The participation of women in politics has always been a contentious issue in Nigeria. Consisting of about 45% of the entire population, women are underrepresented particularly in politics and governance.
The low participation and representation of women in politics and governance have continually made stakeholders call for more participation of women in politics as much as creating a safe space for women to grow into top-ranking political positions.
The Ninth Assembly which was inaugurated by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd), was inaugurated on June 11, 2019, is already winding up its activities.
Out of Parliament’s 469 seats, 109 Senators, and 360 members of the House of Representatives, women only occupy 21 seats; eight in the Senate and 13 in the House of Representatives in the Ninth Assembly.
Today, March 8 set aside as International Women’s Day, an annual event that celebrates and recognises the achievements of women, this year the theme is1 #EmbraceEquity, The PUNCH celebrates women calling the shots in the Ninth Assembly.
1. Oluremi Tinubu
Oluremi Tinubu is the wife of the President-elect, Bola Tinubu, and the senator representing Lagos Central.
After serving as the first lady of Lagos state, she moved to the Red Chamber in 2011. Her activities and motions directly point to where her principles lie; Youths and Lagos states.
Tinubu who is the chairman of the Senate Committee on Communications has sponsored bills like Criminal Code Act (Amendment) Bill, 2019 and Lagos State Special Economic Assistance Programme (Establishment) Bill, 2019.
2. Aishatu Dahiru
Aishatu Dahiru popularly known as Binani is a major voice in challenging stereotypes in politics and governance. She is the governorship candidate of the All Progressive Congress in Adamawa. If she wins, the March 25 poll, she would be the first elected female governor in Nigeria.
To clinch the governorship ticket of her party, Dahiru who is currently the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Sustainable Development Goals, polled 430 votes to defeat her closest contestant, Nuhu Ribadu, the pioneer Executive Chairman of Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, who got 288 votes.
Binanni didn’t just get there by mere coincidence but has worked her way from the bottom all through to the top. Her stint in the National Assembly dates back to the 7th National Assembly where she represented Yola North, Yola South and Girei Federal Constituency of Adamawa State from 2011 to 2015 in the House of Representatives, before moving to the Senate.
3. Uche Ekwenife
Uche Ekwenife has become a household name due to her outspokenness, and vibrancy in the National Assembly.
Ekwenife left banking as an Area manager before joining politics and became a member of the House of Representatives in 2007.
She was elected into the House to represent Anaocha/Njikoka/Dunukofia constituency in Anambra State. A position she held for eight years; 2007 to 2015 before moving to the Red Chamber.
Although she won the Anambra Central senatorial seat in 2015, due to issues arising from switching political parties, she lost the seat to Victor Umeh. However, undaunting, Ekwenife came back to the Senate in 2019 under the Peoples Democratic Party.
Ekwenife who is currently the Chairman of, the Senate Committee on Science and Technology has moved quite a number of motions and sponsored some important bills including, the 1999 Constitution (Alteration) Bill 2020, Criminal Code Act (Amendment) Bill 2020, National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion Act (Amendment) Bill 2019, Penal Code Act (Amendment) Bill, 2019, Public Procurement Act (Amendment) Bill, 2019.
If she had got a seat in the 10th Assembly, she stood a high chance of competing for one of the principal or presiding offices.
4. Betty Apiafi
Senator Apiafi, retired as a bank manager before going into full-time politics. Under the PDP, she served as a House of Representatives Member for Abua/Odual-Ahoada East Federal Constituency of Rivers State from 2007 to 2019 before moving to the Senate where she is currently the deputy chairman, the Senate Committee on Health and banking respectively.
Apiafi who represents Rivers West is one of the audacious and daring voices in the ninth Assembly.
She has openly declared her stance against injustice and bad governance at the plenary a couple of times. One such instance was in December when she withstood the Senate president, Ahmad Lawan and restrained him from passing the president’s N22.7tn Ways and Means Advance request.
At the peak of insecurity in Nigeria last year, Apiafi was one of the first senators to stand and chant ‘Buhari must go’ during the plenary. This action which snowballed into threatening to call for the president’s impeachment moved the defiant Major General Muhammadu Buhari (Retd.) to immediately tackle the security challenges in the country.
5. Biodun Olujimi
A former governor of Ekiti is no newbie in politics and governance. Known for her eloquence and fluent articulation as one of the women who are calling the shots in the ninth senate.
