Newbie, Akon Eyakenyi, is one of seven women newly elected into the 109-member Senate. This is a sign that women can break barriers and enter into high offices in politics. Ugo Aliogo reports
With a paltry four per cent representation of women, the 9th National Assembly is off to a start as the orientation activities for newly elected members draw to a close. In the Nigerian senate women make up seven out of 109 senators. In the House of Representatives only 11 women secured electoral seats out of 360 seats across the country.
Speaking during the orientation exercise in Abuja today, Senate newbie Akon Eyakenyi, representing Akwa Ibom South, said that her election into 9th assembly indicates that women have the capacity to overcome existing barriers. She added that the elections outcome gives her hope that more women will be encouraged to stand for political office in Nigeria.
“I feel truly blessed and I am grateful to my constituency who put their faith in me and elected me to this honourable position. I believe that the only way to show this gratitude is by remaining focused on delivering on their expectations of me as I serve as their representative at the federal level. I hope that many women will see this and take courage to enter into politics.”
Eyakenyi, who is married with children and grandchildren, holds a doctorate in Education from the University of Calabar. She was a Minister of Lands, Housing, and Urban Development under the Goodluck Jonathan government. Prior to this she served as a Commissioner for Industry, Commerce and Tourism in her home state, Akwa Ibom. Eyakenyi says that she hopes to bring her experience and lessons learnt from working within the executive arm of government into the senate, where she will be starting out her first legislative assignment.
“Being a new comer to the legislature is good. Especially because I am coming with the executive experience at the state and federal levels. It means that I understand what kinds of limitations exist at the executive level, which I have to fill as a member of the legislative arm. I am very excited about this.”
She said that her first obligation is to the members of the 12 local government areas of her constituency in the oil-rich Akwa Ibom. She added that deliverables from her end will cover the pursuit of huge capital projects that can create jobs on a large scale for her people but also smaller, community-level projects targeting individuals in her community and small and medium scale businesses.
“I have conducted my research. I know the needs of my people and I will do everything within the limits of my office to deliver on my promises and the expectations of my constituency. In the course of the next four years, I plan to ensure that my people’s voices are heard. My phone line has always been open and it will always remain open. Together with Governor Udom Emmanuel, we will continue to work for the progress of our great state.”