new section “91”:
(a) Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, a House of Assembly of a State shall consist of:

(b) 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

(c) 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.”

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

We believe these temporary but necessary positive measures will enhance inclusive governance that we earnestly yearn for.

Please pass on our warm regards to the Gender-friendly, HeForShe Senate President, Dr. Ahmed Lawal, and our own Deputy Senate President, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, who graciously sponsored one of the alterations to the 1999 Constitution we have amplified here.

Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria

Women Political Participation Technical Working Group (WPP TWG)

Federal Ministry of Women Affairs
Women International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF)
Women in Politics Forum (WIPF)
Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD)
Nigerian Women Trust Fund (NWTF)
100 Women Lobby Group
Coalition of Women in Governance and Leadership
Women’s Aid Collective (WACOL)
Legal Awareness for Nigerian Women Kaduna
Equity Advocates.
Girl Child Empowerment and Reproductive Health Initiative. (GREP)
Women’s Rights Advancement and Protection Alternative (WRAPA)
National Democratic Institute (NDI)
Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)
International Federation for Electoral Systems (IFES)
European Centre for Electoral Support (ECES)
Coalition of Women Leaders in Kaduna State on COVID-19 Response
Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP)
Kimpact Development Initiative (KDI)
Women Advocate Research and Documentation Centre (WARDC)
International Federation of Women’s Lawyer (FIDA) Nigeria
Womanifesto
Young Women in Politics Forum
Women’s Situation Room Nigeria
Women for skill Acquisition and Development center
Joy Onyesoh Foundation
New Initiative for Social Development (NISD)
UTO Foundation
Girls’Power Initiative GPI
Change Managers International Network (CMIN)
Women Advancement Entrepreneurship Leadership (WAEL)
South-South Professional Women Association (SSPWA)
Celebration of Women in Christ (CWIC)
Association of Women for Human Development in Ondo State.
E-WAY For Development
Do Foundation
Empowering Women for Excellence Initiative (EWEI)
Generations For Peace Nigeria (GYDI)
African Women Empowerment Guild (AWEG)
LIFELINE EMPOWERMENT INITIATIVE
TABITHA CUMI Foundation
AFRI-Care Foundation
Women Standard-Bearers’ International (WOSBI)
Interfaith Mediation Center Kaduna
Jam’iyyar Matan Arewa
Lifeline Compassionate Global Initiative
Gender Awareness Trust (GAT)
Women Foundation of Nigeria (WFN)
Nkata Ndi Iyom Igbo
Network of women with disabilities
Women in Media
Conference of State Female Parliamentarians ( CONFEPA)
Life Helpers initiative.
African better life Organization
Hikima community mobilization and development initiatives
League of Women Voters of Nigeria (NILOWV)
Small Scale Women Farmers Organization of Nigeria (SWOFON)
Network of Disabled Women of Nigeria (NDW)
Christian Women for Excellence and Empowerment in Nigerian Society (CWEENS)
NECA’s Network of Entrepreneurial Women (NNEW)
Nigerian Feminist Forum (NFF)
Federation of Muslim Women Association of Nigeria (FOMWAN)
Women Radio 91.7
Center for Gender Economics Initiative (CGE)
Women’s Rights and Health Project (WRAHP)
Women Information Network (WINET)
Women Empowerment and Peace Building Initiative (WEPBI)
Neighborhood Care-Well Foundation
Child Care and Adult Protection Initiative (CCAPI)
Centre for Training and Development Activities (CETDA)
Gender and Development Action (GADA)
NANA Girls and Women Empowerment Initiative
Association of Women Living with HIVAIDs (ASWHAN)
Kungiyar Tallafin Mata Development Initiative (KTMDI)
Attah Sisters’ Helping Hands Foundation (ASHH)
Fahimta Women and Youth Development Initiative (FAWOYDI)
Rahama Women Development Programme (RWDP)
Olive Community Development Initiative (OCDI)
Global Hope for Women and Children Foundation (GLOHWOC)
Akpabuyo Women Development Association
Double Grace Chapel
Enyierebe Ibiang Akpoji
Good Sheperd Initiative
Radiant Women Association
Ikpiri Ikang Farmers Association
True Beauty Initiative
Perfect Future International Foundation
Voice Of Ejagham Women Association
A Well-Informed Adolescent Association
Nka Iban Uko Foundation
Women Directorate Initiative
Aid Connect for Development (AIDCODE)
Khairi Women And Youth Upliftment For Development Association (KWAYUDA)
Reproductive Health Initiative and Support Association (RHISA)
Small scale women farmers organization in Nigeria
Child Is Gold Foundation
Nagari Women Farmers Bauchi (NAWORFAR)
Karofi Hazaka Ethics and Values Multipurpose cooperative Society (KHEV-MSC)
Women Wing Christian Association of Nigeria (WOWICAN)
Awalah Women of Wisdom Farming Cooperative Society (ABWW-FCS)
Women Empowerment Initiative (WEIN)
A Syndicate in Supporting Women and Children Initiatives (SISWACHI)
Nigeria Women’s Rights And Empowerment Network (NIWOREN)
Yauri Women Development Association (YAWDA)
Bright Capacity Initiative for community Enhancement
Aminchi Support Group Koko (ASGK)
H.SARNA Women Arise
Mar’attussaliha Widows and Orphans Initiative (MWOI)
Nabuche Community Development Association
Taimako Support Group
Zumunchi Support Group
Maginga Women Development Association
Zaki Gem
D’sete Support Initiative Zuru
Zamare Community Development Association (ZACDA)
Global Mission International {GLOMINT}
Health Care Support Services {HCSS}
Ogene Ifunanya Women Association
Njikoka Woman Association
Catholic Women Organization
Widows Support Group Imezi Olo
Oji River Urban Women Association
Women Advocacy for Development
Udi Progressive Union{UDU}
New Life Community Care Initiative
Obige Obukpa Widows Care Foundation
Iyom Umuevu Njoku Women Meeting
Omu-Aran Women Forum
Health is Wealth Women’s Wing
Golden Heart Women Forum
Gender Emancipation Support
Golden Sisters
KW.ST Association Marketer – Women Wing
Unique Ladies Foundation
Community Need Care Development Initiative (CONCED)
Asiri-Abo Women Development Association
Ifedara Women Group
Waaru Suuru Women Community Based Organization
Gesthemane Grace and Mercy Women Development Centre
Bisi Adebayo Networking Gems
Catholic Sisters United in Christ Foundation
Edda Women Progressive Development Initiative
Ejigbo Grinding Machine Operator Association
Epe Women-Help Association
Havilah Impact Women Initiative
Healthy Living Women Empowerment Initiative
Humanity Family Foundation for Peace and Development
My Body My Asset Cancer Foundation
Ogo-Oluwa Women Association
Women Liberation and Transformation Group
Women of Wisdom
Unique Sister, Austria
Media Contact
Mrs. Felicia Onibon (Speaker)
feliciaonibon@gmail.com
Prof Joy Onyesoh – dzoious@yahoo.com
Austin Aigbe – aaigbe@cddwestafrica.org
Signed:

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