Nigeria Elects First Female Speaker!

by Paul I. Adujie

I write to congratulate Nigeria’s National Assembly and Nigeria, on the emergence of the first female speaker of Nigeria’s national assembly! This is coming on the heels of, President Yar’Adua’s vow to ensure the empowerment of women, with an increase of percentage of the appointments of females into his administration appointments.

It is heartwarming to learn that Nigeria’s National Assembly has been inaugurated to begin a new term alongside the new president of Nigeria, President Yar’Adua. It is particularly exciting to note the gender agenda progress that has been made since 1999 with the appointments of key female federal ministers, and other key female appointees, who it turned out, were among the star-performers of the Obasanjo administration.

It will be recalled as well, that the first female member of the Supreme Court of Nigeria was appointed less than five years ago! Gender Equality has not been achieved in Nigeria by any stretch of the imagination, but steadily, crucially necessary steps are being taken! We concede that there is more that needs to be done to elevate women worldwide.

America for the first time, elected a female speaker, and that was only a few months ago! And now, I can shout, America! Show me your Speaker Nancy Pelosi of the US Congress. I will show you Madam Speaker Patricia Etteh of Nigeria’s National Assembly!
Nigerians and Nigeria are making gender agenda progress with the election of Madam Speaker Patricia Etteh!

In May of 2006, that is, about a year ago, I wrote “Gender Equality Agenda & Obasanjo’s Presidency with comments of a reader which follows; Thanks for this piece. No other administration has done our women so proud. There are numerous other women appointees not covered by media attention. Mrs. Ronke Omame, accomplished International Lawyer is in charge as Special Adviser, Urban Planning, Illustrious daughters of the following friends of Mr. President also serve: Dr Alex Ekwueme‘s Daughter, Prof Wole Soyinka‘s Daughter, Chief Abraham Adesanya’s Daughter; These ladies are successful in their own rights, but are recognized by Mr. President and “drafted” by Mr. President for public service of our fatherland.

Mrs. Remi Oyo is doing much better than her male predecessors as Presidential Spokesperson – Special Assistant to Mr. President on Media and Publicity. (By the way, it was Mrs. Nenadi of the Ministry of Finance that first raised alarm at the massive corruption being perpetrated by some State Governors) There are numerous other unofficial women advisers that Mr. President consults from time to time especially from the ivory towers. (Some of the words of our National Pledge were supplied even as far back as 1976 during his first coming by Prof Mrs. Adeyoyin of the Faculty of Education University of Lagos

President Olusegun Obasanjo’s gender uplift for our women should not come as a surprise. If, his friends in NVS and other media who are digging and furnishing material’s from the President’s past research on our National issues would do their home-work, they would discover that one of the Thesis authored by our President is on the subject: Great Women of The Bible.

It is to the credit of these women appointees however, that none of them disappointed. Their hard work, dedication, honesty and apolitical but patriotic service remain pillars that have sustained the Administration and brought its achievements accolades and recognition outside Nigeria. Should he get third term, it would be nice to have one of these national “gems of inestimable value” as our Vice President. Kudos to Mr. President, kudos to our Amazonian Patriots and thanks to their “significant others” for granting them “leave of absence”!

In the said article, I equally made the following comments among others; among the numerous outstanding federal appointments of women to high caliber positions is the appointment of the Honorable Justice Aloma M. Muktar who becomes the first woman in Nigeria’s judicial history to be appointed to the Supreme Court of Nigeria. Through this appointment, President Obasanjo broke the glass ceiling of female lawyers in Nigeria. It is a historical first. The Supreme Court of Nigeria has always been an all boys club since the founding of Nigeria as a nation.

Honorable Justice Aloma M. Muktar’s appointment gives credibility to Obasanjo’s promise to champion women’s empowerment.

Nigeria, during the Obasanjo’s presidency, have also been blessed with the appointments of many other females, such as Honorable Minister of state, Finance, Mrs. Nenadi Esther Usman, as well as the appointment of Honorable Minister Mrs. Oby Ezekwesili of Ministry of Solid Minerals otherwise known as Madam Due Process. Additionally, Dr. Dora Akunyili of NAFDAC and Mrs. Chikwe the former Minister for Aviation, and Mrs. Ojomo, who served as Minister for Housing. Nigeria’s Federal Internal Revenue Service is headed by Ms. Ifueko Omoigui and Nigeria Stock Exchange (NSE) is presided over by Mrs. Onyiuke. Mrs. Chinwe Nora Obaji the Minister for Education and Mrs. Halima Tayo Alao Minister of state, Education, Minister of state, Health Chief Mrs. H.U Esuene Presidential Liaison Officer Senator Florence Ita-Giwa, Mrs. Grace Ogwuche is one of the new cabinet ministers. Professor Joy Ugwu, Minister, Foreign Affairs. This is by no means exhaustive list.

President Yar’Adua has also promised to appoint and ensure the appointments of female to greater percentage of public office positions. These are simply extraordinary and outstanding times! Successive gender equality progress. Especially considering Nigeria’s bleak gender past.

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