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Former Reps member Nnenna Ukeje seeks constitutional amendment for GEO bill

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Mrs Nnenna Ukeje,  a former House of Representatives member, has called for the amendment of  section 42 of the Nigerian constitution, which condemns discrimination of all kinds, to accommodate the Gender and Equal Opportunities bill (GEO).

Ukeje, made this call during the Voice of Women (VOW) Conference and Awards held in Abuja on Tuesday.

According to her, section 42 of Nigeria’s constitution was what encouraged the passage of the Child Rights Act and Persons with Disabilities Act, regretting that same constitution has refused to recognise the GEO bill.

“ Section 42 of the constitution says there should be no discrimination against anybody and we have consistently tried to amend the constitution that is our argument, our justification for more inclusion of women.

“ However, the opponents of the bill will argue that section 42 states that there shall be no discrimination, therefore, when we want to have more inclusion they say it is against the state and the letters of the same constitution.

“ So for us, we have come to realise that section 42 rather than work for us works against us. The argument is that the constitution is self evident but not self enacting and that is the reason we have subsidiary legislation.’’

She, therefore, recommended that the law on Federal Character should include the Gender Character.

“There is the Federal Character Bill that is in the constitution, so we are saying that expand the law on federal character and just add gender, so that all areas will be covered.

Similarly, Austin Aigbe of the Centre for Democracy and Deveopment (CDD), called for the establishment of Gender Character Commission, to further empower women to take positions in governance and other leadership levels.

“It is time to have a gender character commission legislation that empowers women to take positions. We can form a movement on GEO bill just like the Not too Young to Run.’’

On her part, Toyosi Ogunsiji, Founder Rise Networks, stressed on the need to invest in girl-child education, while calling on older women to make conscious efforts to carry younger women along.

Dr Muhammad Mustapha, Director, Dispute Resolution and Development Initiative, encouraged more women to participate in politics, to enable them address the challenges facing women and girls.

The  Chairman, Board of Directors, Women Radio 91.7, represented by Igbokwe Ogechi, stressed the need to focus on the role of women in elevating Nigeria.

“Educating the girl-child will unleash the total potential we have as a nation, to give her the opportunity to develop her full potentials, while contributing to our national development.

“ We must not continue to limit our ability to compete globally by limiting opportunities for women and limiting opportunities for women and limiting opportunities for the girl-child by not educating her.’’

The Nigeria News Agency reports that some persons were conferred with awards for their outstanding support in addressing the plight of women and girls.

Mrs Aisha Buhari, wife of the President, while declaring the conference open, stressed the role of women in nation building.

She said women had begun to speak out and find their voices, hence the need to put more efforts in advocating for women’s rights.

While, receiving the award for “Woman of the Year’’ for her campaign on women and girl-child education, Mrs Buhari, said she was dedicating it to all women with strong character.

Others conferred with awards were Kwara State governor, notable personalities and organisations.

Edited by Dorcas Jonah/Ifeyinwa Omowole

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