Gender Bill passes second reading in Nigerian Senate

Edwin Akwueh, Abuja

The Nigerian senate has passed for second reading, a Bill seeking to ensure the equality of men and women, and prohibit discrimination of all kinds. The Bill amongst other things also seeks to empower women in accordance with the United Nations provisions.

The Bill sponsored by Senator Biodun Olujimi representing Ekiti south and twenty other senators unanimously got the support of most senators that participated in the debate.

Six months ago, the Bill was turned down by most of the male senators who cited certain cultural and traditional reasons for their refusal to support the Bill.

In his contribution to the debate, Deputy President of the Senate Ike Ekweremadu described the bill as timely adding that it would go a long way in addressing all forms of discriminations against women.

“This bill is critical in view of the experience of the women folk in our society, and whatever we need to do to protect them needs to be done,” he said.

Also contributing to the debate, the Chief Whip of the senate, Senator Olusola Adeyeye said the time has come to empower the women fully.

“We do not want discrimination against any Nigerian, for any basis, not on the basis of religion, ethnicity, and certainly not of gender. I hold the view that of all the forms of discrimination, the worst is gender discrimination, if you don’t like me for being a Baptist, I can change my religion to please you, I can become a Catholic, I can go to Nasfat. If you don’t like me for being an Igomina man, I have come today dressed like a Kanuri man but if you discriminate against my daughter for being a woman, there is nothing she can do because, until she dies she will remain a woman.”

The Bill was later referred to the senate committee on Justices and human rights for further consideration. It could be recalled that the Bill on gender equality in Nigeria was greeted with stiff opposition in the red chamber when it was first introduced in March 2016.

Meanwhile, the Bill for an act to repeal the Nigerian ports Authority Act CAP 126 LFN, 2004 and to establish the Nigerian Ports and Harbours Authority to provide for the Ownership, Management and Development of Ports and Harbours and related matters 2016 passed second reading.

The Senate also considered eight Bills for concurrence with the House of Representatives. They include, telecommunication and postal offences amendment Bill, National crop varieties, livestock breeds registration Bill, and the enforcement of export standards amendment Bill.

Others are prevention of crimes amendment Bill, water resources amendment Bill, National Agricultural land development authority amendment Bill, import control and management Bill, as well as Agricultural and rural management training Bill.


INEC Commissioners

In another development, President Muhammadu Buhari has requested the senate to consider and approve the appointment of six INEC commissioners, and five commissioners of the National Population Commission (NPC).

The President’s request was contained in a letter addressed to the Senate President and read on the floor of the red chamber during Thursday’s plenary. The five NPC commissioners are, Chief Benedict Ukpong representing Akwa Ibom state, Gloria Fateya Izonfuo, representing Bayelsa state, Kupchi Patricia Iyanya, representing Benue state, while Dr. Haliru Bala is representing Kebbi state and Dr. Eyitayo Oyetunji, representing Oyo state.

These commissioners are to fill the vacancies in the NPC.

On the other hand, the six INEC commissioners are to represent each of the geo-political zones of the country. They are, Professor Okechukwu Ibeanu is from Anambra state and representing the south-east zone, May Agbamuche-Mbu, hails from Delta state and represents south-south, while the north-east zone is represented by AVM Ahmed M’uAzu (Rtd), who hails from Gombe state.

Others are Mohammed Haruna from Niger state, representing the north central zone, Dr. Adekunle Ogunmola of Oyo state, representing the south-west zone, and the north-west geo-political zone is represented by Abubakar Nahuche, from Zamfra state.