Journalism in the service of society

Women in Nigerian politics: Where lies 35 percent affirmative action?

PRESIDENT Bola Ahmed Tinubu had in his manifesto during the campaigns for the election that brought him into office, promised to work with the National Assembly (10th Assembly) to pass a law to increase women’s participation in government to at least 35 percent, if elected.

Tinubu in the 80-page document titled “Renewed Hope 2023 – Action Plan for a Better Nigeria” said the law will seek employment of women in all government offices. According to the manifesto, members of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) are to reserve certain senior positions for women, while the private sector will be encouraged to do the same.

According to him, “Working with the National Assembly, we will aim to pass legislation, promoting female employment in all government offices, ministries, and agencies. The goal will be to increase women’s participation in government to at least 35 percent of all governmental positions. 

“This legislation shall also mandate the federal executive (particularly the cabinet and core senior advisers) to reserve a minimum number of senior positions for women. Private institutions shall be strongly encouraged to do likewise.”

Having been sworn-in as President on May 29, the women folks are eagerly waiting to see if he will fulfill his promise. It needs to be noted that the role of women in Nigerian politics is shaped by the patriarchal, religious and tribal nature of the society, which in some way provides the setting for the oppression they face in politics and in everyday life.

The 2021 Global Gender Gap Report, ranked Nigeria 139th out of 156 countries with the largest gender gaps in terms of ‘political empowerment’. 

 According to the Gender Inequality Index, the country is ranked 168th out of 191 countries. As of 2019, out of 193 countries globally, Nigeria is at the 181st position when it comes to women’s descriptive representation in parliament; hence, gender inequality in the country remains a going concern. 

It is therefore no news that over the years the country has been recording low participation of women in both elective and appointive positions. 

This concern was further affirmed with the results of the February/March 2023 general election, which once again confirmed the continued under-representation and marginalisation of the female gender in the country’s politics and governance.

 With the Nigeria’s population put at 220,748,057 as of Sunday, May 14, 2023, based on Worldometer elaboration of the latest United Nations data, and women constitute 49.47 percent of this total figure according to data by the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics (NBS), they only manage to secure 4.69 per cent of the executive and legislative positions offered at the federal and state levels in the February/March elections. 

In line with the declaration made at the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China, which advocated 35 per cent affirmative action, concerted efforts have been made by government and non–governmental organisations to increase women participation level in politics in the country. 

To give credence to this declaration, the National Gender Policy, a sector national strategic framework of Nigeria which main objectives is gender equality, empowerment of women and women’s human rights, also recommended 35 per cent affirmative action and sought for a more inclusive representation of women with at least 35 per cent of both elective political and appointive public service positions respectively.

Pre-colonial, colonial antecedentes 

Prior to the British colonization, Nigerian women were quite involved in the political process of the society. One prevalent political feature during this era was the dual-sex system, where the men’s organisations and the women’s organisations acted side by side. Authority was shared between the two genders as a way of promoting unity. 

History has portrayed the active role women such as Moremi of Ile-Ife, Emotan of Benin, Queen Amina of Zaria and her mother, Queen Bakwa Turuku, Omu Okwei of Ossomari and the several Iyalodes in Yoruba land among others played in the economic and political sphere before the British colonization. 

For instance, Queen Bakwa Turuku founded the city of Zaria and her daughter, Amina built a defensive wall around the city in order to repel invasions. Ancient Yorubaland comprised eight high ranking chieftains who helped the ruler rule the kingdom. In Igboland, women were politically active in their communities during this period, while in the Borno Empire, women took part in administering the region.

A prominent position enjoyed by Igbo women and their counterparts in Yorubaland during the pre-colonial era and even till date was that of the Omu and Iyalode, which translates to “mother of the society”. Those that attained this position did so, independently of their male relatives. 

The Omu made decisions that pertained to both the men and the women, as she was in charge of overseeing and regulating the marketplace by settling market prices and disputes. The Omu or Iyalode was also the head of the council that was in charge of local trade. She and other women were obligated to attend assemblies to discuss important matters pertaining to the people. They had discretion in important matters, such as waging war.

During the 1940s and 50s, Nigerian women were also politically active. Some key organisations during this period were the Nigerian Women’s Union and the National Council of Women’s Societies. There were also women’s wings of parties created by women that allowed for their voices to be heard. 

For instance, in the Southern region, women acquired the right to vote, while the Igbo women garnered support from women for the National Council of Nigeria and Citizens, which ruled Nigeria at independence.

