10 Most influential women in politics
Nigerian women are courageous who cannot be ignore in the economic, political, medical, media, health and entertainment sector.
Though the cultural environment is still a largely male-dominated society, and virtually everything has been about the men, many of them have had to redefine, and are again redefining the narrative. Over the years, these women have been able to pull their weight, and make their mark.
Here are a few of these women, who have defiled the odds, and are giving men a run for their money, in the political terrain.
She is the wife of President Muhammad Buhari whom she married in December 1989. And though her husband did say there is no portfolio for the position of the ‘First Lady,’ which was obtainable with the previous administrations, Hajia Buhari has been very supportive of her husband’s political career, and even criticised him when the need arose, few years into his administration.
And contrary to what is obtainable with wives of Muslim leaders, who are often expected to take a cultural back seat, Hajia Buhari played a prominent role in ensuring her husband won the February general election.
A graduate of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, where she earned a Bachelors in Public Administration, Mrs Buhari also has a post-graduate diploma in cosmetology and beauty, which she got in the Academy Esthetique Beauty Institute of France. She is also an alumnus of the famous Carlton Institute of London. She is a board member of International Human Rights, with their head office in the United Kingdom. She also helps women politicians to raise funds for campaigns.
Abike Dabiri Erewa
Abike Dabiri is a former member of the Nigeria Federal House of Representatives, who represented Ikorodu Constituency in Lagos State. Before she yielded to calls from her constituency to run for a seat, Abike had distinguished herself as an outstanding media practitioner in all the fifteen years she put in at the Nigerian Television Authority. Millions of Nigerians gathered to watch Newsline, a magazine programme she was both a presenter and anchor on, with skill.
In the House, the 56-year-old served as the Chairman of the House Committee on Information and also the Committee on Diaspora Affairs. She is currently the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the National Diaspora and the President’s Senior Special Adviser on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora.
Princess Stella Oduah is a serving member of the 8th Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, who against all the odds won to retain her seat in the Senate in the next political dispensation.
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 was once Nigeria’s Aviation Minister.
Aisha Alhassan, fondly ‘Mama Taraba’ by supporters is one woman who came so close to being the first elected female governor of Nigeria. Her political career started under PDP in 2011, when she won a seat at the Senate for 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.
Aisha Alhassan is as the mother of Taraba politics.
Former First Lady of Lagos and wife of APC chieftain, Oluremi Tinubu is currently a Senator representing Lagos Central Senatorial District, on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Before venturing into politics, she was a high school teacher.
In 2011, Oluremi Tinubu contested for the senatorial position of Lagos Central Senatorial District on the platform of Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and was successful. She contested again in 2015 for the same seat and again was successful, but this time on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC)
Mrs Tinubu holds a B.Sc. in Education from the University of Ife, and a National Certificate of Education in Botany and Zoology, from the Adeyemi College of Education.
Among other non-governmental organisations, the 58-year-old is also the Convener of Daughters of Zelophehad Ministry which, ministers to the generation ‘next’ woman, preparing women for leadership roles, and raising godly families.
Since her husband became prominently involved in politics, Remi has stood by him and over the years, this forthright role model has made a tremendous impact in the lives of several people and institutions within and outside Nigeria.
Senator Uche. Ekwunife of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) recently won the Anambra Central Senatorial election held on Feb. 23.
Ekwunife, who was at the National Assembly for APGA, between 2010 and 2014, defeated the incumbent, Sen. Victor Umeh of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) to emerge the winner.
Recall that Ekwunife was also a candidate of the party in 2015 general election, which she allegedly won before the election tribunals declared her victory null and void, in favour of Senator Victor Umeh, who is currently serving the Central Senatorial District of Anambra State.
Gbemisola Ruqayyah Saraki is sister to the President of the Senate, BukolaSaraki.
She was elected into the House of Representatives in 1999 representing Asa/Ilorin West Federal Constituency, Kwara State. She later became a senator, when she was chosen to represent the Kwara Central Senatorial district under the platform of the People’s Democratic Party, in the year 2003.
However, in 2006, the struggle between her and her brother, Senator Bukola Saraki began when he was on the verge of completing his eight-year tenure as Kwara Governor, declined to support their father’s proposal to get Gbemi to succeed him.
Instead, the former governor, who was then in the PDP, backed incumbent Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed as his successor. In anger, Gbemi and their father left the PDP to form a new party, Allied Congress Party of Nigeria, on which platform she ran for governor but lost to Bukola’s candidate. As if that was not enough, in 2011, Bukola took over Gbemi’s seat in the Senate, thus leaving her in a political wilderness and denied her political relevance in the state.
Gbemi kept her wounds fresh and waited to take her pound of flesh on her brother. The last Presidential and National Assembly elections presented her with the opportunity to strike. And she indeed hit with her contribution to Bukola’s defeat and loss of his Kwara Central Senatorial Seat.
Gbemi has since regained her respect in Kwara politics, as we learnt, she played a very strategic role in knocking her brother off the high political tower.
Honourable Funmi Tejuosho
She has been consistent as a force to reckon with in Lagos politics.
Currently serving her fourth term in the Lagos State House of Assembly, representing Mushin Constituency, Honorable Tejuosho is also the Chairperson of the Lagos State House of Assembly Committee on Finance. So vibrant is Funmi that she was tipped severally to be the speaker of the House, but has never gotten the backing of fellow members. She has, however, stayed through to the cause and has become a voice for the female folks in Nigeria’s commercial capital. She is known for supporting pro-people initiatives and laws in the House and has shown exemplary leadership quality and diligence while carrying out at her parliamentary duties.
Senator Khairat Gwadabe
Now 54, Senator Gwadabe remains a charming blend of brain and beauty. She was the Senator that represented the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, from May 1999 to May 2003. During her time in the Senate, she was a member of the Federal Character, Culture and Tourism, Environment, Health and FCT committees. She was also the Chairperson of the Women Affairs Committee. She has since dedicated her political life to serving the SENATORS FORUM, an influential body comprising serving and former senators. She has also settled into business, as she is the owner of the popular fast food chain, Drumsticks.
Binta Masi Garba
Binta Masi Garba has remained relevant in the political sector even though she has been quiet for some time. The former Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Adamawa State was the first female chairperson of a political party in the country. She was elected Senator for the Adamawa North Senatorial District, in 2015 under the platform of All Progressives Congress (APC).
Binta enjoys a close relationship and has a strong connection at the highest level with prominent national figures, including Vice President, YemiOsinbajo, the Secretary to Federal Government, Boss Mustapha and Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi.
She has also maintained a close relationship with her constituency while bringing herself closer to the grassroots, through economic empowerment initiative for rural women.
By Temitope Ojo