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Hail To The Trailblazers In Politics And Arts

By Solomon Fowowe and Timilehin Omilana and Leo Sobechi and Gregory Nwakunor 31 March 2019   |   11:31 am

FROM the party primary elections, they jumped various huddles and ambush laid by the domineering men. They displayed grit, grace and grounding in the power game. At the end of the highly competitive National Assembly elections, we see these amazons putting victory beyond their male rivals as the coast home with the laurels of fresh berth at the red upper chamber of Nigeria’s federal legislature.

Take a bow, Senators Remi Tinubu, Stella Oduah, Rose Okoh, Uche Ekwunife and Aishatu Dahiru Ahmed; you have overcome and manifest true representation of not only your respective districts, but also the womenfolk. You are five in number out of the 100 so far certified as members to be of Nigeria’s 9th Senate.

The significance of that number is that like fingers of the human hand, the five ladies have brought life to the necessity of gender inclusion and social balance in decision making. Their emergence could not be traced to the much-talked about affirmative action: It was not a token gift rather it came as a tribute to their activism, fighting spirit and demonstration of the fact that their agenda transcend gender.

At a time when the number of women in the National Assembly continues to deplete like the ozone layer, these five have defied all odds to find their spaces among men whose masochism disdains chivalry and spirit of accommodation. The stories of how they overcame are as enthralling as they are intriguing in their variety:

Aishatu Dahiru Ahmed

FOR Aishatu Dahiru Ahmed, victory did not come as a stroke of luck. After representing Yola north/South/Girei Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, she sought to up her game into the Senate under the platform of Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM) in 2015.

Although she was not successful in that bid, she learned some useful lessons and persevered in her determination to serve Adamawa Central Senatorial District as their Senator. Of course, with the period spanning 2011 through 2015 that she was in the Green Chamber of the National Assembly, her contributions both during plenary and at some of the committees she served as member, particularly the House Committee on Constituency Outreach, which she chaired were sterling.
It was based on those shining contributions that her constituents began to commend Binani, as she is fondly called, with the pleasant compliments, such that wherever she went in the constituency women and children kept shouting kinyi, mun gani (We are witnesses of your good deeds).

What are those things that won Binani the admiration and popular acclaim of the people? She found philanthropy as her potent weapon for improving the living standard of the people, particularly her outreach programmes in healthcare. Through those interventions, she was able to undertake 450 cataract surgeries, as well as donated more than 1,100 free eyeglasses to patients. Her medical mission also provided 100 gynaecological surgeries, mass HIV/Aids testing and counselling, free ultrasound scans and outpatient consultations. In her commitment to lifting the conditions of expectant and nursing mothers, Aishatu sponsored the construction of a 17-bed maternity hospital, which is popularly called Binani Maternity and Childcare Hospital. The sprawling facility at Lauru Tambo is fully equipped with modern facilities.

She crowned her prodigious efforts with a donation of 20 incubators, 15 to the prestigious Federal Medical Centre Yola and five to the specialist hospital in order to reduce the increasing rate of maternal mortality and neonatal morbidity among premature babies as well as provide suitable conditions for newborn babies and enhancing their chances of survival.

When therefore after the February 23 presidential and National Assembly elections, the Returning Officer, Buba Jakusko, announced that Mrs. Aishatu Ahmed Dahiru scored 188,526 votes to beat two men, Murtala Chibado and Mustafa Madawaki of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and African Democratic Congress (ADC) who scored 96,530 and 36, 030 votes respectively, the shouts of joy were overpowering. For those who may not know, Adamawa Central Senatorial District comprises the area Binani represented in the House of Representatives, Yola North/South/Girei and Fufore, Song and Gombi Local Government Areas (LGAs) of Adamawa State.

It is that electoral victory and triumph over socio-economic and cultural barriers that puts Hon. Aishatu Dalhatu Ahmed Binani on the threshold of becoming the only female Senator-elect from the entire northern Nigeria in the forthcoming 9th National Assembly. This, indeed, is the age of the woman!

Uche Lillian Ekwunife

IF Mrs Uchenna Lillian Ekwunife is a car, she could be said to possess the body of Toyota and a Mack Engine. Like Aishatu Ahmed, Ekwunife honed her legislative skills in the House of Representatives where she enjoyed two terms as the lawmaker representing Anaocha/Njikoka/Dunukofia Federal Constituency from 2007 through 2015.

