THE House of Representatives has explained why members overwhelmingly rejected a bill seeking to create additional seats for women in the national and state assemblies.
Spokesperson for the House of Representatives Benjamin Kalu explained that lobbying for the bill was done late.
Speaking to journalists on Thursday, Kalu, who commended efforts by various stakeholders including Aisha Buhari and Dolapo Osinbajo, wives of the president and vice president respectively, said more lobbying should have been done before the National Assembly voted on the bill.
“I must say this, the lobbying was done a bit late. Yes, I want to say that, this lobby and advocacy ought to have started longer than now. I say that without mincing words,” he said.
“You don’t lobby two days to the voting on a very important issue like this. It goes beyond lobbying at the last minute. It takes a lot of orientation. It takes a lot of advocacy. It takes a lot of sensitisation to enable people to buy into these important agendas. Do you know why? Because you cannot play down on our current issues with regards to emerging democracies, one of which is our religious disposition, our cultural dispositions.
“These things play a role. We are part of society, our religion and culture is part of society. It needs a lot of advocacy by civil society organisations, women groups to push this agenda forward; it is a wonderful agenda.”
He said Nigerians should not blame the rejection of the bill solely on the National Assembly.
“If the House as an institution was not interested in the bill, it would not have passed the first reading, second reading and be allowed to go to the committee stage.”
The ICIR had reported how the lawmakers voted against the bill on Tuesday.
The bill, sponsored by Nkeiruka Onyejeocha from Abia State and 85 other lawmakers, sought to alter some sections of the 1999 constitution that stipulate the composition of the Senate, House of Representatives and state houses of assembly.
It also sought to create two federal constituency seats reserved only for women.
Its rejection has continued to attract criticisms for the National Assembly.
Many Nigerians have asked that the bill be represented to the lawmakers for voting before the final draft of the constitutional amendment bills are sent to the various state houses of assembly.