By Haruna Salami
Bill for an ACT to amend the National Centre for Women Development to enhance the functions of the Centre and rename the Centre after Maryam Babangida passed second reading at the Senate Wednesday.
It was sponsored by Sen, Betty Apiafi (Rivers West).
Leading the debate on the general principles of the Bill Apiafi recalled that this Bill was read for the first time in this Chambers on the 27″ of July, 2022.
According to her the “Bill seeks to amend the National Centre for Women Development Act, Cap. N15 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 to among others correct observable drafting errors in the Principal Act, bring the functions of the Governing Council in conformity with other existing legislations and rename the Centre as the “Maryam Babaugida National Centre for Women Development” in appreciation of her Contribution towards National Development.
The Bill consist of 10 clauses Essentially, Clauses 2 & 3 seek to amend Section 1(1) and Section 2 (1) of the Principal Act by deleting the word “National” appearing in line 1 and line 2 respectively and inserting the name “Maryam Babangida”.
Clause 4 seeks to amend Section 5 of the Principal Act. This Section deals with the Functions of the Centre. Section 5 (2) of the Principal Act is amended by inserting new subsections (g), (h), (I), (j) and (k) seen below:
(g) Develop measurable parameters and strategic framework to stimulate creative and constructive ideas for enhancing the overall capacity of women.
(h) Develop capacity building on gender and governance to support the activities of women in leadership positions and responsibilities.
(i) Initiate campaigns that will support women in leadership position to become effective instrument towards achieving democratic and development sustainability.
(j) Network and build reliable partnership with development organizations to support such initiatives to engender effective participation of women in governance.
(k) Perform any other functions ancillary thereto, ’ These amendments are necessary to appropriately position the Centre for higher level development and foster International co-operation for the attainment of its core objective.
Clause 5 seeks to amend section 14 of the principal Act. Section 14 deals with the powers of the Governing Council (herein referred to as: “the Council”) to award contracts. In ‘the principal Act, the Centre is unable to award contracts in excess of N50,000,000 without the approval of the President. This hinders the Centre from performing its functions efficiently as procurement processes are stalled.
Section 14 is amended by substituting for the existing section 14, a new provision: “The Council shall have powers to award contract subject to the provisions of existing laws. Clauses 6, 7 and 8 seek to amend Sections 17; 18 and 19 which deal with the Functions – of the Council. This amendment aims to update the functions of the Council in line with current best practices.
The National Centre for Women Development (NCWD) is charged with the responsibility of stimulating consciousness towards the attainment of higher levels of social and economic development for Nigerian Women on all levels. It serves as a databank and facilitates the formulation of policies that impact Nigerian Women positively.
The Centre provides training in skill development and income generating activities. It also provides forum for guidance, counseling and the mobilization of women in both urban and rural areas.
I therefore argue that if Nigeria is to meet the sustainable development goal of “ensuring women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic and public life”, there is an urgent need ’ to address the fundamental issues facing the Centre and the first step to that is the passage of the Bill.
“Mr. President, my Distinguished Colleagues, the need for the legislature to be at the forefront of the fight for women empowerment and development can never be overemphasized, I therefore urge you to support this bill for further legislative action”, she concluded.