Amazons That Enliven the Ninth N’Assembly

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Deji Elumoye and Udora Orizu focus on the legislative commitments of some of the 18 female lawmakers in the ninth National Assembly

The Ninth National Assembly, which was inaugurated on Tuesday, June 11, 2019 comprised of 109 Senators and 360 members of the House of Representatives.

Out of the total 479 members of the federal parliament, only 19 were originally female members in the two chambers. But with the demise of a female senator, Rose Oko, early this year, the number had reduced to 18.  In all, there are seven serving female Senators and 11 House members. While some of these lawmakers are active on the floor of the House, others are also prominent in the various committees they head or belong to. The female Senators include, Oluremi Tinubu (APC, Lagos), Stella Oduah (PDP, Anambra), and Uche Ekwunife (PDP, Anambra). Others are Betty Apiafi (PDP, Rivers), Eyakenyi Akon (PDP, Akwa Ibom), Aishatu Dahiru (APC, Adamawa) and Abiodun Olujimi (APC, Ekiti).

In the House of Representatives, the list includes Nkeiruka Onyejeocha (APC, Abia); Khadija Abba (APC Yobe); Lynda Ikpeazu (PDP, Anambra); Onuh Onyeche Blessing (APGA, Benue); Princess Onuoha (APC, Imo), Olukemi Oluga (APC, Osun). Also in the House are Zainab Gimba (Borno, APC), Ogunlola Olubunmi (APC, Ekiti), Aishatu Dukku (APC, Gombe), Onanuga Oriyomi (APC, Ogun), Tolulope Akande-Sadipe (APC, Oyo), and Beni Lar (Plateau, PDP).

Uche Ekwunife

In the Red Chamber, Senator Ekwunife is one of the vibrant legislators in the Ninth Assembly. Representing Anambra central senatorial district, the ranking Senator in the last one year, had moved several motions and sponsored several bills. They include the motion of urgent national importance on the devastating storm in Obosi, Nkpor and Oraukwu communities of Anambra State and motion on the proliferation of fake medical reports from public hospitals in Nigeria.

She also moved a motion on the Digitisation and Automation of Collection and Remittance on Withholding Tax on Bank Deposits and Dividends Payments for Enhanced Internally Generated Revenue, motion on the need to complete the abandoned Greater Awka Water Scheme by the Federal Ministry of Water Resources and Motion on Present Status of 5G Network in Nigeria. Ekwunife, Chairman of the Senate committee on Science and Technology, also sponsored several Bills including: 1999 Constitution (Alteration) Bill 2020, Criminal Code Act (Amendment) Bill 2020, National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion Act (Amendment) Bill 2019, Penal Code Act (Amendment) Bill, 2019, Public Procurement Act (Amendment) Bill, 2019.  Just last week, Senator Ekwunife, as part of her committee work, called for the decentralisation of the Nigerian Army University located in Biu, Borno State.  Speaking at the public hearing for the establishment of the university, the lawmaker stressed that decentralising the Army University will lead to development and reduce crime rate in all the six geo-political zones of the country.  She added that the beneficiary communities where the proposed campuses would be sited would also gladly donate land for the take off of the campuses.

Stella Oduaah

Senator Oduah Stella is a former Minister of Aviation, who served under the regime of President Goodluck Jonathan until 2014.  At the 2019 general election, Oduah was elected to represent Anambra North at the Ninth Assembly. So far, Oduah has moved a motion alongside five other Senators on the need to establish a Visionary Budget-Driven National Planning Framework for Nigeria.  She had also sponsored some bills such as Private Hospitals Regulation Bill 2019, Marriage Act (Repeal and Re-enactment) Bill 2019, Nigerian Latin Village lbadan (Est) Bill 2019, Protection of Personal Information Bill, 2019, National Religious Equity Commission (Est.etc), Bill 2019, Private Hospitals Regulation Bill, 2019, South East Development Commission (Est. etc.) Bill, 2019, Constituency Projects (Budgetary Provisions) Bill, 2019, and Integrated Rural Development Agency (Est. etc) Bill, 2019.

Betty Apiafi

Senator Betty Apiafi, who represents Rivers West, has also sponsored many bills and motions including Criminal Code Act (Amendment) Bill 2019, Federal Medical Centres (Est. etc.) Bill, 2019, Marketing (Breast Milk Substitute) Act (Amendment) Bill 2019, Tertiary Education Trust Fund Act (Amendment) Bill, 2019, Police Act (Amendment) Bill, 2019. She also moved some notable motions such as a motion on the urgent need to intervene in the mysterious deaths in Bonny Island, motion on the need to monitor the Nigerian Flare Commercialisation Programme towards ending Gas Flaring by 2020 and a motion on the 2020 International Women’s Day.

