Women are acknowledged for the role they play in helping stabilise the polity of any nation. Nigeria is no doubt blessed with influential women who have affected the country and its image in one way or the other, most significantly in politics. Here are 12 among these woman-politicians.
1. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
She holds the record of being the first woman to serve as the Managing Director of the World Bank as well those of Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs and Finance Minister. She served as Finance Minister under President Obasanjo and was later moved to the Foreign Affairs Ministry.
In October 2005, she led the Nigerian team that struck a deal with the Paris Club, a group of bilateral creditors, to pay a portion of Nigeria’s external debt of $12 billion in return for an $18 billion debt write-off. Prior to the partial debt payment and write-off, Nigeria spent roughly US $1 billion every year on debt servicing, without making a dent in the principal owed.
She was the Finance Minister, and coordinating Minister of the economy under former President Goodluck Jonathan and she has embarked on a project of helping to reduce re-current expenditure and concentrate on on capital projects.
2. Diezani Allison-Madueke
She is Nigeria’s first female Petroleum Resources Minister. Before her last appointment, she had served as Minister in two other Ministries, namely Transport and Solid Minerals. Like her parents, she was on the payroll of Shell Petroleum Development Company where she rose to become a Director. She holds a degree in Architecture and an MBA which she obtained in Cambridge University. She oversaw the Ministry many refer to as “Nigeria’s pot of oil” since the country generates most of its revenue from oil.
3. Dame Patience Jonathan Nigeria’s former First Lady, and wife of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan. She wields enormous influence in and out of political circles. During her husband’s tenure, many politicians believe she is one of those who determine who gets what in the political circles. She has lent her voice to the actualization of the 35% affirmative action for women in Nigeria thus advocating for more women in governance.
4. Obiageli Ezekwesili
Obiageli, a trained Chartered Accountant was a co-founder of Transparency International, a global anti-corruption body. She has served as Nigeria’s Minister of Solid Minerals and later Education. Prior to that time, she had been appointed as the pioneer head of the Budget Monitoring and Price Intelligence Unit which was often referred to as the Due Process Unit. She earned herself the name “Madam Due Process” while serving in that office. After her exit from the Federal Executive Council, she moved to the World Bank where she serves as the Vice President of the Africa division. She is also the Lead-Campaigner for the BringBackOurGirls group, in advocacy for the rescue of the 239 abducted school girls.
5. Faridah Waziri
Ever since was appointed to occupy the office of the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mrs. Waziri has not stopped being in the news. The organisation is Nigeria’s main anti-corruption agency. Her organisation should normally spell dread in some places, especially among politicians. She has come under criticisms concerning her approach to corruption fighting in the country. That notwithstanding however, a good number of people would do anything to be in her good books.
6. Justice Aloma Mariam Mukhtar
She is the first female judge to be elevated to the Supreme Court. Many tipped her to replace the immediate past Chief Judge. Though that was not to be, people are already looking beyond that and there are feelings that she might just be the first woman to occupy the office. Justice Mukhtar who was born in 1994 was elevated to Nigeria’s highest court in 2005.
7. Stella Oduah Ogiemwonyi
She showed what she was capable of doing during the electioneering campaign of President Goodluck Jonathan when she served as the President’s campaign organisation’s Director of Administration and Finance. The American-trained Anambra princess holds degrees in Accounting and Business Administration. After working with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) for nine years, she left and delved into the independent marketing of petroleum products. She is Nigeria’s former Aviation Minister.
8. Abike Dabiri Erewa:
She distinguished herself as a top grade media practitioner in all the fifteen years she put in at the Nigerian Television Authority. Millions gathered to watch Newsline, a magazine programme she anchored with dexterity. By the time she yielded to calls from her constituency to run for a seat in the House of Representatives, she enjoyed overwhelming support from the people. In the House, she has served as the Chairman of the House Committee on Information and also the Committee on Diaspora Affairs.
9. Monsurat Sunmonu: Monsurat Sunmonu (Mrs) was the immediate past Speaker of the Oyo State House of Assembly, Nigeria. She was a member of the House of Assembly representing Oyo East and Oyo West local governments. She became the first female Speaker in the history of Oyo State.
Sunmonu is currently a Senator of the Oyo Central Senatorial District seat in the Upper Chambers of the National Assembly, having won the election held on 28 March 2015 under the plattform of APC.
10. Aisha Alhassan: Aisha Alhassan takes this spot on the list for being one woman who came so close to being the first elected female governor of Nigeria. Her political career started under PDP in 2011 as she won the Senatorship seat of Taraba north senatorial district defeating Jolly Nyame (former governor of Taraba). She later defected to APC and won the governorship ticket for her party, becoming the first woman in the leading APC to win a governorship ticket. She was able to give PDP governorship candidate Darrius Dickson Ishaku a tough run but eventually lost out. She is nicknamed ‘Mama Taraba’ by her supporters in Taraba, regarded the mother of Taraba politics. Later on, an election petitions tribunal restored her as the governor of Taraba state but was dismissed by a supreme court based on lack of merit.
11. Remi Sonaiya: Prof. Comfort Oluremi Sonaiya of Kowa party was the only woman that contested for Nigeria’s President in February 2015 elections. She contested alongside her running mate, Saidu Bobboi. Prof. Sonaiya is a former Professor of Foreign Languages at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State. In 2008, she was named an International Ambassador Scientist of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, and until recently, Sonaiya was the National Public Relations Officer of KOWA Party.
12. Onyeka Onwenu: She was born in Onitsha, Anambra State on May 17, 1961. Onyeka Onwenu is a Nigerian singer, actress and politician. In 2006, she won the African Movie Academy Award for Best Actress in a supporting role. Previously, she was the chairperson of the Imo State Council for Arts. She was appointed as the Executive Director/Chief Executive Officer of the National Centre for Women Development, NCWD, Abuja by former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.
Source: Nigerian Bulletin