BY James Ume
In a conservative milieu where her gender is expected only to wear a lipstick, carry a handbag and speak softly from the background, she broke the contrived glass ceiling and now represents a bold, enlightened articulate voice for socio-economic and political emancipation of the Nigerian and African women. Meet Chief (Mrs.) Senator Nkechi Justina Nwaogu, Ugo Nwanyi Ndi Igbo, immediate past representative of Abia Central Senatorial District of Abia State at the national parliament, who turned a graceful 61 on the nation’s Democracy Day – May 29.
Just as her life story represents a significant statement by providence, her compelling, broad vision of life also demonstrates that dreams are indeed the seedlings of reality. Not surprisingly, this comely Amazon has broken numerous hurdles and become a beacon of inspiration for her challenged gender, on the continent.
But who really is Senator Nkechi Justina Nwaogu? First and perhaps most importantly, she is a lady of substance, whose interests transverse many important arenas of human endeavour with strong desire for success, special attributes for quality leadership and zeal for societal development and advancement.
She was born in on May 29, 1956 , in Umuapu, Isiala Ngwa South Local Government Area of Abia State, into the family of Elder Walter Wokocha and Gladys Wokocha of blessed memories. She had her First School Leaving Certificate in 1967 at Aba Township School and later attended Immaculate Heart Secondary School in 1975. Still questing, she left the shores of Nigeria having secured admission into the College of Printing, Elephant and Caslte London EI in 1979 where she obtained a Diploma in Printing Management.
Looking ahead, she enrolled into the Polytechnic of South Bank London in 1981 and obtained her Post Graduate Degree in Management Studies. She went further to bag an M.Sc degree in Management (Finance) from Brunel University in Uxbrigde Middlesex England in 1984. Presently, she is pursuing a Doctorate Degree in Policy Analysis and Financial Management.
While sojourning in England, Senator Nwaogu ventured into the corporate sectors of the economy where she meritoriously rendered uninterrupted five years of active service in various reputable establishments. Having acquired considerable experience in the financial sectors while in England, she returned to Nigeria in 1988 to hold various sensitive positions in Banking Sector.
Some of these include becoming a Credit Analyst with the International Merchant Bank PLC; Deputy Manager to Commerce Bank Ltd. and the Branch Manager of Diamond Bank PLC. Due to her unswerving resolve to see that Credits are made available to the Rural Active Poor, she established an Investment Company – Libra Investments Ltd, which has an unequalled record of providing credits to many rural traders and artisans for the development of their businesses.
At the professional level, she belongs to numerous outstanding bodies such as membership of the British Institute of Management since 1984. She is also a member Nigeria Institute of Management as well as a fellow of the Institute of Public Health California USA. She as well sits on the committee of Economic Policies and Budget Control ECOWAS.
She was the Deputy National President of the Nigeria Association of Women Entrepreneur (NAWE). Before that in 1997, she had co-founded the women in Action for Development (WIAFOD) a non-governmental organization that cater for the welfare of women who want to be in income generating activities. She is also the founder of Liberty Foundation, which is the organization responsible for coordinating her activities in her senatorial district and overlap in capacity building Financial Empowerment and Entrepreneurship development of the grass root.
This great daughter of Abia, Nigeria and Africa – between 1991-1993 was a member of the State Economic Advisory Board in Abia State and a Consultant to UNDP on Micro Finance.
Her political career dates as far back as 1998/1999 when she contested for Abia State governorship primaries on the platforms of UNCP and APP respectively.
As an embodiment of trust, honesty and integrity, she was the Deputy National Treasurer of ANPP between 1999 and 2002 and later the Ag. National Treasurer of ANPP. She was also the Secretary ANPP National Finance Committee and doubled as member of the prestigious elite making Board of Trustees of ANPP.
In 2003 she was overwhelmingly elected to the Federal House of Representatives as a member Representing, OsisiomaNgwa/Ugwunagbo/ Obingwa Federal Constituencies. While at the lower chamber of the National Assembly, she served in various House Committees and performed creditably well. Since there is no hiding place for a golden fish, this Amazon having demonstrated outstanding qualities she moved up the ladder and ran for the Senatorial seat under the then largest political party in Africa -The Peoples Democratic Party. Determined to battle in the men’s world and secured the overwhelming electoral victory of her people thereby emerging victorious as the Senator representing Abia Central Senatorial District at the upper legislative arm of the National Assembly where she became the Chairman, Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and Other Financial Institutions.
Senator Nwaogu was also a member of the Constitutional Review Committee. She sponsored the following Bills:- Public Borrowing Act Amendment Bill 2009, National Unity and Peace Corp (Establishment) Bill 2009 both of which passed the first reading respectively and Establishment of E-Payment Bill 2009. She has had the following motions to her credit: Over-enrollment in the Nigeria Universities, management of Dormant Accounts and its Disclosure in Banks Books.
At the Community Level, she put her leadership acumen to work; and as a true representative of her people Abia Central, then at the upper legislative Chambers of the National Assembly, this woman of substance within her first year in office embarked on the inspection of Federal roads that cut across her constituency, the result of which attracted federal interventions.
Also while a senator and as a way of ameliorating the sufferings of the members of her Senatorial District, she leaned on her Three Point Agenda namely;
Interest Free Micro Credit Scheme, Tertiary Institutions Scholarship Scheme and Skills Acquisition Scheme. In January 2010, she increased the number of beneficiaries of scholarship scheme to 50 including physically challenged undergraduate from her senatorial zone. She also gave N3 m to Three Co-operativeSocieties from the three LGA’s and also flagged off her Skill Acquisition Scheme in collaboration with the National Directorate of Employment (NDE) with 100 participants benefiting.
In line with the pursuit for computer literacy, she within the first quarter of her assumption of office at the senate distributed computer sets and accessories to many individuals, schools and government establishments. Among one of the recipients was the state media outfit the BCA Umuahia. There were a lot more interventions she pushed as senator.
In appreciation of her outstanding services to her community, church and nation, Senator (Mrs.) Nkechi J. Nwaogu has been rewarded with numerous outstanding awards and other forms of recognition. She is the Ugo Nwanyi Ndi Igbo, a title bestowed on her at Nri Aniocha L. G. A in Anambra State – the ancestral home of the Igbos by His Majesty Eze Obidiegwu Onyesoh on the 1010th Iguaro Ndigbo 2009 AD ceremony.
Again, she holds an outstanding Leadership award for Excellence of the International Innerwheel of Nigeria as well as an award of Excellence in Community Service by Rotary Club of Aba.
Lady Nwaogu also bagged an award as A Great Woman Achiever by the Umuahia Diocesan Council of Catholic Women Organisation in recognition of her contributions and support to the growth of the church and exemplary leadership, in addition to an award from Ngwa Women based in Los Angeles California USA. She is also a matron to many other women and youth organizations.
She is happily married to Nze Roland Nwaogu (Ph.D) and blessed with three lovely children and grand-children. As she turned 61 on May 29, clearly, the future holds a lot more for Ugo Nwanyi Ndi Igbo.