Kuni G. Isaac
The level of ambiguity over the providence of gender-related bills in the ongoing amendments to the 1999 Constitution has gone higher as the National Assembly embarks on its two-month annual recess next week.
This is just as the House of Representatives’ Special Ad Hoc Committee on the Review of the 1999 Constitution, which was billed to lay its second report on constitution amendment bills by the end of April, had yet to do so as of the last sitting on Thursday.
The sitting on March 11, 2022, the Speaker of the House, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, noted that the three bills, which the National Assembly earlier voted against but which the House revisited, would be included in the second batch of amendment bills to be considered.
Gbajabiamila particularly said the House would “relist them on the next set of amendments coming up,” adding that “within the next four weeks, they will come again to vote”.
The plenary on June 14, 2022, the speaker also restated the readiness of the House to revisit the gender-related bills which failed to pass but had been revisited by the lawmakers.
The National Assembly had on March 1, 2022, voted on the 68 amendments recommended by the Joint Senate and House of Representatives’ Special Ad Hoc Committee on the Review of the 1999 Constitution.
The five gender-related bills, which were among those seeking to amend various parts of the 1999 Constitution, failed to pass.
The House had on March 8, 2022, reversed itself on three of the five gender-related bills.
Gbajabiamila had noted that the three bills would be included in the second batch of amendment bills to be considered, stating that the House would “relist them on the next set of amendments coming up, I believe, within the next four weeks. They will come again to vote.”
The Chairman of the House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Benjamin Kalu, said, “The Ad Hoc Committee on Constitution Amendment is still alive. It is headed by the Deputy Speaker. It has not come to an end. You know the process of amending the Constitution; you have been here long enough to know it takes a process.
“We came back and we said the gender bills (will be) 4/5. The only one we left out of the gender bills remains the one of giving a representative capacity in all the senatorial zones for women. We are battling with the high cost of governance and we are saying, for now, we need to dust it up for us to see how we will look at that. But the other four bills that are gender-related, we took care of them.”