The 1950s presented many debates regarding women’s access to political responsibilities and their stance on voting rights in Nigeria. It was not until 1979 when all Nigerian women gained their voting rights. To this day, Nigerian women still rally and fight to further their political voice and representation.

The challenges, barriers and data

Historically, women in Nigeria have been excluded and marginalised in politics, public decision-making institutions, constitution-drafting and governance in general. Hence they face many challenges when interacting with political life and these include limited access to education, economic opportunities, and religion among other societal norms. 

Research has shown that the Nigerian state has a long history of gender imbalance and discrimination against women, which dates to the colonial period that is reputed with exploitation and oppression. This exploitation and oppression has brought about a distortion of the country’s economic, educational, religious, cultural, social, and ideological orientations. 

For instance, during the British colonial era, the 1922 Clifford Constitution stated that elections to the Legislative Council of Nigeria were for “Every male person who is a British subject or a native of the Protectorate of Nigeria, who is of the age of twenty-one years or upwards.”

This set off a process which saw Nigeria’s electoral and political party systems being built on male power and authority. Although the Macpherson Constitution (1951) and Lyttleton Constitution (1954) respectively, allowed limited franchise for female taxpayers and later on, universal suffrage for everyone in the Eastern and Western regions of Nigeria. 

Given this, women therefore, are disproportionately affected by poverty, violence, and other forms of discrimination, even as their traditional and social roles, as well as the cultural norms continue to limit their potential. These roles vary based on religious, cultural and geographic factors.

Many cultures see the female gender solely as mothers, sisters, daughters and wives. For instance, women in the Northern part of the country are more likely to be secluded in the home than their counterparts in the Southern part, which tends to participate more in public life.

With Christianity and Islam being the two dominant religions in the country, though not directly supporting gender discrimination or marginalisation, they provide the societal framework by which many women are unable to access support due to social issues such as traditional beliefs, tribal uprisings, and more.

 Nigerian women are traditionally expected to be nurturing mothers, daughters and sisters, societal roles that find themselves in the household caring for children, or performing minor tasks such as selling crafts. It is therefore normal to find Nigerian women confined to the household, required to please their husbands because divorce is highly frowned upon. 

A successful marriage, in most cases, means that a woman is submissive and loyal to her husband and provides sex at his demand. This stereotypical role is tied to the reason why many Nigerian men view women as inferior and do not support their participation in politics and governance.

 In the build-up of the 2023 general elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had while calling for a review of gender policy and total inclusion of women in the planning and implementation of electoral processes, noted that the barriers to Nigerian women participation in politics are election time violence, economic restrictions, and patriarchy. 

The Deputy Director, Gender Division, INEC, Blessing Obidegwu, disclosed this at a Seminar on the “Review of INEC Gender Policy by External Stakeholders”, held in Lagos. She averred that in many countries all over the world, women continued to be marginalised and underrepresented in the political and electoral processes.

According to her, major steps needed to be taken before true gender equality was achieved. She said: “It is, therefore, important that Election Management Bodies (EMBs) intentionally and proactively take gender into account in the analysis and implementation of all electoral processes.”

“As we all know, Nigeria is a signatory to several regional, international protocols and conventions on the protection of the rights of women, including guarantees of equality of access, particularly in the area of politics.

“In spite of Nigeria being a signatory to all these instruments, Nigerian women still remain largely marginalised in all spheres of activities including governance,” she added.

 Obidegwu further said that one of the objectives of INEC Gender Policy was to ensure that the commission’s policies, plans and operations were gender-responsive. She stated that the gender policy was also to encourage gender equity and balance within political parties, especially in the identification of candidates in line with the provision of their statutes.

Female political aspirants often suffer from election violence, threats and hate speech during the electioneering process, and political parties have done little to encourage their participation, while some excluded them. 

During 2015 general elections, Nigeria had 20 women out of 359 in the House of Representatives, which represents 5.6 per cent and seven out of 109 in the Senate, which is 6.4 percent. In the build-up of the 2019 election, during the 2018 primaries, there were incidents in which women were harassed and even made to give up their party ticket. Women during democratic period occupied a paltry 67 seats out of 1,478 elective and appointive seats, with none as President, Vice President, Governor, Senate President or Speaker. 

