Meet The 17 Women Who Made It To 10th National Assembly

National Assembly Complex

Ahead of the inauguration of the 10th National Assembly in June, 17 females who won during the February 25 parliamentary elections have received their certificates of return to be part of the Red and Green Chambers, Daily Trust Saturday reports.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has so far presented certificates of return to 98 senators-elect out of the 109 seats in the upper legislative chamber, while 325 House of Representatives-elect have received theirs out of the 360 seats in the lower chamber.

INEC has declared elections inconclusive in some of the senatorial districts and federal constituencies due to some factors.

Daily Trust Saturday reports that while three females won at the Senate, 14 won at the House of Representatives, making a total of 17 female lawmakers in the 10th National Assembly.

The above outcome showed a great setback for women representations at the Senate as their number dropped significantly from 8 in the 9th Senate to only 3 in the incoming 10th Senate. However, in the House of Representatives, the number of females slightly increased from the current 13 to 14.

Daily Trust Saturday reports that a move to provide 111 special seats for women in the National Assembly to bridge the wide gender gaps in the parliament failed as a bill proposed to that effect was not voted on during the last constitutional amendments.

The winners

At the Senate, Banigo Ipalibo Harry of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), won the West senatorial district of Rivers; Ireti Heebah Kingibe of the Labour Party (LP) won the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) seat while Adebule Idiat Oluranti of the All Progressives Congress (APC) won the Lagos West senatorial seat.

In the House of Representatives, of the 14 females who won, 7 are new faces, while the remaining 7 are returning lawmakers.

The new faces that won include Nnabuife Chinwe Clara of the Young Progressive Party (YPP), who won the Orumba North/Orumba South federal constituency of Anambra State; Orogbu Obiageli of the LP won the Awka North/Awka South federal constituency; Gwacham Maureen Chime of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) won the Oyi/Ayamelum federal constituency of Anambra; Regina Akume of the APC won the Gboko/Tarka federal constituency of Benue; Ibori-Suenu Erhiatake of the PDP won Ethiope East/Ethiope West constituency of Delta State, while Fatima Talba of APC won Nangre/Potiskum constituency of Yobe State.

Others are Onuh Onyeche Blessing of the APC, who clinched Otukpo/Ohimini constituency of Benue State; Zainab Gimba of APC won Bama/Ngala/Kala-Balge constituency of Borno State; Beni Butmak Lar of  the PDP won Lantang North/Lantang South constituency of Plateau State, while Goodhead Boma of the PDP won Akuku Toru/Asari Toru constituency of Rivers State.

Also among winners are Khadija Bukar Abba Ibrahim of the APC, who won Damaturu/Gujba/Gulani/Tarmuwa constituency of Yobe State; Onuoha Miriam Odinaka of the APC won Isiala Mbano/Okigwe/Onuimo constituency of Imo State and Adewunmi Ariyomi Onanuga of the APC won Ikenne/Shagamu/Remo North constituency of Ogun State.

All 8 incumbent senators not returning

Meanwhile, none of the eight female senators who were in the 9th Senate would make it to the 10th Senate because they either lost their elections or did not contest at all. Others opted for higher positions.

Those who lost their re-election bids are Senator Biodun Olujimi (Ekiti South); Senator Stella Oduah (Anambra North); and Senator Lilian Ekwunife (Anambra Central).

Senator Betty Apiafi (Rivers West) did not contest for primaries and was replaced with the state’s deputy governor, Banigo Ipalibo Harry, who has gone ahead to win the election.

Senators Oluremi Tinubu (Lagos Central), Senator Nora Ladi Dadu’ut (Plateau South) and Senator Akon Etim Eyakenyi (Akwa Ibom South) did not seek re-election.

On her part, Senator Aishatu Dahiru Ahmed (Binani) opted to contest for Adamawa governorship.

6 incumbent female Reps not returning

While the House of Representatives has gained the entry of seven new female lawmakers into the 10th House, six female others in the current assembly will, however, not make it back, either because they lost at the main election or during the primaries.

The affected lawmakers include Nkeiruka Onyejeocha (Abia); Lynda Chuba Ikpeazu (Anambra); Ogunlola Omowunmi Olubunmi (Ekiti); Aishatu Jibril Dukku (Gombe); Taiwo Oluga (Osun) and Tolulope Akande-Sadipe (Oyo).

Faces of new entrants

Banigo Ipalibo Harry

Dr Ipalibo, a medical doctor and the current deputy governor of Rivers State, was born to the Harry family of Obuama in Degema Local Government Area of Rivers State on December 20, 1952. She made history as the first female deputy governor of Rivers State since May 29, 2015. She attended Queens College, Yaba, Lagos between 1964 and 1968 and returned to the same school between 1969 and 1970 for a high school result.