Oluremi Tinubu

Another active legislator in the Ninth senate is Senator Oluremi Tinubu. She is a former first Lady of Lagos State and represents Lagos Central Senatorial District since 2011. Over the years, the series of bills she had supported and sponsored showed her commitment to her principles. In the Ninth Senate, Tinubu, who chairs the Senate Committee on Communications, has sponsored bills like Criminal Code Act (Amendment) Bill, 2019 and Lagos State Special Economic Assistance Programme (Establishment) Bill, 2019.

Abiodun Olujimi

Worthy of mention is Senator Abiodun Olujimi, who is regarded as one of the most experienced female politicians in Nigeria. In the 2019 general elections, she initially lost her seat representing Ekiti South to the APC candidate.  However, the State Assembly Election Tribunal and the Appeal Court later declared her winner of the Ekiti South Senatorial District and was sworn in to the Nigerian Senate by the President of the Senate, Dr. Ahmad Lawan on November 14, 2019.

A former deputy governor of Ekiti State and immediate past Senate Minority Leader, Olujimi on the floor of the Senate has proven an active voice in sponsoring bills with direct effects on not just her people but the generality of Nigerians. She retained the hope for gender inclusiveness and balance in political participation and demography, by reintroducing the gender equality bill. The bill was first rejected in March 2016, when some lawmakers argued that the Nigerian Constitution was clear on the rights of all citizens whether male or female. The bill is titled, ‘Gender and Equal Opportunity Bill, 2019’.

Aishatu Dahiru

A first time member of the Red Chamber, Senator Aishatu Dahiru, who represents Adamawa Central senatorial district, is a former member of the House of Representatives representing Yola North/Yola South/Girei federal constituency as a member of the Peoples Democratic Party in the Seventh Assembly (2011-2015). As a senator in the Ninth Assembly, she sponsored the Modibo Adama University of Technology (Est. etc.) Bill, 2019 and Fiscal Responsibility Commission (Est. etc.) Bill 2019.

Eyakenyi Akon

Another first time female Senator is Eyakenyi Akon, who represents Akwa Ibom South senatorial district in Akwa Ibom State.  A former Minister during the Goodluck Jonathan administration, she sponsored the motion urging the Federal Government and stakeholders to establish computer facilities for proper training of pupils and students in computer knowledge. Akon is also one of the Senators that strongly condemned the anti social media and hate speech Bills, when they were subjected to debate at plenary.

Nkeiruka Onyejeocha

In the House of Representatives, Hon. Nkeiruka Onyejeocha is a ranking and active lawmaker was first elected member of the House for Isuikwuato/Umunneochi federal constituency of Abia State in 2007, and later re-elected in 2015 and 2019.  She often contributes brilliantly to debates on critical national issues in the House and in the last one year, she has sponsored several bills and moved motions for the improvement of the lives of ordinary citizens and help safeguard their rights. Some of the bills she sponsored include, National Youth Service Corps Act (Amendment) Bill 2019, Nigerian Assets Management Agency (Establishment) Bill 2019, Payment Systems Management Bill 2019, Peoples Bank of Nigeria Act (Repeal) Bill, 2019, Psychiatric Hospitals Management Board Act (Amendment) Bill, 2019, Related Products (Registration, Etc.) Act (Amendment) Bill, 2019

Others are Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria Act (Amendment) Bill, 2019, Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (Alteration) Bill, 2019, Loans (State Development) (Repeal) Bill, 2019, National Eye Centre Act (Amendment) Bill, 2019.

The Deputy Chief Whip of the House also moved motions including the one on the need to investigate the spate of accidental discharges by security personnel and forestall the killing of innocent Nigerians, motion on the need to provide security for judicial officers in Nigeria, motion on the need to forestall air crash and near mishap, motion on call for immediate stoppage of human rights abuses, motion on growing gender based violence against Nigerian women, amongst others.

Tolulope Akande-Sadipe

Also vibrant in the legislative activities is Hon. Tolulope Akande-Sadipe. She was elected as the representative for Oluyole federal constituency, Oyo State at the 2019 general election and is currently the Chairman of the House Committee on Diaspora.  Sadipe has gained recognition in the federal legislature for tough stance while engaging the executive during committee meetings. In the past one year, she has been in the forefront of diaspora matters, fostering a more mutually gratifying relationship between Nigeria and her citizens abroad.  She has also been consistent in the fight against human trafficking, organ trafficking and maltreatment of Nigerians in Diaspora. Sadipe has made some legislative and diaspora contributions in the Ninth House and some of her achievements include moving motion on the need to ascertain Nigeria in Diaspora remittances and its impact on the nation’s economy, motion on recent attacks on Nigerian Traders in Circle Market, Ghana. She moved the motion on the need to release abused Nigerian women in Lebanon prevented from returning home, amendment of a motion to tackle sexual harassment of children and minors, Amendment of a motion on the issue of insecurity in Zamfara State to be all-inclusive across the nation.  Other legislative interventions by Sadipe include her contribution at plenary on the Issue of Xenophobia, where she urged the federal government to create additional air lifting opportunities to evacuate Nigerian citizens, who are stranded in South Africa.

