The National Assembly has a total of 469 lawmakers elected from all the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory. Of the lot, only 18 are women; seven in the Senate and 11 in the House of Representatives, in a country of about 200 million people. This low number indicates an worrisome decline in women participation in politics and far cry from the affirmation action principle. SUNDAY ISUWA and KAUTHAR ANUMBA-KHALEEL report.
Out of the 109 Senators in the Red Chamber of the 9th National Assembly, only seven are women and, strangely, just one was elected from the entire 19 northern states of the federation that make up the North-West, North-Central and North-East political zones.
Interestingly, in the South-East, Anambra alone produced the only two female Senators for the entire region, while in the South-West, only one female Senator from Lagos State made it to the federal parliament.
The remaining three female Senators are from the South-South states of Akwa Ibom, Cross River and Rivers.
The National Assembly in 1999 had three (2.8 per cent) female Senators. In 2003, they were four (3.7 per cent). In 2007, the National Assembly had nine (8.3 per cent) female senators.
In 2011, the number declined to seven (6.4 per cent) while in 2015, the 8th National Assembly had the same number of seven (6.4 per cent) female Senators, a statistics that portrayed Nigeria as a gender insensitive country when it comes to political participation.
Senegal, a country that is working hard to close the gap between male and female participation in politics, has a standing rule that the deputy to a candidate in any elective position comes from the opposite sex.
Also, five of the top 15 countries with the highest number of female representation in politics are African.
They are Rwanda (64 per cent), Senegal (42.7 per cent), South Africa (41.7 per cent), Namibia (41.3 per cent) and Mozambique (39.6 per cent).
Observers, however, have attributed violence, high cost of electioneering campaigns and other logistics challenges as the reasons behind the inability of women to participate in politics despite their population.
Against this backdrop, LEADERSHIP Friday presents the women who made it to the 9th Senate and House of Representatives chambers:
Born on September 21, 1960, Senator Oluremi Shade Tinubu is married to the national leader of the APC and former governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. Remi is the only female senator from the entire South-West in the 9th Assembly. She represents Lagos Central senatorial district and this is her third term in the Upper Chamber.
Akon Etim Eyakenyi
Akon Etim Eyakenyi is a former Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development during the regime of President Goodluck Jonathan.
She was born on February 24, 1960 in Urue-Offong/Oruko of Akwa Ibom state.
Eyakenyi represents Akwa Ibom South senatorial district. She was elected into the Senate during the 2019 general elections as a first-timer.
A former minister of Aviation, Senator Oduah was born on January 5, 1962. She has been participating in politics from the background but became active in the political campaign of former President Goodluck Jonathan, where she served as his campaign’s director of Administration and Finance.
In 2015, she was one of the 109 senators elected to the 8th Assembly and has also been re-elected in 2019.
Born in 1970 and educated at the University of Calabar and Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka respectively, Ekwunife was a member of the 8th Senate but her election was declared null and void in favour of Victor Umeh.
She contested again in 2019 and won the senatorial election to represent Anambra Central.
Before coming to the Senate, Rita Okoji Oko was a member of the House of Representatives under the platform of the PDP, representing Yala/Ogoja Federal Constituency in the 7th Assembly. She was elected into office as the first female representative from her constituency in 2011.
The graduate of University of Port Harcourt now represents Cross River North Senatorial District in the 9th Assembly.
Aishatu Dahiru Ahmed
Also known as Binani, Aishatu Dahiru Ahmed was born on August 11, 1971. She previously represented Yola North/Yola South/Girei federal constituency in the House of Representatives before coming to the Senate.
From 2011 to 2015, she represented the same constituency in the lower chamber of the National Assembly under the platform of the PDP in the 7th Assembly.
She contested the primary and won under the platform of the APC. Political pundits say the pre-election exercise that brought her was the only decent primary election conducted by her party in the three senatorial districts in 2018.
A trained engineer from the University of Southampton, UK, Binani is the only female Senator from the entire Northern region.
Betty Jocelyne Apiafi
Born on February 19, 1962, Betty Jocelyne Apiafi is an economist, retired banker, educationist and politician. In the 2007 general elections, she was elected into the House of Representatives under the platform of the PDP, and she represented Abua/Odual/Ahoada East federal constituency. She was subsequently re-elected in the 2011 and 2015 elections.
In the 2019 general elections, she was elected to the Senate under the same platform of the PDP to represent Rivers West senatorial district. She has the record of being the first female Senator from Rivers State.
A daughter of former governor of Plateau State, Solomon Lar, Beni Lar was born December 8, 1967 and studied Law at the University of Jos. Representing Langtang North/South Federal Constituency of Plateau State, Lar was first elected to the House of Representatives in 2007 on the platform of the PDP but defected to the APC in 2018. She served as the chairman, House Committees on Women Affairs, Human Rights and Science and Technology in previous Assemblies.
Lar is an advocate for women’s right and has supported emergency funding for the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP); increased penalties for child abuse and creation of a national child protection and enforcement.
Lar is one of the two female lawmakers from the North-Central region in the Lower House.
