National Assembly: cautioned against creating special seats for women.

National Assembly: cautioned against creating special seats for women.

Dr Sharon Omotoso has advised the National Assembly against creating additional 111 special seats for women.

Dr Sharon Omotoso, Coordinator, Women’s Research and Documentation (WORDOC), Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan, made the assertion on Thursday in Ibadan.

Omotoso said the proposed bill seeking to create additional 111 special seats for women at the National Assembly may be an unnecessary financial burden on Nigeria.

Rep. Nkeiruka Onyejeocha (APC-Abia), Deputy Chief Whip, House of Representatives, is a Lead Sponsor of the Bill.

The bill seeking the creation of 111 additional special seats for women in the National Assembly passed the second reading in the House of Representatives on April 29.

It was read for the first time on April 22 and sought to alter the provisions of the 1999 Constitution.

If passed, it would create 37 additional seats in the Senate and 74 in the House of Representatives for women.

The bill also required that one additional member from each of the three senatorial districts in the state will be created exclusively for women in each State House of Assembly.

Omotoso said though, the proposed bill was laudable, it might not be popular with many Nigerians who feel the national assembly already had so much unnecessary spending outlets.

Describing the bill as a sympathetic gesture, she said that it would allow more women lawmakers to be present at the National Assembly and Houses of Assembly.

“The cost of running government in Nigeria is already too high, and creating another 111 new seats exclusively for women would put more pressure on the finances of government.

“Secondly, Nigerians are questioning the existence of so many seats, both at the Senate and House of Representatives.

“What I think they should do is to explore the possibility of women contesting the already existing seats, because the United Nations (UN) recommended that 35 per cent of legislative seats should be reserved for women by every democratic nation.

“Furthermore, this bill will mean that women cannot compete on merit.

“Whereas, we are looking at generation equality and gender equality; that is a situation in which men and women can compete on equal basis politically.

“I feel that women should have a level playing field to compete with men, just as it happens in business, academia and other areas of human endeavour.

“So, the consideration should be on the negative effect it might have on the cost of governance and not sympathy for women,” Omotoso said.

Commenting, Olusoji Aremu, a Professor of Counselling and Criminal Justice Studies, University of Ibadan, said that the move might set a benchmark of political opportunity for women.

Aremu said that it would be a tall order because men dominate the political landscape in Nigeria.

“One of the negative implications that may come with this bill, if passed, is that there would be constitutional crisis if it becomes impossible to meet up with that number.

“The proposed bill is in order, but it should be well debated,” he said.