With the 2023 general elections over, and female politicians’ failure to secure a good number of seats across the country, especially in the country’s highest law-making/decision-making bodies (Senate and House of Representatives), both chambers are therefore guaranteed to remain excessively male-dominated for another four years, as only two females will be sitting in the red chamber out of the 109 senators-elect, when the 10th National Assembly is inaugurated in June. Meanwhile, out of the 988 state Assembly seats, there are only 48 female lawmakers, representing 4.85 per cent.

The nomination/expression of interest form in the 2023 election was pocket tearing for an average person as the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) pegged its presidential ticket at N100 million, governorship at N50 million, Senate at N20 million, House of Representatives N10 million and State Assembly at N2 million.

For the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), which is the lead opposition party, the presidential form was pegged at N40 million, governorship N21 million, Senate N3.5 million, House of Representatives N2.5 million and State House of Assembly N600,000.

In a bid to encourage the women folk to participate in the process, the APC gave special consideration to female aspirants and Persons with Disabilities (PWD), as they only purchased the Expression of Interest (EoI) form, while nomination forms were free for them. 

Unlike the APC that gave free nomination form to the female aspirants, the PDP slashed the cost of its tickets by 50 per cent. Thus, a female House of Assembly aspirant under the party was entitled to get the form at N750,000, while the balance went into consultations and other logistics.

Expressing worry over the way politics is being played in the country and how it is discouraging for women, Chairman, Forum of Civil Societies Organisations, Akwa Ibom State, Dr Harry Udoh noted that violence, as well as the nocturnal nature of politics, is not conducive for women to engage in.

He said, “Imagine if women were to step out every night, they would be considered wayward. Politics has been so monetized, a lot of women have to depend on their spouses and not many women have the kind of money that politicians have to run for elections.”

“In our political project, for you to see people, you need to buy drinks (expensive ones) goats or cows as the case may be and that is not good enough. This act is even excluding the people, not just women alone, but other men who have genuine interest to serve but do not have the resources,” he added. 

The ceiling placed by the new Electoral Act over spending on elections had left much to be worried than desired. It placed the campaign spending threshold to different categories such as: Presidential election N5 Billion; Governorship N1 Billion; Senate and House of Representatives N100 million; House of Assembly N30 million; Councillor N5million.

According to Angela Nkwo, Communications Officer, Nigerian Feminist Forum, some of the provisions of the Electoral Act have placed women in a difficult position to participate in politics, even as she described such provisions as gender-based violence in a different form.

She said, “The newly approved campaign spending threshold to N5 Billion for presidential election is nothing short of gender-based violence against women in another form.

“How many women can muster such a financial war chest after years of discrimination, violence, and lack of opportunities?” she queried.

The national average of women’s political participation in Nigeria has remained 6.7 percent in elective and appointive positions, which is far below the global average of 22.5 per cent, Africa regional average of 23.4 percent and West African sub regional average of 15 per cent. 

Current statistics show that women constitute only 11.2 percent of the membership in both chambers of the 9th National Assembly, with seven females in the Senate and 11 in the House of Representatives. Out of the total 479 members of the NASS, only 19 were originally female members in the two chambers. But with the demise of Senator Rose Oko in 2020, the number reduced to 18. 

The 9th Assembly had seven serving female Senators and 13 House of Reps members. The Senators include Oluremi Tinubu (APC Lagos Central), Stella Oduah (PDP, Anambra North); Uche Ekwunife (PDP, Anambra Central), Betty Jocelyn Apiafi (PDP, Rivers West), Eyakenyi Akon (PDP, Akwa Ibom South), Aishatu Binani Dahiru (APC, Adamawa Central), and Abiodun Olujimi (PDP, Ekiti South). 

It is disheartening to note that none of these female senators will be returning to the red chamber in the 10th Assembly which will be inaugurated on June 13. While Oluremi Tinubu transits to Aso Villa as Nigeria’s first lady, following her husband, Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s emergence as president; Eyakenyi Akon has since resumed as Deputy Governor of her state, Akwa-Ibom, no one can tell what the future holds for Stella Oduah, Uche Ekwunife and Biodun Olujimi

Ireti Kingibe

Ireti Kingibe

In the House of Representatives, there is Nkeiruka Onyejeocha (Deputy Majority Whip – APC/Abia), Beni Lar (PDP/Plateau), Lynda Ikpeazu (PDP/Anambra), Khadijat Abba-Ibrahim (APC/Yobe), Zainab Gimba (APC/Borno), Blessing Onuh (APC/Benue), Boma Goodhead (PDP/Rivers), Aisha Dukku (APC/Gombe), Adewunmi Onanuga (APC/Ogun), Omowumi Ogunlola (APC/Ekiti), Tolulope Akande-Shadipe (APC/Oyo), Taiwo Oluga (APC/Osun) and Miriam Onuoha (APC/Imo).

