The lawmaker representing Ekiti South Constituency at the Senate, Biodun Olujimi, has kicked against the purported move to grant underaged married girls the right to vote.
The National Assembly Joint Committee on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had reportedly recommended that young girls who are married should be given voting rights.
Chairman of the Senate Committee on INEC, Kabiru Gaya, had said the recommendation is a unanimous decision by the joint panel.
Gaya had said, “The joint committee has proposed a review of the section of the Electoral Act that pegged the eligibility age of voters at 18 years.
“The joint committee has proposed that if a lady who is not up to 18 years is married, she should be considered to be mature enough and be eligible to vote.”
But in an interview with SaharaReporters on Thursday, Olujimi said it is better to stick to the minimum age (18 years) recognised by the Nigerian constitution rather than giving voting rights to underage married girls.
She said, “The fact that they are married does not make them adults. That is what I believe. Even if you get married at 13, you can’t be said to be an adult even though you have gone through some experiences for adults. We should stick to our minimum age which I believe is good for everyone.”
The Minority Leader at the Upper Chamber argued that maintaining the extant minimum voting age would discourage early marriage and prevent all the risks associated with it.
She said, “It will help us reduce Vesicovaginal fistula (VVF) and all the problems associated with early marriages. We all know how dangerous it is, we all know how we risk the lives of our young ones when we take them too early. So, if they know they won’t be able to vote until they are of a particular age, maybe they will be patient enough to wait before they get married.”
The Senator, however, explained that the issue had not been debated during plenary, saying, “It’s one of those side comments about the amendment of the constitution. It wasn’t debated, I was on the floor and I have not heard that. I also want to take it as one of those debates going on so that people can amend the constitution but right now, we have not deliberated on it.”
SaharaReporters, New York