Olujimi crossed from the Executive into the legislature to represent the Ekiti South senatorial district and has remained a relevant voice for women’s emancipation in political participation and demography, by reintroducing the gender equality bill. The bill was first rejected in March 2016, when some lawmakers argued that the Nigerian Constitution was clear on the rights of all citizens whether male or female. The bill is titled, ‘Gender and Equal Opportunity Bill, 2019’.
When four gender bills were turned down by the lawmakers, Olujimi went a step further by visiting the wives of her male colleagues to help lobby their husbands to accept the gender equality bills.
It wouldn’t be a gainsay to note that Olujimi who currently heads the Senate Committee on Aviation is one of the most experienced female politicians in Nigeria.
6. Stella Oduah
Former minister of Aviation under the Goodluck Jonathan administration currently represents the people of Anambra North at the Ninth Assembly.
Known not just for her white beautiful flowing gowns, she is currently the senator with the highest number of sponsored bills. Some of her over 50 bills include the Private Hospitals Regulation Bill 2019, Marriage Act (Repeal and Re-enactment) Bill 2019, Nigerian Latin Village lbadan (Est) Bill 2019, Protection of Personal Information Bill, 2019, National Religious Equity Commission (Est.etc), Bill 2019, Private Hospitals Regulation Bill, 2019, South East Development Commission (Est. etc.) Bill, 2019, Constituency Projects (Budgetary Provisions) Bill, 2019, and Integrated Rural Development Agency (Est. etc) Bill, 2019, amongst others.
She also moved a motion alongside five other Senators on the need to establish a Visionary Budget-Driven National Planning Framework for Nigeria.
7. Nkeiruka Onyejeocha
Hon. Nkeiruka Onyejeocha is a ranking and active lawmaker in the House of Representatives.
She started her career as a lawmaker when she was first elected member of the House for Isuikwuato/Umunneochi federal constituency of Abia State in 2007, and later re-elected in 2015 and 2019.
She is a top voice on the floor of the Green chamber and has sponsored bills and motions on topical and relevant national issues in the House.
Some of the bills she sponsored include, National Youth Service Corps Act (Amendment) Bill 2019, the Nigerian Assets Management Agency (Establishment) Bill 2019, Payment Systems Management Bill 2019, Peoples Bank of Nigeria Act (Repeal) Bill, 2019, Psychiatric Hospitals Management Board Act (Amendment) Bill, 2019, Related Products (Registration, Etc.) Act (Amendment) Bill, 2019.
8. Olukemi Oluga
Hon Olukemi Oluga, representing Ayedaade/Irewole/Isokan Federal Constituency of Osun State is another active lawmaker.
Having served as Special Adviser on Tourism and Culture under the administration of Rauf Aregbesola in Osun State. She joined the parliament in 2019.
She’s currently the Chairman, House Committee on Women in Parliament and has continued to project issues on women and youths.
Some of her bills include the Women’s Representation in Legislative Houses Bill, 2020; Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (Alteration) Bill, 2020 (HB. 796); Federal College of Education, Gbongan (Establishment) Bill, 2020 and Bill on Price Control Act (Amendment) Bill, 2020.
9. Tolulope Akande-Sadipe
She is also another brilliant active voice in the Ninth parliament particularly for her tough stance while engaging the executive during committee meetings
She was elected as the representative for Oluyole federal constituency, Oyo State at the 2019 general election and currently chairs the House Committee on Diaspora.
Sadipe is not to toy with when highlighting women who have been consistent in the fight against human trafficking, organ trafficking and maltreatment of Nigerians in the Diaspora
She moved some motions including that on the need to release abused Nigerian women in Lebanon prevented from returning home, amendment of a motion to tackle sexual harassment of children and minors, Amendment of a motion on the issue of insecurity in Zamfara State to be all-inclusive across the nation. Other legislative interventions by Sadipe include her contribution at plenary on the Issue of Xenophobia, where she urged the federal government to create additional airlifting opportunities to evacuate Nigerian citizens, who are stranded in South Africa.
10. Blessing Onuh
Onuh is the daughter of former Senate President David Mark, who defeated her uncle Johnson Egli Ahubi to become the representative for the Otupo/Ohimini federal constituency in Benue State in 2019.
As a lawmaker in the Ninth House, she has sponsored some motions including one on the need to tackle the assault and rape of minors and a motion on the urgent need to investigate the abandonment of Ahmadu Bello way (federal road) in Otukpo, federal constituency, Benue State.