 In 2021, Onyejeocha alongside 85 other legislators in the Green chamber sponsored an amendment to the 1999 Constitution to create additional 111 seats which will be exclusively for women in the National Assembly. Although the bill passed its second reading, but overtime, it failed to garner the required support.

2023 Election and The Many Surprises

For the 10th National Assembly (NASS), the results of the 2023 elections showed a general decline in women representations at the National Assembly. 378 women ran for various seats in the Senate and House of Representatives elections, but only 17 were successful. This puts women’s representation in the incoming 10th Assembly at 3.62 per cent.

According to available data, a total of 10,240 candidates contested for the 990 State Houses of Assembly seats across the 36 states. Of these contestants, 9,221 were male, while 1,019 were female. And out of the 1,019 female contestants, only 48 won. This amounts to a 4.7 percent success rate for women.

Compared with the 2019 election, where 45 women were elected into the State Houses of Assembly, the number of females elected into the state legislature in the 2023 election increased by three. This represents less than one per cent increase. Nevertheless, it is a far cry from a proper representation.

A breakdown of the 48 females elected into the state Assemblies in 2023 by states showed that Ekiti State had the highest number. Out of the 26 seats in the State’s House of Assembly, six are occupied by women. In 2019, only four females were elected into the legislature.

 Kwara and Akwa Ibom States were next with the highest number of elected female lawmakers in 2023. The two states have five and four females in their state parliaments, respectively.

 In Akwa Ibom, the outgoing Assembly has only two female lawmakers out of the 26 seats in the state. This has now increased to four. Kwara State which had no female lawmaker in 2019 also has the second highest number of female elected lawmakers in the 2023 election with five women now sitting in the legislative chamber as lawmakers.  

 Lagos State has only three female elected lawmakers, the same as Ondo State. While the number increased by one in Ondo, Lagos maintained the same number of female lawmakers it had in 2019.

 Further analysis showed that 15 states do not have a single female elected lawmaker in their current 10th State Houses of Assembly. The states are: Abia, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Imo, Jigawa, Kano, Kebbi, Katsina, Niger, Osun, Rivers, Sokoto, Yobe and Zamfara.

Out of the seven states in the North-West region, all except Kaduna State will be male-dominated Houses of Assembly. Kaduna has two female lawmakers sitting in the parliament now, as against 2019, when it had none. Kano, Zamfara, Jigawa, Sokoto, Katsina and Kebbi states have no female representatives in the state assemblies.

In the North-East region, Adamawa and Taraba have three female lawmakers in their current Assemblies. While Taraba produced two, Adamawa had one. The other four states Borno, Gombe, Yobe and Bauchi have no female lawmakers/representation. 

Abia, Imo, Niger, Osun, and Rivers are also among the states that have no female lawmakers sitting in their legislative chambers. This is the second election in a row that Abia State will not have a single elected female in its State House of Assembly. In 2019, the 24 seats in the state’s House of Assembly were all occupied by men.

In the 9th Assembly (2019-2023), Abia, Bauchi, Borno, Edo, Jigawa, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Kogi, Kwara, Nasarawa, Sokoto, Taraba, Yobe and Zamfara are states with no female representation. 

Out of these states, Bauchi, Katsina, Kebbi, Sokoto, and Zamfara have never had any female representation at either federal or state levels since the beginning of the 4th Republic in 1999.

 History was made in Adamawa State when for the first time a woman, Senator Aisha Dahiru, popularly known as Binani, was selected to run on the platform of a ruling national party, the APC. It is the second time the APC would select a woman as its gubernatorial candidate in North-East geo-political zone, as late Senator Aisha Jummai Al-Hassan in 2015, was the party’s gubernatorial candidate in Taraba State.

 Also, there were a handful of women governorship candidates on the platforms of relatively smaller parties. For instance, Binta Umar of the Action Alliance (AA) Jigawa State; Hajiya Fatima Abubakar of the African Democratic Congress (ADC) Borno State; Beatrice Itubor of the Labour Party (LP) in Rivers State, and Khadijah Iya Abdullahi of All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) in Niger State.

Salvaging the situation 

Notwithstanding the imbalance as a result of the socio-cultural factors, women in Nigeria have been able to come together in feminist movements, such as the Women in Nigeria (WIN) founded in 1982, to combat male supremacy in Nigeria and shape feminism as a force for Nigerian women. 

