Transparency and Integrity


WIPF : [ Exclusive] Dialogue With Justice Ishaq Bello On Gender Representation In Nigerian Constitution


Roundtable Discussion On Gender Representation In The 1999 Constitution : A Dialogue With Hon Chief Justice of the FCT Justice Ishaq Usman Bello.

Women In Politics Forum (WIPF) on Tuesday Nov 10 2020 held a Roundtable Discussion on Gender Representation in the Constitution in the FCT Abuja. 

WIPF a leading voice for Inclusion in it's continuous advocacy for advancement of Women Leadership in Nigeria by providing platform for women to train, share, experience, network, advocate and lobby for political space within and outside political parties has it's advocacy drawn from the recognition of the consensus of modern democracies which is that constitutions should be based on inclusivity. The Nigerian Constitution is however described as replete with the provisions which are interpreted to either deny realities of women or outrightly discriminate against them and therefore sees the need to examine the intersections of the gender, law and Nigerian Constitution has become necessary.

Participants to the Dialogue were drawn from the Executive, Judiciary, Legislature, Civil Society Organizations, Media, Women Groups and Donor Partners. 

Present at the Roundtable Discussion as Discussants were:

Right: Senator Eyinnayya Abaribe at the Roundtable Discussion On Gender Representation 

Senator Eyinaya Abaribe, the Minority Leader of the Senate representing Abia South Senatorial District in the National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 

Dame Pauline Tallen speaking at the Roundtable Discussion On Gender Representation In The 1999 Constitution 

Dame (Mrs) Pauline Kedem Tallen OFR, KSG former deputy governor of Plateau state and the current Honorable Minister for Women Affairs, Federal Republic of Nigeria,

Justice O. Goodluck representing the Hon Chief Justice of the FCT Justice Ishaq Usman Bello at the Roundtable Discussion On Gender Representation. 

Barr. Hauwa Shekarau current Chair Nigeria Bar Association Abuja Branch and was former National President of International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA Nigeria)

(L-R) Hauwa Shekarau chair NBA Abuja, Senator Eyinnaya Abaribe, Minority Leader Senate, Justice O. Goodluck, Ms. Comfort Lamptey UN Women Representative to Nigeria and ECOWAS 

The president of Women In Politics Forum (WIPF) Barr. Ebere Ifendu, in her opening remarks said,

Barr. Ebere Ifendu President of  Women In Politics Forum (WIPF) and Director Centre For Gender Education and Rights. 

" The Constitution of any country contains the most important rules and directions governing the lawful existence of the citizens of that country, its regulates the political systems, protects the rights of the people and explains their obligations.

" As a generic document that speaks to the Lives of women and men in the country, the 1999 Nigerian Constitution is replete with 'Male-as norm' ideologies therefore relegating to anonymity the female gender, for equity and fairness, this conversation seeks to answer the glaring question of gender representation and dialect interpretation of the constitution."

Speaking further she said, 

" The discussion will seek to interrogate legal implications and implementation of the gender - marked nouns  and pronouns used to refer to individuals and social / Political positions and also to see that every channel is utilized to ensure that the constitution amendment will have all the contentious sections amended and clauses like affirmative action included. "

The conversation was centered on ' the legal implications and interpretation of gender - marked nouns and pronouns used to refer to individuals and social / Political positions' and ' Legal understanding and definitions of the  " social  construct" of the men Vis-a-vis women in the constitution.' 

The discussion dwelled in the light of certain provisions of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria that seen to defy gender and socio - political equity : 

Justice Goodluck O. Speaking at the Roundtable Discussion On Gender Representation In The 1999 Constitution of Nigeria. 

Two major aspects that were hammered n during the discussion are; 

' Citizenship ' ; Chapter III Citizenship (section 26-Citizenship by registration)

All Nigerian citizens are equal before the law and should not be discriminated on the grounds of gender. 

WIPF stressed that the current provision does not allow Nigerian Women to pass Citizenship to her spouse.

