…Female lawmakers protest rejection of indegenship for married women
From Kemi Yesufu and Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
The House of Representatives, yesterday, voted on the amendment of the 1999 Constitution, concurring for most parts with the Senate.
The House postponed voting on the report by the joint Adhoc Committee on Constitution Review by a day, after failed attempts to get its e-voting equipment to function on Wednesday.
Like the Senate, the House voted against the bill on devolution of power, but agreed to a single fresh term of four years for a vice president or deputy governor who serves out the tenure of his or her principal in office, should his/her predecessor dies or is permanently incapacitated.
The lawmakers passed the bill on independent candidature with 275 votes, even as they threw out the bill on creation of states and boundary adjustments.
Despite explanations from two members, Mojeed Fijabi and Adedapo Lam-Adesina on the problems caused by discrepancies in the names of local government councils in Ibadan, the House voted against changing the names of some councils.
Unlike the Senate, the House voted in favour of the alteration of Section 147 of the Constitution to include 35 percent affirmative action for women at the federal level and 20 percent at the state level.
The amendment of this Section also includes the nomination of any person as minister within 30 days after the date the president has taken the oath of office.
The House approved financial autonomy for states legislatures, the abolition of joint account of state and local government and legislative immunity for words spoken by members of the National Assembly on the floor as well as committee hearings.
In all, the House passed 24 bills, throwing out nine of them.
But yesterday’s session didn’t go without drama and heated arguments. Immediately after the House dissolved into the committee of the whole to carry out a clause by clause consideration of the report by the Constitutional Review Committee, a member, Mojeed Alabi, raised a point of order, citing Section 9 of the 1999 Constitution as amended.
Alabi who also cited Order 13 Rule 1:2 of the House Standing Orders, argued that the House did not follow due process.
According to him, the report by the Constitutional Review Committee had not been debated, yet members were proceeding to vote on it.
Speaker Yakubu Dogara ruled him out of order, asking if he was oblivious of the different processes towards the amendment of the constitution carried out by the National Assembly.
Dogara who had in his introductory remarks stressed that the House will vote on each of the amendments for Nigerians to know where it stands on key issues, reminded Alabi of the promise made to the public to deliver a new constitution before the end of the year.
Deputy Speaker, Yussuf Lasun, who chaired the House Adhoc Committee on Constitutional Review equally had harsh words for his colleague from Osun State.
Lasun said he saw the need to counter Alabi’s that the report from his Committee was ‘not ripe for consideration”.
The Deputy Speaker’s words was met with shouts from lawmakers who did not agree with him.
But it took much longer time to stop the protests by female lawmakers over the rejection of the bill on indegeneship for married women.
Nnenna Elendu-Ukeje, Rita Orji, Evelyn Oboro, Boma Godhead among other female lawmakers, received support from some of their male counterparts as they insisted on a recount of the votes on the bill.
Female members gathered near the Speaker’s seat, demanding that result on the voting on the bill must be shown on both display boards of the voting machine. But the second round of voting on the matter still saw only 208 ‘yes’ votes, 32 short of the needed 240 votes.
The “Not Too Young to Run” bill also led to rowdy scenes as shouting erupted just as Majority Leader, Femi Gbajabiamila admonished lawmakers to be properly guided.