31st January, 2018
A bill for an Act to amend Federal Character Commission (FCC) Act to give married women the option to choose indigeneship and other related matters passed second reading at the House of Representatives on Wednesday.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Edward Pwajok (Plateau-APC) seeks to address the issue of indigeneship of married women in the country.
Leading the debate, Pwajok said the extant law was discriminatory against women as a man’s indegenship was never questioned even when he married many wives.
The lawmaker said married women had been subjected to psychological trauma on the legal uncertainty of their indigenous identity in the country.
He added that upon marriage, women’s status remained unclear as to whether they were indigenes of their father’s or husband’s homeland.
According to him, women in public service are usually confronted with the dilemma during promotion into directorate cadre.
“We are witnesses to how the promotion of a female justice was delayed on account of indigenship,” he said.
Pwajok said there had been several efforts, including an attempt to alter the constitution to resolve the situation but did not succeed.
The legislator said the culture could be patriarchal but democracy and civilisation should give married women the option of choosing where to belong to.
He noted that if the bill was passed into law, the National Assembly would have solved the problem without altering the constitution.
However, Rep. Sylvester Ogbaga (Ebonyi-PDP) said the bill was misguided, adding that there was no need to allow women to make the choice of indigenship.
He argued that once a woman got married to a man, the two had become one and should share in the origin of the man as presently constituted.
Other legislators contributed against and in favour of the bill.
Consequently, the Speaker of the House, Rep. Yakubu Dogara, referred the bill to the Committee on Federal Character for further legislative actions.