Hon Benjamin Kalu has reinstated his commitment to the passage of the ‘gender bills’ if his team of Joint Task is elected as Speaker and Deputy Speaker respectively.
The governing APC-endorsed Deputy Speaker who spoke to editors in Abuja, said even as at March last year when the National Assembly withheld their assent to the bills, he supported and spoke in favour of the bills, even though the votes were not enough for them to pass.
Hon Benjamin Kalu is the spokesperson of the 9th House of Representatives and along with Rt Honourable Abass Tajudeen, have been endorsed as Speaker and Deputy Speaker for the 10th House slated for the 13th June.
The gender bills include seeking to amend section 26 of the 1999 Constitution to grant citizenship to foreign husbands of Nigerian women as is currently guaranteed in section 26(2)(a) for foreign wives of Nigerian men; allowing women to claim their husbands’ state of origin after at least five years of marriage; affirmative action, to specifically amend section 223 of the Nigerian constitution to ensure women occupy at least 35% in political party administration and appointive positions; Ministerial or Commissioner Nomination to amend Sections 147 and 192 of the constitution so that at least 35% of the nominees are women and
a bill to create ‘reserved seats’ by amending sections 48, 49 and 91 to create additional 37, 74, and 108 seats for women at the Senate, House of Representatives, and the State Assemblies respectively.
All five bills were rejected by the National Assembly prompting many days of protests by various women groups.
On the marginalization of the South East where the lawmaker comes from, Hon Kalu promised to assuage his zone to see reason in collective nation building as part of his group’s national agenda.
He also promised to join hands with others to bring the South East to mainstream national politics, while assuring he was ready for the task ahead.
“I can assure you that we are bringing the South-East to the centre. We are going to use our platform to bring our people who are agitating”, the deputy speaker designate said, adding that “agitating youth will see a fellow-youth in me. They will see us display spirit of of efficiency, excellence, capacity that will encourage them to believe in Nigeria again”.
The Joint Force he stated is a “collaboration of various political parties coming together to approach issues affecting Nigeria from all parties’ perspectives and ideologies and provide solutions to hydra-headed needs of Nigerians. To do this we need a periscope views on issues, policy direction of all and not only the governing party”. He said Joint Task is a “diversity sensitive group”.
Speaking on their would- be relationship with the executive, Hon Kalu said it will be a joint task. “We will not isolate the executive and judiciary in nation-building. We will however be driven by national objectives” for the sustenance of institutional trust birthed by competence, capacity, transparency and accountability of the House leadership, the lawmaker said.