An address presented by Oby Nwankwo at a Courtesy call on the Senate on the CEDAW Bill on 13/2/2007.
Hon. Minister of Women Affairs
Ladies & Gentlemen
It is our pleasure and Privilege to be part of this courtesy call on the Senate President to advocate for the speedy passage of the Bill to domesticate the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).
I speak on behalf of CSOs in Nigeria who have been working hard to see to the successful implementation of the Convention in Nigeria.
It is noteworthy that Nigeria ratified CEDAW in 1985, and by this committed to ensure that the contents are corporated into our national laws. 22 years thereafter Nigeria has not fulfilled that international obligation successive governments after ratification did not see any urgency in fulfilling this commitment. It is therefore to the credit of the present government that CEDAW is on its way to be domesticated. The President was magnanimous in making the bill an executive bill in order to facilitate its passage realizing the utmost need to protect the reputation and integrity of Nigeria in the Country of nation. The Senate President has also magnanimously live up to the promise he made to us on 20th July 2005 at the Tribunal on the Violation of the Political Rights of Women at one of the Hearing Rooms of the National Assembly to ensure that CEDAW is domesticated in the lifetime of this National Assembly. On 22nd August 2006, the Bill passed through first reading at the Senate. The first reading was witnessed by a large number of women led by the Hon Minster for Women Affairs, Hajia Inna Ciroma. We have been following developments thereafter and we are aware that the Committee on Foreign Affairs has completed its report.
Our visit today is to express our profound gratitude to the Distinguished Senate and the National Assembly for the work they have so far done on this Bill.
An Igbo saying that if you praise a man for a good deed, he will do more. It is noteworthy that this courtesy call is happening very close to Valentine's Day. On behalf of CSOs in general and Nigerian women in particular, we appeal to you, in the spirit of valentine to list CEDAW Bill as one of the Bills to be passed before the end of the life of this National Assembly. By so doing, you will be writing your name and names of your colleagues in gold. In 2005, you promised to ensure that women are brought into the scheme of things as worthy partners in development of Nigeria.
On the 22nd August 2006, following several advocacy visits to the National Assembly to lobby the Senators, the bill was finally listed for first reading. It passed through this stage without problem. It was thereafter committed to the Committee on Foreign Affairs for consideration. The Committee member to whom the assignment was given, Senator Ben Obi, called for further clarifications on the contents of the bill. I sent a concept note on it to him. He also wanted a lost of countries that have ratified and or domesticated the Convention. This was also sent to him with highlights on Islamic countries. This is because we mentioned that his muslim colleagues were raising questions alleging conflicts of some sections of the Convention with the Koran. It is presently with the Committee on Women Affairs.