The House of Representatives has declared that enough lobbying wasn’t done for the gender bills recently rejected by the lawmakers.
The spokesman for the house, Benjamin Kalu gave the insight while explaining why the members of the green chamber were unable to vote in favour of the gender bills during the constitutional review.
Speaking with journalists in Abuja, Kalu explained that those in support of the gender bills including civil society organizations and other stakeholders, left their lobbying and advocacy too late for it to have any meaningful impact on the outcome of the voting.
The House of Reps spokesperson stated that the lawmakers needed to understand the reasons behind such bills if they are to throw their weight behind them.
He pointed out that no one can just walk in or give instructions and expect the legislators to rubber-stamp his/her opinions.
“I have commended all these people, who even visited the national assembly. That is the beauty of democracy. Because if it were not, the wives of the president and the vice president would have no business coming here. They knew that it was only through lobby, not as you have described us as a rubberstamp where they will just give us instructions—maybe the husband (Muhammadu Buhari) will give us instructions and we will get it done,” he said.
“It will be through lobbying and they participated in that lobbying with all humility. Let us not forget the minister of women affairs (Pauline Tallen), who was also very dogged, and all the civil society organizations (CSOs).
“But I must say this, the lobbying was done a bit late. Yes, I want to say that, but this lobby and advocacy ought to have started longer than now. I say that without mincing words.
“You don’t lobby two days to the voting on a very important issue like this. It goes beyond lobbying at the last minute. It takes a lot of orientation. It takes a lot of advocacy. It takes a lot of sensitization to enable people to buy into these important agendas. Do you know why? Because you cannot play down on our current issues with regards to emerging democracies, one of which is our religious disposition, our cultural dispositions.
“These things play a role. We are part of society, our religion and culture is part of society. It needs a lot of advocacy by civil society organizations, women groups to push this agenda forward, it is a wonderful agenda.
“Nigerians are shifting their focus to the representatives only, it was not the senators and the representatives that did the job, and it was the instruction from their various constituents. This is the truth that must be told. If the house as an institution is not interested in the bill, it would not have passed the first reading, second reading and be allowed to go to the committee stage.”
His explanation follows the public outcry and backlash that greeted the rejection of gender bills by the National Assembly which among other things, sought to reserve some political offices exclusively for women during elections.
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