Women group seeks inclusion of female senators in zoning arrangement
A GENDER-focused group, the Nigerian Women Trust Fund (NWTF), has raised the alarm over what it termed the “dangerous position of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and President Bola Ahmed Tinubu on the zoning arrangement for electing presiding officers of the Senate and House of Representatives.”
Rising, yesterday, from a meeting held in Abuja, the group, led by its Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Mufuliat Fijabi, said “the zoning arrangement is a clear disregard to the capabilities of Nigerian women, who surmounted hurdles to clinch seats at both the lower and upper chambers with requisite knowledge in the operations of the National Assembly even as ranking members.”
Fijabi said: “It is disturbing that the President, who promised Nigerians significant inclusion of women and youths, is also supporting a zoning arrangement that has completely excluded women from becoming principal officers in the 10th National Assembly ahead of its inauguration on Tuesday, June 13, 2023 .”
She added that President Tinubu, on Wednesday, June 7, 2023, appealed to APC Senators-elect and members-elect, to abide by the zoning arrangement, which excluded women, as announced by the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party in electing presiding officers of the Senate and House of Representatives. A position, she said, that openly neglect women at the National Assembly.
Last month, APC zoned the position of the President of the Senate in the 10th Assembly to the South South, with Senator Godswill Akpabio as the preferred candidate and Senator Jubrin Barau from North West, as preferred candidate for deputy Senate Presiden’s position. Also, Tajudeen Abbas and Benjamin Kalu were chosen as preferred candidates for the offices of Speaker and Deputy respectively, in the next House of Representatives.
Fijabi regretted that this was not in tandem with the President’s proclaimed Renewed Hope Agenda, adding that the hope of Nigerian women is again dashed by this act. She went on to demand for the inclusion of female Senators-elect and female Members-elect in the zoning arrangement for principal officers of the National Assembly.
She revealed also that the president’s action also contradicts the court Judgment of 6 April 2022 by the Federal High Court Abuja, mandating the federal and state governments to implement a minimum of Thirty-Five percent Affirmative Action in all positions.
She said the NWTF is a Civil Society Organisation (CSO) focused on closing the gender gaps at all levels of governance and they won’t relent until equal representation is achieved. “Since 2011, the body has been working to improve Women’s Leadership and Political Participation through Democracy, Leadership and Governance, Organizational Effectiveness, Grant Making and Fundraising, Gender Advocacy, and Research and Information and our strength has been consistently women’s leadership and political participation,” she said.
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