Pronto this period, and given the provisions of Macpherson Constitution (1951) and Lyttleton Constitution (1954) respectively that allowed limited franchise for female taxpayers and later on, universal suffrage for everyone in the Eastern and Western regions of Nigeria, women who were eligible to participate and contest in elections faced stiff resistance from their male colleagues.

Indeed, this may account for why Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti was quoted as saying her failure to win at the intermediate round of the Electoral College in 1951 was due to “male chauvinism.” Again, in June 1957, she reiterated this point in a statement to the press that “Women are used as election tools.” 

During the First Republic (1960 – 1965), only four women won elections. They were Margaret Ekpo, Janet Mokelu and Ekpo Young to the Eastern House of Assembly and Esther Soyannwo to the Western House of Assembly. 

In the recent time, concerted efforts have been made by government and non-governmental organisations to increase the level of women participation in politics in the country in line with the 30 per cent affirmative action declaration resolution of Beijing Conference. 

Despite the steps taken to address these issues, progress has been slow, as Nigerian women are still underrepresented in politics and decision-making roles, and by extension often excluded from economic opportunities.

As of 2006, the National Gender Policy has called for the increase of women in government positions to 35 per cent. However, this demand is yet to materialize, as the proportion of women in both elective and appointive positions in the country remains very much less than the percentage above. 

To help increase the number of women working in the government, the Nigerian Women’s Trust Fund (NWTF) with support from the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development (MWASD), UN Women, uses funding, networking opportunities, mentoring, training for leadership, and advocacy. 

While the country still await implementation of the laws meant to improve the gender gap, the Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre (WARDC) and the Nigerian Women Trust Fund (NWTF) in an outlined document titled “Nigerian Women Charter of Demand” in 2014, demanded to have 35 per cent of women incorporated in all sectors of government. 

Many women aspired and contested during the last elections, as well as during previous elections across the states; they mostly lost to their male counterparts, a situation the chief executive officer of NWTF, Mufuliat Fijane lamented has had a negative impact on women in politics. 

According to her, women were left behind in lawmaking; hence decisions are reached without gender perspectives. “The poor emergence of women as elected representatives of state houses of assembly is not unconnected with the poor acceptability of women as leaders who have qualifications to perform exceptionally well in elective positions,” she said. 

Fijane blamed the poor outing of women during the 2023 election on the patriarchal nature of Nigeria as a country, adding that women are also challenged with the lack of resources, which they need to mobilise their constituencies.

“The electoral environment is also a contributory factor because of the attitude of politicians, who now see elective offices as their source of income rather than an avenue to develop and deepen democracy in Nigeria,” she added.

Delivering judgment in a suit filed by a non-governmental organisation, Women in Politics Forum (WIPF), Justice Donatus Okorowo said the federal government had the obligation to implement the 35 percent affirmative action, accusing past governments of acting in breach of international treaties on women participation in government. 

He added that the National Gender Policy is not merely a policy statement, but one that must be backed with requisite action on the part of the government. He further held that the 35 per cent affirmative action, which entails appointive positions for women to ensure inclusivity, must not be merely on paper as Nigeria is a signatory to international treaties, particularly on those that entrench the rights of women.

Breaking the ceiling

Women such as Dr. Ngozi Okonjo- Iweala, the Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO), and Amina Jane Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, Oby Ezekwesili, a former Minister of Education, among others are examples of women who have weathered the storm, navigated the male dominated political and decision-making institutions in Nigeria to get to the top where they are serving at the global stage.

Born June 13, 1954, Okonjo-Iweala is a Nigerian development economist; she is the first woman and first African to lead the WTO as Director-General. Prior to her election as WTO DG in March 2021, she was the first Nigerian woman to serve two terms as Minister of Finance; first under President Olusegun Obasanjo (2003 – 2006), and supervising Minister of Foreign Affairs (August – October 2006), thus becoming the first woman to hold both positions. As a result of her giant strides, she was named Global Finance Minister of the Year in 2005 by Euro money.

She was reappointed Minister of Finance with an expanded portfolio of Coordinating Minister of the Economy under President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan (2011 – 2015). She was responsible for leading reforms that enhanced transparency of government accounts and strengthened institutions against corruption, including the implementation of the Government Integrated Financial Management System (GIFMS), the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Management System (IPPMS), and the Treasury Single Accounts (TSA). As of February 2015, the IPPIS platform had eliminated 62,893 ghost workers from the system and saved the government about $1.25 billion in the process. 

