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2023: Amazons That May Shape 10th Senate

THEWILL APP ADS 2

Women have played great roles in the emergence of political leaders under the present democratic setting in Nigeria, but they have not been given their deserved recognition in terms of appointments and elective positions in the country.

It is on this note that many Nigerians have continued to agitate for more women’s inclusion in governance. However, this demand is being rejected by male politicians who keep relegating the women folk in politics to the back seat.

It would be recalled that all the five bills that were promoted to ensure gender equality were rejected during the constitution amendment exercise that was carried out by the National Assembly in 2021.

One of the bills sought to grant citizenship to foreign-born spouses of Nigerian women. Already, a Nigerian male’s foreign-born wife is automatically a Nigerian citizen.

Another bill sought to allocate 35 per cent of political positions based on appointment to women, while another legislation sought to create special seats for women in the National and State Assemblies.

The rejection of the bills resulted in protests as hundreds of women, led by civil society groups, laid siege to the National Assembly, carrying placards to express their grievances. They said that the National Assembly’s rejection of the bills clearly showed that it did not want progress in the country.

It is an indisputable fact that women are great stakeholders in the development project of any society. Globally, the issue of women marginalisation and low participation in governance and decision-making has been attracting a lot of attention from scholars.

It is also important to note that successive population Census figures in Nigeria have given the womenfolk an advantage over their male counterparts. For instance, the 2006 census figures showed that women constituted 49 percent of the Nigerian population.

Despite this, there has been a wide gap between men and women when one is looking at the political representation and leadership in the country.

As of today, the three major political parties, the All Progressives Congress (APC), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Labour Party (LP) have no female governorship candidates for the 2023 general election. It is also true that since the return of democratic rule in 1999, no state in the country has produced a female governor.

The Ninth National Assembly, which was inaugurated on Tuesday, June 11, 2019, consisted of 109 Senators and 360 members of the Federal House of Representatives. Out of the total 479 members of the National Assembly, only 19 were originally female members in the two chambers. But with the demise of a female senator, Rose Oko, the number had reduced to 18. In all, there are seven serving female Senators and 11 female members of the House of Representatives.

However, despite this gap between male and female politicians in political representation, some women have displayed tenacity of purpose and doggedness as they found their way into the Upper Chamber of the National Assembly.

While some of these lawmakers are active on the floor of the House, others are also prominent in the various committees they head or belong to.

The female Senators include, Betty Apiafi (PDP, Rivers), Eyakenyi Akon (PDP, Akwa Ibom), Aishatu Dahiru (APC, Adamawa) and Abiodun Olujimi (PDP).

Others are Oluremi Tinubu (APC, Lagos), Stella Oduah (PDP, Anambra), and Uche Ekwunife (PDP, Anambra).

However, of the seven senators, only three of them have the hope of coming back in June next year. Senator Oluremi Tinubu, who is on her third term representing Lagos Central Senatorial District, has chosen the option of backing her husband for the presidency of the country come May next year. She has been replaced by Hon. Wasiu Esinlokun, currently the Deputy Speaker of the Lagos state House of Assembly.

Senator Aishatu Dahiru will not return to the Senate as she has emerged as the APC governorship candidate in Adamawa State, while Eyakenyi Akon and Betty Apiafi’s names are not included in the list of candidates for the National Assembly election as released by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) recently.

Only three of the current female senators, Stella Oduah, Abiodun Olujimi and Uche Ekwuenife have the chance of returning to the Senate in June 2023, if they win the February 2023 Presidential/National Assembly election.

Senator Olujimi, who is representing Ekiti South Senatorial District of Ekiti State is on her second term and if she wins th next year’s election, she will be having a third term in the Senate.

Currently the Minority Leader in the Senate, Olujimi was recently appointed Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Aviation. She has assured Nigerians that through the National Assembly she will do her best to help find a lasting solution to the lingering crisis in the aviation sector.

Senator Stella Oduah, representing Anambra North, is in her second term in the Senate. Today, she is the best performing Senator with the highest number of bills, while Uche Ekwuenife, who was twice in the House of Representatives (2007 and 2011), is currently representing Anambra Central Senatorial District.

