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Constitution Amendment: Senate to include 35 per cent affirmative action in Gender Bill

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The Senate on Wednesday promised to include a Bill seeking to provide 35 per cent affirmative action for women in the Gender and Equal Opportunity Bill.

This resolution followed a Point of Order raised by Deputy Minority Whip, Sen. Biodun Olujimi, after the voting on the amendment of the Constitution by the lawmakers during plenary.

In the motion, Olujimi said “I thank this Distinguished Senate for what transpired during the Constitution amendment. I want to thank those who voted for the clause that had to do with affirmation action for women, and those that did not vote.

“We lost the vote but we won the popular vote,” she said.

According to her, the exercise was a mark of democracy, saying that “he who fights and runs away, lives to fight another day.”

“In the light of that, I want to ask for this great obligation that the Senate do graciously allow that the clause on affirmative action be brought in when the Gender and Equal Opportunity Bill comes back to the Senate.

“I ask that you support us in that because that will just be a law that can be subjected to amendments as and when due,” Olujimi said.

Seconding the motion, Deputy President of the Senate, Sen. Ike Ekweremadu, said “I recall that this Senate is a very gender sensitive Senate.

“We supported women at all material time. Anytime we had issues concerning women we stood by them. The voting we had was actually in response to some other provisions of the constitution, especially those dealing with issues of non discrimination.

“It was very difficult to sideline some of the provisions we voted against in the existing provisions of the constitution,” Ekweremadu said.

According to him, what they have done is to do a debate to enable the Senate have another look at the Constitution.

“I am supporting the motion so that when we do the Bill relating to gender matters, we will be able to focus on the issue of affirmative action.

“I plead with this Senate that we remember this commitment and also support our women,” he said.

The matter was unanimously agreed upon when put to Voice Vote by the President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki.

The Gender Equal Opportunity Bill has scaled second reading and is currently before the Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters.

(NAN)