PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari’s wife Aisha has thrown her weight behind calls for an affirmative action bill that sets aside a fixed percentage of the seats in the National Assembly for women.
Yesterday, Hadjia Aisha Buhari stormed the National Assembly complex to observe the formal submission of the report of the committee on the review of amendments to the 1999 constitution. Accompanied by the minister of women affairs, Pauline Tallen and the minister of finance, Zainab Ahmed, Hadjia Buhari was there to support new laws supporting increased female participation in politics.
Visiting the Senate in solidarity and in support of a provision in the Alteration Bill that seeks permanent legislative seats for women in the National Assembly and state houses of assembly Hadjia Buhari threw her weight behind a gender bill that seeks affirmative action for women. This bill recommends a total of 105 seats for women in the National Assembly, including 36 in the Senate and 68 in the House of Representatives.
Deputy senate president and chairman of the Senate Committee on the Alteration to the Provisions of the Constitution, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, moved that the Senate should receive the report of the constitution review committee. His motion was seconded by Senator Betty Apiafi, the chairman of the senate committee on women affairs.
In his remarks Senator Ahmed Lawan, the senate president, said the visit of the first lady was to show support for a bill to have more female parliamentarians at the federal and state legislatures. He assured Hadjia Buhari that the ninth assembly, while voting on the amendments to the constitution as contained in the ad-hoc committee’s report, would ensure that women participation in governance was commensurate with their population.
Senator Lawan said: “This, we believe, will help in nation building as such significant participation by our women will add value to not only legislation but also the much desired and needed national development. For us as a nation, our motto is unity and faith, peace and progress and we believe that all hands must be on deck to ensure the participation of each and every segment of our society.”
House of Representatives speaker, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila, confirmed that the first lady was in the green chamber to pay solidarity with constitutional amendments that promote women’s causes. Referencing diaspora voting, independent candidacy and separation of office of minister of justice from that of attorney-general of the federation, House of Representatives spokesman Benjamin Kalu, said it was good to allow more political participation of the citizens during elections and to also separate politics from judicial matters.