She is the first lawmaker from the South-East to chair the prestigious Senate Committee on Petroleum Resources (Downstream). Her admirers also said her generosity to the needy, indigent and less-privileged extends beyond her constituency, Anambra Central Senatorial District and Anambra State.

Abiodun Olujimi (Ekiti South)

Abiodun Olujimi was born on December 25, 1958. She is a senator representing Ekiti South Senatorial District of Ekiti State and current Minority Leader in the Senate. She was a member of the Board of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

Olujimi was born in Omuo- Ekiti and attended the Nigerian Institute of Journalism where she obtained a Diploma in 1976. She also bagged degrees in Political Science, Public Relations and Marketing from the University of Abuja.

She joined politics in 1997 as the National Publicity Secretary of the extinct NCPN and moved to the All Peoples Congress after the extinction of her former party, and still became the National Publicity Secretary in All Peoples Congress.

In 2002, she joined the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and this was the beginning of her great achievements in politics. 2003 was the year she was appointed the Special Assistant to the Executive Governor of Ekiti State. She became the Deputy Governor of Ekiti State with Governor Ayo Fayose in 2005. Olujimi attained other great heights in politics; from being the Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure in her state to a Director of Women Affairs.

In 2015, she contested for a seat in the Senate on the platform of the PDP and won. She was also appointed as the leader of the party in Ekiti State in November 2018.

In the 2019 general election, she initially lost her seat to the candidate of the APC, Prince Adedayo Clement Adeyeye. However, the National Assembly Election Tribunal and the Appeal Court later declared her winner of the Ekiti South Senatorial District. Consequently, she was sworn in by the Senate President on November 14, 2019. In 2020, Olujimi was involved in a verbal altercation with the former Governor of Ekiti state, Ayo Fayose, where she accused him of manipulating the electoral process at the Ekiti State PDP Ward Congress.

Senator Uche Ekwunife

Uche Lillian Ekwunife was born on January12, 1970. She is a member of the 9th National Assembly representing Anambra Central Senatorial District. She is known as one of the most active female senators in the country.

Ekwunife attended the University of Calabar and graduated with a bachelor degree in Business and Accounting in 1993. She went on to earn her MBA degree from Nnamdi Azikiwe University in 2002.

Ekwunife had a career in banking where she rose to be an area manager. She contested in the Anambra governorship election twice and lost. She was elected as a member of the Federal House of Representatives in 2007 for Anambra’s Anaocha/Njikoka/Dunukofia constituency.

She was one of 11 women elected in 2007, who were re-elected in 2011 when the lower house was nearly 95 per cent male. Other women elected included Juliet Akano; Olajumoke Okoya-Thomas; Mulikat Adeola –Akande; Abike Dabiri- Erewa; Nkiru Onyeagocha; Nnena Elendu-Ukeje; Beni Lar; Khadija Bukar Abba –Ibrahim; Elizabeth Ogbaga and Peace Uzoamaka Nnaji.

In 2015, she was elected to the Senate. She was one of the six women elected to the 8th National Assembly. The other women were Rose Oko, Stella Oduah; Fatimat Raji-Rasak; Oluremi Tinubu and Binta Garba.

Ekwunife had won the 2015 election by switching from one political party to the other. Because of this her election was challenged and in December 2015 her seat was declared vacant. Ekwunife was unable to get the support of former political party The All Progressive Grand Alliance, (APGA) for the bye -election and as a result Victor Umeh was elected as Senator.

She won the 2019 Anambra State senatorial elections under the platform of the PDP representing Anambra Central Senatorial District defeating her 2015 rival, Victor Umeh who sought reelection

Stella Oduah

Stella Oduah was born on January 5, 1962. She is currently representing Anambra North Senatorial District of Anambra and she was a former Minister of Aviation. She was confirmed to the ministerial post and sworn in on July 2; 2011and was deployed to the Ministry of Aviation on July 4, 2011. She was relieved of her duties as Minister of Aviation on February 12, 2014. She was also 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 elected to the Senate to represent Anambra North Senatorial District .She was one of the only seven women elected to the 8th Senate.

Oduah was re-elected to a second term in the Senate in 2019.