Nigeria has been grappling with low female representation in politics, with the Inter-Parliamentary Union Women ranking the country 182 out of 186 for women’s representation in the national parliament. Despite this, there have been a few women who have held positions as senators in the country. In this article, we will explore the history of female senators in Nigeria.
Overview Of The Senate
The Senate is the upper chamber of Nigeria’s bicameral legislature. Established under Section 4 of the 1999 Constitution, it consists of 109 senatorial seats with the 36 states divided into three senatorial districts, each electing one senator through the implementation of the First-Past-the-Post electoral system. The Federal Capital Territory also elects one senator using the First-Past-the-Post electoral system.
History Of FCT Senators
The Federal Capital Territory has had a few senators over the years. Daniel Yakwo served in the position in the second Senate, appointed by the late former president of Nigeria, Alhaji Shehu Shagari (1979 to 1984). Hassan Asa Haruna Tadanyigbe of the Social Democratic Party was elected on July 4, 1992, to represent the FCT in the Senate. After a 16-year-long military rule, Nigeria returned to democratic rule in 1999 following the announcement by Abdulsalam Abubakar, transitional Head of State of Nigeria.
First Elected Female FCT Senator
Khairat Abdulrazaq-Gwadabe was elected as the Senator representing the Federal Capital Territory in the Senate from 1999 to 2003, making her the first elected female senator representing the FCT. Others who succeeded Ms Abdulrazaq-Gwadabe as FCT Senator include Isa Mania (2003-2007); Adamu Sidi Ali (2007-2011); Phillip Tanimu Aduda (2011-2023); and Ireti Kinigbe (2023 – till date).
Chief Franca Afegbua: First Elected Nigerian Female Senator
Chief Franca Afegbua, an internationally recognised hair stylist, was elected senator in 1983. She contested in the 1983 elections under the National Party of Nigeria and won the Bendel-North Senatorial District seat. Despite being in the opposition party at the time, she was praised for her resilience in contesting the election. In a 2022 interview, she said, “I think there has been some improvement since my time. There was no woman in the senate before me then, but there are women now. Then, I was the only woman, but now, there is more than one. I believe the number will increase gradually.”
Wuraola Esan: First Appointed Nigerian Female Senator
Wuraola Esan, a political activist who campaigned for women’s and girls’ education, was the first female member of the Nigerian Senate in the First Republic. She was appointed to the Senate by the Western Region under Obafemi Awolowo’s Action Group party in 1960. She actively participated in the Nigerian Youth Movement, the National Council of Nigeria, and Cameroons.
Despite the low representation of women in Nigerian politics, there have been a few women who have held positions as senators in the country. Khairat Abdulrazaq-Gwadabe was the first elected female senator representing the FCT, Chief Franca Afegbua was the first elected Nigerian female senator, and Wuraola Esan was the first appointed Nigerian female senator. It is hoped that more women will be encouraged to participate in politics and hold positions of leadership in Nigeria.