She contributed at the debate on the recent increase in the spate of sexual violence against women and girls, proposed and amendment to advocate for security officers to be held culpable if they used their office to aid and abate rapist. She also sponsored a petition on the floor for the rescue of four missing Nigerians in Cameroon and Gabon, Petition on the floor and Appeal to the Saudi Government over the release of Sulaimon Olufemi who had been forgotten on death row in Saudi Arabia.

She steered the legislative mandates of the committee on Diaspora to take cognizance of oversight functions in line with new international realities.  Oversight Hearing with the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) to discuss their mode of operations in the diaspora, Investigative hearing with relevant agencies, Engaged the relevant agencies on the issue of Nigerians Detained at The Maca Prison, Yipogan Town, Abidjan, Céte D’ivoire, Engaged the relevant agencies on the Nigerians Girls Discovered in Modern Slavery in Lebanon And Oman.

Miriam Onuoha

Hon. Miriam Onuoha represents Isiala Mbano/Onuimo/Okigwe federal constituency in Imo State. The lawmaker sponsored the Cannabis Control Bill 2020, (a bill which seeks to regulate the cultivation, possession, availability and trade in cannabis for medical and research purposes).

She also moved a motion of urgent national importance on the need to increase security presence in Okigwe zone to forestall occurrences of unwanted killings of innocent constituents. Recently, with the rising rape scourge, she proposed special courts and speedy trials for rapists.

Onuh Onyeche Blessing

Hon. Onuh Onyeche Blessing, the daughter of retired politician and former Senate President David Mark, defeated her uncle Johnson Egli Ahubi to become the representative for Otupo/Ohimini federal constituency in Benue State.  As a lawmaker in the Ninth House, she has sponsored some motions including the one on the need to tackle the assault and rape of minors and motion on the urgent need to investigate the abandonment of Ahmadu Bello way (federal road) in Otukpo, federal constituency, Benue State.

Zainab Gimba

Hon. Zainab Gimba defeated four men, including an incumbent, to clinch the ticket for the House of Representatives under APC. She eventually went on to win the seat at the general election to become representative for Bama, Ngala, Kala-Balge federal constituency, Borno State. In the past one year, Hon. Gimba has sponsored some bills such as the Federal Housing Authority Act (Repeal and Enactment) Bill, 2019 and the Nigerian Institute of Management Act (Amendment) Bill, 2019.

She also moved the motion calling on JAMB to review the policy on the use of NIN for prospective applicants until 2021 and the motion on the need to address the worsening plight of IDPs and returnees.

Olukemi Oluga

Hon Olukemi Oluga, representating Ayedaade/Irewole/Isokan Federal Constituency of Osun State is another active lawmaker. She had previously served as Special Adviser on Tourism and Culture under the administration of Rauf Aregbesola in Osun State. She’s currently the Chairman, House Committee on Women in Parliament. In the last one year, she moved two motions on the plight of disengaged N-power beneficiaries and the need to improve access of Nigeria students to quality basic education.

She also sponsored several bills including a Bill on National Assembly Budget and Research budget; NASBRO, Bill on Patent & Design Act, 2020; Women’s Representation in Legislative Houses Bill, 2020; Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (Alteration) Bill, 2020 (HB. 796); Federal College of Education, Gbongan (Establishment) Bill, 2020 and Bill on Price Control Act (Amendment) Bill, 2020.

Lynda Ikpeazu

Hon. Lynda Ikpeazu, is one of the most visible lawmakers in the Ninth House of Representatives. The ex-beauty queen turned politician is representing Onitsha North/South federal constituency of Anambra State.

She was first elected in 1999, where she served a single term that ended in 2003. Ikpeazu returned to the House in 2015 and won re-election in 2019. She is currently the Chairman of the House Committee on Maritime Safety.

Some of the bills she’s sponsored in the past one year include Federal Medical Centre, Onitsha, Anambra (Establishment) Bill, 2019, Judgment Debt (Payment Guidelines) Bill, 2019, Judgment Debt (Payment Guidelines) Bill 2019, National Metallurgical Training Institute, Onitsha, Bill, 2019, and United Nations Convention on Arms Trade Treaty Bill, 2019. The aforementioned female lawmakers are few of those that have contributed in no small measures in making the Ninth National Assembly come alive in the last one year through their sponsorship of bills and motions and active participation in committee works as well as other legislative interventions of the Assembly.