10th NASS: Women groups lobby Tinubu for deputy speakership, ‘juicy’ committees
Ahead of the inauguration of 10th national assembly, a coalition of 18 women groups across the country have appealed to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to ensure that a woman be elected as the deputy speaker of the House of Representatives.
While also demanding that at least two women be elected as main Principal officers in the house, the organisations also appealed to lawmakers to ensure that women from both upper and lower chambers are elected to chair Grade A committees.
Addressing journalists on behalf of the groups on Thursday in Abuja, executive director, Gender Technical Unit (GTU), Ekwunife Anazonwu, regretted that women represent about 44 per cent of Nigeria’s voting population, yet less than five per cent of the 1,553 women who contested the 2023 elections across Nigeria were elected.
Members of the coalition included: 100 Women Lobby Group, Association Against Women, Export, Association Against Women Exploitation and Degradation (AAWE/AAWED), Change Managers International Network Emerge Women Development Initiative, Federation of Muslim Women Association in Nigeria (FOMWAN), feminist womanifesto, Gender and Constitution Reform Network (GECORN).
Others are the National Council of Women Societies (NCWS), National Coalition on Affirmative Action (NCAA), Nigerian Women Politics Forum, Nigerian Women Trust Fund (NTWF), Women Advocates Research and Documentation Center (WARDC), Women in Politics Forum, Women Right to Education Programme (WREP), Womens Rights Advancement and Protection Alternatives (WRAPA), Women Wing of The Christian Association of Nigeria (WOWICAN), Women in Management, Business and Public service (WIMBIZ).
Anazonwu observed that despite the consistent push for increased representation of women in politics–elective and appointive positions, the just concluded 2023 Presidential and National Assembly elections show alarming underrepresentation of women.
She argued that women represent about 50 per cent of Nigeria’s population and this should be reflected in the parliament’s leadership as provided for in the National Gender Policy 2022.
She stated: “For instance, of the 1,459 Legislative seats at the state and national levels, so far, women have won only 75 seats. Alarmingly, there are 15 states without a single woman in their State House of Assembly.
“We believe that more women need to be elected as presiding officers and Principal officers positions in the National Assembly of Nigeria, particularly the House of Representatives irrespective of the current numbers”
She noted that diverse legislatures particularly in the leadership are essential for a thriving democracy that truly reflects the interests and experiences of its people by fostering inclusivity and equal representation.
Anazonwu added: “Being in the position of influence is therefore important to bring women’s voices to the fore in the country.
Legislatures serve as the foundation of democratic governance, where laws are enacted and societal issues are addressed.
“When legislatures lack diversity, the voices and perspectives of underrepresented communities are often overlooked, leading to policies that fail to address the unique challenges faced by these communities.
“Decisions being made in parliament need to mainstream gender inclusion and equity. With Nigerian women successfully leading in various fields globally, it is vital that they take the lead in parliament and its committees”.
She maintained that there are qualified and ranking women among the elected National Assembly and State Houses of Assembly.
According to her, having women serve as parliamentary presiding officers and Principal Officers would contribute tremendously to inclusive governance and national development in the next dispensation.
Anazonwu, therefore said the coalition was demanding that “a woman be elected as the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives. At least two women be elected as the main Principal officers in the House of Representatives.
“That womenn from both houses are elected to chair Grade A committees. More resources be allocated to pursue an equal society.
“It is vital for legislatures to reflect the rich tapestry of their constituents. By consciously repositioning the few elected women, legislatures can benefit from a wide range of perspectives and experiences, leading to better decision-making, fairer policies, and a stronger democracy”