She proceeded to the University of Ibadan and obtained a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) and thus qualified as a medical doctor in 1976.

Idiat Oluranti Adebule

She was born on November 27, 1970. Adebule served as the 15th deputy governor of Lagos State and the sixth woman to occupy the office from 2015 to 2019.

Ireti Heebah Kingibe

Ireti is the former wife of a one-time Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babagana Kingibe.

Born on June 2, 1954, Ireti is the younger sister to Ajoke Mohammed, the wife of a former Nigerian head of state, Murtala Muhammed.

She schooled in Queens College, Lagos, Washington Irving High School, and the University of Minnesota, United States, where she bagged a degree in Civil Engineering.

Ireti worked as a quality control engineer at the Bradley Precast Concrete Inc from 1978 to 1979.

She left to join the Minnesota Department of Transportation Design unit, where she worked as an engineer between 1979 and 1991.

Ireti served as a project supervisor for the Directorate of Works at the Nigerian Air Force station in Ikeja, Lagos between 1981 and 1982, after completing the mandatory one-year national youth service.

She entered partisan politics in 1990 when she joined the defunct Social Democratic Party (SDP). She was appointed as the adviser to the party’s national chairman.

Regina Akume

Regina Akume of the APC won the Gboko/Tarka House of Representatives seat. She is the wife of George Akume, a former senator and current Minister of Inter-Governmental Affairs and Special Duties.

Regina secured 47,086 votes to beat the incumbent, John Dyegh of the PDP, who polled 24,639.

Blessing Onyeche Onuh

Onuh Onyechi Blessing, who won the Otukpo/Ohimini federal constituency of Benue State, is a daughter of former Senate President David Mark.

Beni Lar

Beni Lar is the daughter of a foremost politician or one time governor of Plateau State, Solomon Lar.

She has served in various committees of the House such as Women Affairs and Human Rights, among others.

Lady Maureen Chinwe Gwacham

Lady Maureen Chinwe Gwacham, candidate of the APGA won the seat for the just concluded House of Representatives election for Oyi/Ayamelum federal constituency.

Gwacham scored a total of 15, 299 votes, defeating her close rival in the YPP, Charles Uchenna Okafor, who polled 13,332.

Prof Lilian Orogbu

Prof Lilian Orogbu, a lecturer in the Nnamdi Azikiwe University (UNIZIK) won the Awka North and South federal constituency of Anambra State under the platform of the LP.

The returning officer of INEC, Mr Uche Nriagu, declared the Labour Party candidate, Lilian Orogbu winner with 29,629 votes, defeating her closest rival, Obi Nwankwo, who got 18,081 votes.

Khadija Bukar Abba

Khadija Bukar Abba is a four-time member of the House of Representatives, representing Damaturu, Gujba, Gulani and Tarmuwa federal constituency of Yobe State. She is returning for the fifth time. She was first elected in 2007 and was re-elected in 2011, 2015, 2019 and 2023. Abba has also served as commissioner for transport and energy, Yobe State, as well as minister of state for foreign affairs under President Buhari.

Dwindling women representation in National Assembly 

The representation of women in the National Assembly has continued to dwindle over time. Women’s representation in Nigeria’s parliament is said to be among the lowest in the world.

The 8th National Assembly consisted of only 7 females out of 109 Senate seats available, while 22 females got seats out of the 360 available seats in the House of Representatives.

Daily Trust had on the eve of the presidential and national assembly elections reported how the APC, PDP pose a barrier to women’s participation in politics.

For instance, even though those in the two chambers of the national assembly are representatives that won election on the platforms of APC and PDP, the battle for a legal document to promote women’s participation in governance was dealt a blow when Nigeria’s National Assembly in 2022 rejected five gender bills that were among the 68 amendment bills at the constitutional review.

Though the minister of women affairs, Pauline Tallen, had in 2021 demanded for a 50 per cent representation of women in leadership positions, Daily Trust reports that the national average of women’s political participation remains at 6.7 per cent – far below the African regional average of 23.4 per cent, and the global average of 22.5 per cent.

In Nigeria’s 24 years of democracy, the political and governance space projects a patriarchal society, which stifles women’s political aspirations, as no woman has been elected president, vice president, or governor yet in the country.

A 2023 report released by the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), titled ‘Analysis: Female Candidature and Nigeria’s 2023 Elections’, indicated that more women seeking elective positions in Nigeria subscribed to new and smaller political parties, which gave them weaker chances of being elected for offices at the state and federal levels. This is because the dominant political parties, APC and PDP, give women less visibility and opportunities.

DAILY TRUST

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