By Nicholas Kalu, Abuja
A member of the House of Representatives, Rep Taiwo Olukemi Oluga, has said it is unacceptable that women constitute only 20 out of 469 seats of both chambers of the National Assembly.
She further expressed displeasure that there were only 44 women as members of state assemblies nationwide.
Speaking at a round-table dialogue on legal barriers that inhibit women’s political participation in Nigeria, Oluga, who is Chairman House Committee on Women in Parliament, said they were working to ensure more women get into the National Assembly as well as participate more in politics generally.
The round-table was sponsored by the Legal Defence and Assistance Project with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the National Democratic Institute (NDI).
Oluga, who represents Ayedaade/Irewole/Isokan Federal Constituency in Osun State, said power is responsibility and would not just come to anyone sitting back and talking, rather, she urged women to come out, work hard and do what is necessary to get things right.
“We have just 12 female representatives and at the Senate, we have eight. We have a total of 20 this is unacceptable. But we would not just sit down and say it is not acceptable. We have to work hard to ensure more women participation,” she said.
She said a Bill sponsored by herself seeking to alter the constitution to favour women in elective and appointive positions is slated for second reading.
The Bill among others seeks to make it compulsory that at least one Senator from each state must be a woman.
She expressed optimism about the Bill as the leadership of the House under Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila, has been attentive to them and would ensure it is considered in the constitutional review that is ongoing.
Oluga said the 9th Assembly had demonstrated its commitment by bringing every female legislator on board the constitution review committee.
“We are going to use the legislative instrument to ensure more women participation in politics. We urge you to intensify your efforts as we would follow this struggle to a logical conclusion, while we bring on board more women, come 2023 into the National Assembly and even at the state houses of Assembly,” she said.
She said there was no way the problems facing the country would be resolved unless women are adequately involved, not just because they are women, but because they have the capacity to deliver.
Senior Program Manager, Legal Defense and Assistance Project (LEDAP), Pamela Okoroigwe, said the discourse given that women are grossly underrepresented in political positions, especially electives and appointments, in Nigeria.
“So it is very important for us to have this discourse, especially now that there is an attempt to review the constitution. We strongly believe that this affords us a very good opportunity for all of us to work together as a team to ensure that we enhance women’s political representation,” she said.
Program Manager, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Okeke Anya, said the Supporting Advancement on Gender Equality (SAGE) is a USAID-supported project with technical support from NDI.
Anya, who said the low representation of women cuts across all political levels, said the objective of the project is to increase women’s representation in public office in Nigeria by advocating for political and legal reforms at the highest levels so that this would enable women to effectively participate in politics.