By Bamidele Salam
I have read a few false and clearly uninformed Media reportage of my position on the Political Inclusive Bills for Women which were part of the Bills considered during the recently conducted Constitutional alterations in the House of Representatives.
The Bills which were product of long years of struggle for a more gender balanced political landscape in Nigeria could not have come at a better time. I am proud to say that I was involved at some point in the conceptualisation of one of the Bills arising from my interaction with some female legislators in a few African parliaments.
As a father of a daughter who openly prides herself as a feminist and husband of a wife who had been an activist for more than three decades, I seem to have the feminist blood in me already and those close to me will attest to my untiring demand for equal opportunities for women, children and vulnerable people in all spheres of life.
It was therefore my joy that the affirmative women inclusive Bills scaled through the committee stage and were brought for voting on the floor of the House of Representatives.
I was actively involved in lobbying members to support two of the Bills seeking legal backing for a minimum quota for our women in political party administration and governance at the cabinet levels.
It was in the course of my lobby that I discovered that many of our colleagues were for various reasons not going to support the Bills.
When the proposal for a 35% quota for women in political parties administration failed to scale through, I moved for an amendment to 15% which was seconded by my colleague Rep. Bagos from Plateau State with the hope that more Hon. members would support the Bill. Unfortunately that too did not pass.
The records of the voting on the Bills which was done electronically are available for any serious reporter to access and ascertain the position I took. The only proposal I abstained from voting on was the one asking for over 100 more special seats for women in Parliament because that would negate my position that even the present size of the Parliament was too large, unwieldy and too expensive for an economy like ours. Even on that I did not oppose but simply abstained!
I therefore wish to restate my commitment to the principles of the gender balancing, women inclusive Bills and my readiness to still support that course whenever opportunities arise.
Rep. Bamidele Salam
Member representing Ede North, Ede South, Egbedore and Ejigbo federal constituency of Osun state in the House of Representatives, Federal Republic of Nigeria.