Section 26 - current provision section 26(1)subject to the provisions of section 28 of this section apply, may be registered as a citizen of Nigeria, if the president is satisfied that: 

(a) He is a good person of good character. 

(b) He has shown a clear intention to be domiciled in the 7th schedule to this constitution.


(c) He has taken the oath of allegiance prescribed in the 7th schedule to this constitution. 

The provisions of this section shall apply to 

(a) Any woman who is or has been married to a citizen of Nigeria ; or 

(b) Every person of full age and capacity born outside Nigeria any of whose grandparents is a citizen of Nigeria. 

Furthermore, the discussants addressed the section 29 (4) (a) and (b) reviewing the controversy of this section with the Child Rights Acts and it's implications. 

The section aspect which was extensively discussed at the Roundtable is as seen in:  Chapter IV ' Fundamental Rights' section 42 Rights to freedom from discrimination. 

It is the responsibility of the state to pursue policies that protect groups that are vulnerable, marginalized by reason of historical, natural, age, culture and religious factors. 

Section 42- current provision 42(1)

A citizen of Nigeria of particular community, ethnic group, place of origin, sex, religion, or political opinion shall not by reason only that he is such a person. 

42 (3) Nothing in subsection (1) of this section shall invalidate any law by reason only that the law imposes restrictions with respect to the appointment of any person to any office under the state or as a member of the armed forces of the Federation or member of the Nigeria Police Forces or to an office in service of a body, corporate established directly by any.

(L-R) Dr Paul Abolo, Prof Ada Onyesoh, Senator Eyinnaya Abaribe, Barr Ebere Ifendu President WIPF, Dame Pauline Tallen Hon Minister for Women Affairs, Justice Goodluck O. Ms. Comfort Lamptey UN Women Representative to Nigeria and ECOWAS 

Women In Politics Forum  believes that the Discourse will contribute to and pave way towards a more gender balanced constitution even as the constitution is being reviewed, giving a clearer interpretation and understanding to sections of the constitution. 

It is also believed that it will lead to a positive amendment that will ensure increase in Women's participation in politics by proposing affirmative action and quota to representation. Looking at the Federal Character Commission to include gender, age and disability and also help get a clearer understanding of the 'implied' meaning and interpretation from the Judicial lens will open up discussions on the proposed amendment of the constitution.

See Photos : 

(L-R) Barr. Chioma Onyenucheya-Uko, Vice Chair, NBA Abuja Rights Committee ; Immediate past Pro, FIDA Nigeria, Abuja Branch,  Prof. Ada Onyesoh, International President of the Women's International League For Peace and Freedom (WILPF),  Ms.Regina Omo agege. National Secretary Nigeria League of Women Voters, with the President WIPF. 

Ms. Comfort Lamptey UN Women Representative to Nigeria and ECOWAS


Mrs Toun Shonaya CEO Women FM Wfm 91.7 (Voice Of Women), with Barr. Ebere Ifendu President WIPF. 

(L-R) Mrs Felicia Onibon National Coordinator 100 Women Lobby group,  Mrs Lois Auta Global Citizen, Politician and Disability Rights Advocate with Ms Ene Ede Executive director Equity Advocates. 

(L-R) Prof Ada Onyesoh, Barr Ebere Ifendu with Mrs. Blessing Obidiegu Director Gender Independent National Electoral Commission ( INEC) 


Tsema Ede Representative of Country Director OSIWA at the Roundtable Discussion On Gender Representation In The 1999 Constitution 



(L-R) Austin Aigbe. Senior Program Officer Centre for Democracy and Development CDD, with Wilson Manji Deputy project Director ECES

Mrs. Abiodun Essiet Special Assistant to the AMAC Chairman, at the Roundtable Discussion On Gender Representation. 


Ms. Oluchi A.B Nwosu, Communication Strategist, and Member Young Women In Politics Forum (YWIPF) at the discussion on gender representation. 



(L-R) Senator Eyinnaya Abaribe, Barr Ebere Ifendu and Dr. Paul. Abolo

Senator Abaribe with Evelyn Onyilo President INWOAD and  Winny Fonaka WIPF/INWOAD  

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