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The Nation

10th assembly: CSO rejects APC’s zoning arrangement, says it disregards women

BY Maryam Abdullahi

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The Nigerian Women Trust Fund (NWTF), a civil society organisation, says the zoning arrangement by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) for the 10th assembly leadership does not favour women.

In a statement on Friday, Mufuliat Fijabi, CEO of the organisation, said the zoning arrangement neglected women who have worked hard to earn positions in the lower and upper chambers of the national assembly.

In May, the ruling APC nominated Tajudeen Abbas, a member of the house of representatives, and Godswill Akpabio, a former minister of Niger Delta affairs, as candidates for the speaker and president of the senate.

Fijabi said the zoning system did not reflect President Bola Tinubu’s promise to ensure women and youth inclusion in his administration.

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“The Nigerian Women Trust Fund is alarmed by the position of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and President Bola Ahmed Tinubu on the zoning arrangement for electing presiding officers of the senate and house of representatives,” the statement reads.

“The zoning arrangement is a clear disregard to the capabilities of the Nigerian women who have fought the hurdles to clinch the seats at both lower and upper chambers with the requisite knowledge in the operations of the national assembly even as ranking members.

“It is disturbing that the president who had promised Nigerians significant inclusion of women and youth is also supporting a zoning arrangement that completely excludes women from becoming principal officers of the 10th national assembly ahead of the inauguration of the 10th national assembly on Tuesday, June 13, 2023.

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“President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, on Wednesday 7, June 2023, made a strong appeal to the All Progressives Congress (APC) senators-elect and members-elect to abide by the zoning arrangement which excludes women, as announced by the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party in electing presiding officers of the senate and house of representatives. A position that openly neglects women at the national assembly.

“Last month, APC zoned the position of the president of the senate in the 10th assembly to the south-south with senator Godswill Akpabio as the preferred candidate and senator Jubrin Barau from the north-west, as the preferred candidate for deputy senate President position. Also, Hon. Tajudeen Abbas and Hon. Benjamin Kalu were chosen as preferred candidates for the offices of speaker and deputy respectively in the next house of representatives.

“This is not in tandem with the president’s proclaimed renewed hope agenda. The hope of Nigerian women is again dashed by this act. We, therefore, call for the inclusion of female senators-elect and female members-elect in the zoning arrangement for principal officers of the national assembly.

“This also contradicts the judgment of 6 April 2022 by the federal high court Abuja, mandating the government to implement a minimum of 35 percent affirmative action in all positions.”

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