Born 50 years ago, Nkeiruka Onyejeocha studied at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, where she obtained her a diploma in Social Work/Community Development in 1988 and obtained a Bachelor’s Degree. She holds a master’s Degree in International Affairs and Diplomacy from Imo State University and was recently called to the Nigerian Bar. The Abia-born lawmaker, who represents Isikwuato/Umunneochi federal constituency, was first elected into the House in 2007 under the platform of the PDP. She is a former executive transition chairman, Umunneochi Local Government Area and commissioner for Resource Management and Manpower Development in Abia State.
In the 7th and 8th Assemblies, the legislator was the chairman of the committees on Women in Parliament and Aviation respectively. Onyejeocha in 2018 defected from the PDP and joined the ruling APC under which she vied for a re-election for her seat and won. Despite being a new member of the party, Nkeiruka declared her intention to run for the position of the speaker of the 9th House of Representatives but eventually stepped down for Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila. She is now the Deputy Chief Whip of the House.
The Gombe State lawmaker was born on December 18, 1963, in Kaduna State.
Aisha Jibril Dukku holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Education from the Bayero University, Kano.
An educationist whose career spans 20 years, Dukku has held various positions in the education sector and also served as a junior minister of Education between 2007 and 2010 under the administration of the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua. She was a member, Board of Trustees of the APC and was first elected a member of the federal legislature to represent Dukku/Nafada Federal Constituency in 2015 on the party’s platform. She was chairman House committee on Electoral Matters and Political Parties. Her legislative interests include, girl-child education, youth empowerment poverty alleviation and skills acquisition.
Khadijah Bukar Abba-Ibrahim
The 52-year-old lawmaker is from the family of the late Waziri Ibrahim. She has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Studies and Sociology from Poe Hampton institute of Higher Education, an affiliate of the University of Surrey, UK.
The wife of an ex-governor and Senator, Bukar Abba Ibrahim, Khadija was first elected member, House of Representatives in 2007 to represent Damaturu/Gujba/Gulani/Tarmuwa Federal Constituency of Yobe State. She was re-elected in 2011 and 2015. Prior to joining the legislature, Ibrahim was was commissioner of Transport and Energy, Yobe State in 2004. In the previous Assemblies, she served as deputy chairman, House Committees on Rural Development and Communications, and chairman, Committee on Rural Privatisation and Commercialisation. In 2016, the lawmaker was appointed minister of State, Foreign Affairs, by President Muhammadu Buhari. She resigned the position in 2018 to seek re-election into the House.
A graduate of the University of Port Harcourt, the second term lawmaker was born in 1970 and hails from Buguma, Asari Toru local government area of Rivers State. She represents Akuku-Toru/Asari Toru Federal Constituency on the platform of the PDP.
Before her election into the House in 2015, Goodhead had previously contested elections for her position on three occasions but lost. The outspoken legislator and activist became popular for confronting masked operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS) when they laid siege to the National Assembly in 2018.
She is the sister of ex-militant and leader of the Niger Delta People’s Volunteer force, NDPVF, Asari Dokubo.
A former beauty queen, Linda Ikpeazu was born on June 22, 1966. She represents Onitsha North/Onitsha South, Anambra State. She first served as a member of the House between 1999 and 2003 on the platform of the then All Peoples Party (APP). She was re-elected 16 years later in 2015. Linda had her early education in Onitsha, Anambra State. She holds two Bachelor Degrees in Communications and Law and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration. She is currently a member of the PDP and one of the lawmakers suspended by the party over the minority leadership tussle in the House. Ikpeazu was at the forefront of the emergence of incumbent Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila.
Born June 20, 1975, the first term lawmaker attended the Federal Polytechnic, Ede, Osun State. She later attended the Tower College of Technology, where she obtained a certificate in Education in 2008. She also obtained a Post Graduate Diploma in Management Studies at Ladoke Akintola University. She is former special adviser to former Osun State governor on Culture and Tourism. Oluga was elected to the House in the 2019 elections as the candidate of the APC. She represents Ayedaade/Irewole/Isokan Federal Constituency of Osun State.
Onuh Onyeche Blessing
Onuh Onyeche Blessing is the daughter of former Senate President David Mark. She represents Ohimini/Otukpo in Benue State as a new member in the Green Chambers. She defeated her uncle, Johnson Egli Ahubi, who had beaten her to clinch the ticket of the PDP for the same constituency, forcing her to defect to the All Progressive Grand Alliance.
Onanuga Adewunmi Oriyomi
Despite being the only female candidate in the 2019 general elections in her constituency, Onanuga Adewunmi Oriyomi went on to win the elections. She contested and won under the APC.
Hon Tolulope Tiwalola Akande -Sadipe
The granddaughter of the first Alafin of Oyo, Ladigbolu Tolulope Tiwalola Akande-Sadipe, was elected as the representative for Oluyole federal constituency, Oyo State at the 2019 general elections.
Zainab Gimba, a member of the APC, defeated four men, including an incumbent, to win a seat to represent Bama/Ngala/ Kala-Balge federal constituency in Borno State.
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