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Bill proposing 111 exclusive seats for women passes second reading

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THE bill seeking to create additional 111 seats exclusively for women in the National Assembly has passed second reading.

This was announced on the Twitter handle of the House of Representatives on Thursday.

“A bill for an Act to Alter the Provision of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to create Additional Special Seats for Women in the Federal and States Legislative Houses has passed second reading,” the House tweeted.

The bill, which was first read on Thursday, April 22, was sponsored by the Deputy Chief Whip Nkiruka Onyejiocha.  It sought to create additional exclusive seats for women in both the Senate and  the House of Representatives.

According to a report, the bill would create 37 additional seats in the Senate and 74 in the House of Reps if passed into law.

Onyejiocha explained in the debate on the bill held on Wednesday that it would serve as a remedy to the “low representation of women in legislative houses by providing additional seats to be contested and filled by only women in both the National Assembly and the state Houses of Assembly as a temporary measure to promote women’s representation.”

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Subject to a review after four general election cycles or a period of 16 years, Onyejiocha stated that bill sought to amend Sections 48, 49, 71, 77, 91 and 117 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

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The House of Representatives currently has 360 seats while the Senate has 109 seats. Only about 18 seats are presently occupied by women in the National Assembly.

If passed into law, the bill would bring the Senate to a total of 146 seats and the House of Reps to a total of 434 seats.

It was not clear whether the increase in the number of women would affect that of men in the National Assembly.

Experts say Nigeria should cut the cost of governance by running a unicameral legislative system ( one legislative arm). This is because the country’s revenue is dwindling and economic indices are worsening. But the National Assembly’s bill could balloon the country’s budget for the legislature.

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