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Senate: Women Still In Minority

Paul Yovo writes on the poor women representation in the National Assembly

The result of the just concluded general elections in the country has not shown improved women representation in elective positions in the country. So far, eight women made it to the 109-member senate as opposed to seven elected in 2011. Sixty of the senators have been elected on the APC platform while the PDP has got only 49 elected members.

Three of the eight female-senators are of the APC: Oluremi Tinubu, who is a ranking member of the Red Chamber from the Lagos Central Senatorial District; the incumbent Speaker of the Oyo State House of Assembly, Alhaja Monsurat Sunmonu; and Binta Masi Garba from Adamawa North.

The five other women are from the PDP. They will be joining the Upper Chamber of the National Assembly afresh. Anambra and Ekiti states produced two each and the other is from Cross River State. Those from Anambra are: House of Representatives member, Hon. Uche Ekwunife (Central) and the former aviation minister, Mrs. Stella Oduah.

The two elected Senators from Ekiti are Abiodun Olujimi, (South), who was Governor Ayodele Fayose’s deputy from 2003 to October 16, 2006, when they were impeached by 24 of the 26-members of the House of Assembly, and Fatima Raji-Rasaki (Central), a House of Representatives member between 2003 and 2007. Fatima is the wife of the former military administrator of Oyo and Lagos states, Brig-Gen. Raji Rasaki (rtd). The fifth female PDP senator-elect is Rose Okoh, Cross River (North). She has been indisposed since her nomination as the PDP candidate.

She did not participate in the campaigns. Senator Tinubu: is the current senator representing Lagos Central. Born in 1960, she had her secondary education at Our Lady of Apostles Secondary School, Ijebu-Ode. She obtained National Certificate of Education in Botany and Zoology from the Adeyemi College of Education and a Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Ife. She became the First Lady of Lagos State when her husband, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, was elected governor.

She won the senate seat first in 2011 election under the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), now defunct. Stella Oduah: She was born on January 5, 1962. She is to represent Anambra North. She was Minister of Aviation from July 2011 to February 2014. Oduah studied for her Bachelors degree in Accounting in the United States. She worked at the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation briefly as well before venturing into politics. Monsurat Sunmonu, who is to represent Oyo Central in the senate, is currently the Speaker of the Oyo State House of Assembly. She became the first female Speaker in the history of Oyo State on the 10th of June 2011.

Sunmonu was born on April 9, 1959 in Oyo town, Oyo State. She had her primary education at Children’s Boarding School, Oshogbo. Binta Masi Garba was born on 17 April 1967 in Kaduna to Muslim parents. She is the Senator-elect of Adamawa North Senatorial District. She was the Adamawa State chairman of the APC and the first female state chairman of a registered major political party in Nigeria. She was elected into Federal House of Representatives three times from 1999 – 2011.

She is the only female Senator-elect in North Eastern Nigeria in 2015. Uche Ekwunife: Born eleven months after the Nigerian civil war which ended officially on Jan. 12, 1970, Hon. Ekwunife   passed through primary and secondary schools in Onitsha, her place of birth. She obtained a Bachelor of Science honours degree in Business Education/Accounting from University of Calabar (UNICAL) in 1989. The next year she married her heartthrob, Larry Ekwunife, a businessman.

Soon after, she secured an employment with Equatorial Trust Bank Ltd where she served briefly and moved over to Standard Trust Bank in Onitsha as a Business Officer and two years later was elevated to the rank of Branch Manager in 1998; Area Manager Awka in 2002, and Head, Private Banking Unit in Abuja in 2003.

Rose Okoji Oko, (PDP, Ogoja/Yala), is one of the few amazons from Northern Cross River and has remained consistent in public service for about two decades. Born on September 27, 1956 in Okpoma, Yala Local Government Area of Cross River State, Dr. Oko had her primary education at the famous Holy Child Secondary School, Mount Carmel, Igoli, Ogoja and obtained the WASC Division One in 1974 before proceeding to acquire a Higher School Certificate from the Federal School of Arts and Science, Ogoja in 1976. Her quest for knowledge propelled her into the University of Calabar, where she obtained BA (Hons) Linguistics and an MA Linguistics in 1981 and 1984, respectively. Oko obtained a Ph.D (Linguistics) from the University of Port Harcourt in 1990.

A frontline politician and member of the PDP, Dr. Oko has been in the political circle since the return of democracy in 1999. Mrs. Biodun Christine Olujimi, a broadcaster, journalist, political scientist, administrator and Public Relations Practitioner was nominated into the Board of the NCC by His Excellency Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan late 2011. A seasoned politician, she holds a diploma in Journalism, a degree in Political Science, a postgraduate degree in Public Relations and Marketing. She holds a certificate in IT with emphasis on web Development from the Michigan State University, USA.

Biodun worked at different times with the Nigerian Tribune, Nigerian Posts and Telecommunication, Nigerian Television Authority, the Delta Steel Company Ovwian Aladja, Reflex Concept and DBN Television. She has been National Publicity Secretary of the National Centre Party of Nigeria, All People’s Party and the All Nigerian People’s Party. She was a Special Assistant to the Governor of Ekiti State, Member of the Federal House of Representatives, Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure and Deputy Governor in Ekiti State. She was an active participant in the Presidential Primary Election where she held the position of Director Women Affairs. Over the years, Nigerian women have continued to record very poor performances in elective political offices. This is largely due to the sentimental attachment on feminine gender.

Although they have been playing crucial role in political life of the country, this has not yielded results in terms of their performances when it comes to elective offices. Although women are currently participating more actively in politics than ever before, they are besieged with challenges of which discrimination is more rife. The psyche of the Nigerian man is often predominated by a chauvinistic disposition that decision-making is exclusively for the menfolk while women are to be instructed on what to do. The preoccupation that women play the number two role at homes is playing itself out in their political life.

With her 36 states, the Federal Capital Territory and 774 local government areas, Nigeria is believed to have over 800 women who enjoy positions of eminence as ‘first among equals’. Although there is no constitutional provision for the office of the first lady, Nigeria has paraded several First Ladies and many amongst them played roles that made them so prominent.

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