Some traditional rulers from the South-East geo-political zone have joined the call for the integration of the 35 per cent Affirmative Action and gender equality in the proposed constitutional amendment.
The royal fathers made their views known in Enugu Tuesday at a workshop organised by the Gender and Constitution Reform Network (GERCON) for South East women groups and policy makers.
Speaking at the workshop, Igwe Raphael Eze, the Chairman, Traditional Rulers’ Council in Nsukka Local Government Area of Enugu State, said giving women equal representation was long overdue.
“It is over- due. It ought to have been there abinitio. It is the right time that that mistake is corrected to fill the lacuna created by the military.
“If you include gender issues in the constitution, that is the beginning of developmental processes to reach the grassroots in this country.
“And if it is included also, I do not even believe that there should be some percentage for women. I believe in equality before the law because the law says every person is equal before the law and even the law of God which is supreme, everybody is equal before God,” he said.
Eze said women constituted more than 50 per cent of the population and should be given equal opportunities to serve the country.
The royal father urged women to take “their rightful places in the scheme of things”.
In his contribution, the traditional ruler of Ihe Awgu in Enugu State, Igwe Godwin Ekoh said gender issues should be highlighted in the constitution.
“When we are talking about gender issues, we must understand that our daughters are the people we are talking about. If you love your daughter, you would not like to harm her in any way.
“Or you have a wife and after you left this world, your wife started struggling for things that you acquired with her with other people. You will not be happy wherever you are.
“So it is better we straightened things now that we are alive.
“I want them to put everything concerning gender issues, let them make it specific so that when people violate the law, there will be punishment for that instead of leaving it to hollow because it is not well specified in the constitution, “ he said.
Earlier, the South East Coordinator of GERCON, Dr Joy Ezeilo said the workshop was in response to the Senate Adhoc Committee’s call for memoranda on the proposed constitutional review.
She said women groups, policy makers, and opinion leaders were at the workshop to articulate views for the inclusion of gender issues in the constitution.
“If you compare the Nigerian constitution with other countries’ even in Africa, as far as women’s rights and human rights are concerned, you will see that our constitution is retrogressive.”
Ezeilo, who is also a United Nations Rapporteur on Human Trafficking appealed to the National Assembly to consider the requests made, adding that progress of women was progress for the entire country.