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Senate moves for enforcement of 35% affirmative action on female appointees

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Lawan

A fresh alteration to the 1999 Constitution (as amended) is being contemplated by the Senate to compel the federal and state governments to reserve no fewer than 35 per cent of their ministerial and commissionership appointments for women.

The move automatically puts President Muhammadu Buhari and the governors under pressure particularly those whose appointments have fallen short of the demand.

The president, who kicked off his second term campaign last November with a promise to give women 35 per cent of his ministerial appointments, may have to rejig the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for compliance.

In an apparent breach of the vow, Buhari gave only 16.27 per cent of the ministerial appointments to women when he inaugurated his cabinet August this year, as only seven of the 43 ministers were female.

If he had restricted himself to the promise, no fewer than 15 women would have been sworn in as ministers.

The current lucky beneficiaries are Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management, Hajia Sadiya Umar-Farouk; Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Hajiya Maryam Katagun;
Minister of State for Transport, Senator Gbemisola Saraki; Minister of State for Environment, Sharon Ikpeazu; Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Hajiya Zainab Ahmed; her Women Affairs and Social Development counterpart, Dame Pauline Tallen; and Minister of State for the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Rahmatu Tijjani.

The upper legislative chamber’s constitution alteration bill, which was obtained by The Guardian, had already been gazetted and scheduled for debate before the Christmas and New Year holidays.

A source hinted that “because of the controversy generated by this matter in recent times, pressure is being mounted on the Senate leadership to allow for an extensive debate on it in plenary before the chamber goes on Christmas break.”

Sponsored by Senator Rose Oko (PDP, Cross River State), the piece of legislation, in its brief explanatory memorandum, reads: “This bill seeks to alter the provisions of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 to reserve 35 per cent of ministerial positions for women and for other purposes.”

Specifically, the proposal seeks to alter Section 147 of the constitution by inserting after subsection (6) a new subsection “(7)” which reads: “Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (2) of this section, not less than 35 per cent of persons appointed as ministers shall be women.”

Accordingly, Section 192 is being altered by inserting after subsection (5), a new subsection “(6)” that states: “Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (2) of this section, not less than 35 per cent of persons appointed as commissioners shall be women.”

In another development, Senate President Ahmad Lawan has challenged security agencies on intelligence gathering to tackle the country’s insecurity.

Speaking yesterday as a special guest of honour at the 2019 annual general meeting (AGM) and dinner of the Abuja chapter of the ASIS International in the federal capital city, the nation’s number three citizen, who was represented by his Special Assistant on Security and Intelligence, Isah Dogonyaro, spoke against the backdrop of the predominant deployment of confrontation by security agents in the fight against terrorism and other ills in the polity.


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