 Before her appointment as Minister of Finance, she served as the Managing Director, World Bank, where she had oversight responsibility for the bank’s $81 billion operational portfolio in Africa, South Asia, Europe, and Central Asia. She spearheaded several initiatives of the bank to assist low-income countries during the 2008–2009 food crises and later during the financial crisis. 

Okonjo-Iweala’s legacy includes strengthening the country’s public financial systems and stimulating the housing sector with the establishment of the Nigerian Mortgage Refinance Corporation (NMRC) in 2013. 

 Under her leadership, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) carried out a re-basing exercise of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the first in 24 years, which saw Nigeria emerge as the largest economy in Africa.

She also empowered women and youth with the Growing Girls and Women in Nigeria Programme (GWIN), a gender-responsive budgeting system, and the highly acclaimed Youth Enterprise with Innovation Programme (YouWIN); to support entrepreneurs that created thousands of jobs.

   Mohammed is a British-Nigerian diplomat and politician serving as the fifth Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations. Born in Liverpool, England on June 27, 1961, she was Nigeria’s Minister of Environment from 2015 to 2016, and was a player in the Post-2015 Development Agenda process.

    After she finished her studies in the United Kingdom, her father demanded she return to Nigeria, and worked with Archcon Nigeria, an architectural design firm in association with Norman and Dawbarn United Kingdom. 

   She founded Afri-Projects Consortium in 1991 and served as its Executive Director until 2001. From 2002 until 2005, Mohammed coordinated the Task Force on Gender and Education for the United Nations Millennium Project. She later acted as the Senior Special Assistant to the President of Nigeria on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). 

   In 2005, she was charged with the coordination of Nigeria’s debt relief funds toward the achievement of the MDGs. Her mandate included designing a Virtual Poverty Fund with innovative approaches to poverty reduction, budget coordination and monitoring, as well as providing advice on pertinent issues regarding poverty, public sector reform and sustainable development.

    As the Special Adviser to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Post-2015 Development Agenda in 2012, Mohammed was a key player in the development planning process. In this role, she acted as the link between the UN Secretary-General, his High Level Panel of Eminent Persons (HLP), and the General Assembly’s Open Working Group (OWG), among other stakeholders. 

   From 2014, she also served on the Secretary-General’s Independent Expert Advisory Group on the Data Revolution for Sustainable Development. As Nigeria’s Minister of Environment from November 2015 to February 2017, under the President Muhammadu Buhari administration, Mohammed was Nigeria’s representative in the African Union (AU) Reform Steering Committee, chaired by Paul Kagame. 

    She resigned from the Buhari administration on February 24, 2017, after being accused by an advocacy group of granting illegal permits to Chinese firms to import endangered Nigerian timber. The allegation, however, was debunked by the federal government.

    United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres appointed her Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations. In this capacity, she is the Chair of the UN Sustainable Development Group, and a member of the Interagency Coordination Group on Antimicrobial Resistance (IACG) and recently the lobby of terrorism.

    In the 10th National Assembly, the female folks will be represented in the Senate by only three new members – Ireti Kingibe (LP/FCT), Harry Banigo (PDP/Rivers) and Idiat Adebule (APC/Lagos). While in the House of Representatives, 13 women will brace up to the male dominated green chamber. 

     Out of these 13, seven were re-elected. They are Beni Lar (Plateau), Blessing Onuh (Benue), Zainab Gimba (Borno), Khadijat Abba-Ibrahim (Yobe), Boma Goodhead (Rivers), Adewunmi Onanuga (Ogun), and Miriam Onuoha (Imo).

    The seven new members are Obiageli Orogbu (LP/Anambra), Fatima Talba (APC/Yobe), Clara Nnabuife (YPP/Anambra), Marie Ebikake (PDP/Bayelsa), Maureen Gwacham (APGA/Anambra), Ehriatake Ibori-Suenu (PDP/Delta) and Regina Akume (APC/Benue).

    As the Tinubu led administration hit the ground running, the questions begging answers are: will President Bola Ahmed Tinubu keep the promise made in his manifesto during his campaigns? Will the First Lady with her experience and contacts as a former senator, initiate and push bills that will increase women participation in politics both in the legislative and executive chambers respectively?

    Will the National Assembly (10th Assembly) amend the Constitution to create the additional 111 seats which will be exclusively for women in the National Assembly to further give credence to the 35 percent affirmative action declaration? 

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