Inability to pass gender equality bill regrettable – Senate president, Lawan speaks

Ahmad Lawan, the President of the Senate, has revealed one of his regrets.

He said he feels bad that the 9th Senate under his purview could not pass the Gender Equality Bill, expected to advance the rights of women in Nigeria.

He said for inexplicable reasons, even bills concerning the National Assembly could not see the light of the day but it was not a basis to write off the Senate as having under performed.

Lawan made the comments on Friday, on the sidelines of the homage paid to President Muhammadu Buhari on the occasion of Eid-el-fitr festivities at the State House, Abuja.

The Senate President, however, advised proponents of such bills not to lose hope but rather campaign vigorously when presenting them again to the 10th National Assembly.

Recall that out of about 68 legislations or amendments, five bills sought to promote more opportunities for women in political parties, governance and the society at large.

But the National Assembly voted against all five bills concerning the women folk, prompting criticisms from a cross section of Nigerians.

One of the five bills sought to grant citizenship to foreign-born husband of a Nigerian woman. Already, a Nigerian man’s foreign-born wife is automatically a Nigerian citizen.

While another bill sought to allocate 35 percent of political positions based on appointment to women. Another legislation sought to create special seats for women in National and State Assemblies.

His words, “First of all, when the bills, five of them that concern women, were not voted for by the National Assembly. I think naturally, there are things that we assume could happen. But they didn’t happen the way we wanted them. But remember that even bills that concern the National Assembly were killed.

“There are bills that concern the National Assembly itself, that did not see the light of the day. I felt bad that we could not pass even one. But then we shouldn’t really lose hope, we should continue to campaign, we should talk to more and more members of the National Assembly. And we should also re-strategize.

“Maybe the kind of campaign that was undertaken may not be necessarily the one that will give you the kind of outcome that we needed. But I’m very confident that we should continue to campaign for issues that we have not been able to get right.

“Let me give you an example. The bill on Mayor for FCT, almost every constitutional amendment period Mayor of FCT will surface. But it has not been passed. Does that mean that we shouldn’t continue to ask for a Mayor for FCT, those that feel there should be a Mayor? No!

“There are issues that concerned the National Assembly itself that were not really passed. So I felt bad that we couldn’t pass any of them. But I’m also very optimistic that if we re-strategize, look at the way we campaign we could get either all of them or some of them passed in the next Assembly by the grace of God”.

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