From 2007 when she left her banking job to join politics, Uche Ekwunife has continued to mesmerize the men in successive election cycles. She earned her nickname IYOM from her effable manner and close connection with the masses. Within eight years in the House of Representatives, Uche became a household name in the Anaocha/Njikoka/Dunukofia axis, which happens to be about the largest federal constituency in the country. Whenever the name Iyom is mentioned, people are wont to peep from windows expecting to see a throng of women. Such is the measure of her popularity that in 2015, after she moved away in anger from the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) to Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), she did not find things difficult as she contested and dusted the former national chairman of APGA, Chief Victor Umeh in the Anambra Central Senatorial election.

Although the former APGA national chairman pooled resources to truncate her stay in the Senate, where she had already been gifted with the chairmanship of Senate Committee on Petroleum (Downstream), Ekwunife kept her ambition to return to the senate alive so much so that she had to cross over to the unpopular All Progressives Congress (APC) in anticipation of defeating Umeh again at the rerun poll ordered by the court. That was not to be because even the APC she ran to threw a lot of obstacles on her path.

Mrs Ekwunife is the proud possessor of countless chieftaincy titles from various communities and organizations in Anambra State in recognition of her salient contributions to the development of town, country and citizenry. She is Iyom Ugochinyereze Nanwata of Nri, Ada-Ugo Igbo of Igboukwu, Anwanu-Aguluzigbo, Ezinne of Nimo, Ife of Abagana, Ugomba of Agulu and Nnedioramma of Aguata among other honorific titles.

Perhaps the titles come as a way of recognizing her contributions to the provision of development projects and social amenities. For instance from her days at the House of Representatives, Iyom has made it a point of duty to provide transformers to unreached communities like Obeagu and Obe as well as street lighting for places like Akwaeze, Iruowele and Aguluzuigbo.

Through the Emmanuel Ogudebe Scholarship Scheme which she instituted in honour of her late father, Ekwunife has been able to sponsor more than 100 students from indigent families in their university education. Having devised a foolproof means of reaching the grassroots, Ekwunife enjoys the confidence of the electorate such that during the February 23, 2019 National Assembly election, which she contested for the same Anambra Central Senatorial Seat, she got the golden opportunity she craved to trounce the former APGA national chairman again. When she received her certificate of return, Senator Ekwunife assured her constituents of that quality representation remains her abiding motto. For her steady climb through the ladder of politics, which has seen contest the governorship of her home state on two occasions, Senator Ekwunife has shown that women can hold their own against the men folk on a level playground.

Rose Okoji Oko

SHE comes out as cross between a mother figure and school teacher. Yet Senator Rose Oko has continued to bestride the country’s political turf as giant killer. When the 9th Senate is proclaimed, Senator Oko would be one of the proud returnees having won her election effortlessly.

Like Ekwunife and Aishatu, Oko was also a member of the lower chamber in the federal legislature. She contested and won election into the House of Representatives for Yala/Ogoja Federal Constituency in 2011. Her proactive representation and intervention through constituency projects helped in catapulting her to the Senate in 2015.

Oluremi Tinubu

SENATOR Remi Tinubu insists that her strides in the power game should not be wholly attributed to the man she married, but also to her determination to contribute her quota in bettering the lots of the downtrodden.

Remi began to manifest her interest in public affairs when she founded COWLSO, which a Committee of Wives of Lagos State Officials, during her husband’s stint as governor of Lagos State. She mobilized women for ancillary roles in lifting the living standards of the residents and to play complementary roles to those of their husbands in public office. Much of her work includes the outreach programmes to rehabilitate street urchins and weaning young people out of drugs and other antisocial practices. Of the much dreaded and disdained area boys, Remi sees them as her sons; such that she finds it easy to speak the language they understand and make them see the positive side of life.

After two terms in the Senate, there were subtle moves to stop her quest to return to the senate for a third plenary, but insisting that the life of a lawmaker is not circumscribed like those in the executive arm of government. Taking up the gauntlet Remi went to electoral battle and as she did in the two previous episodes she won and presently readies herself to play at a higher level as one of the floor functionaries. The interesting thing about the Senator from Lagos Central is that alongside Rose Okoh and Stella Oduah, she would remain among the few women that peopled the Senate in the outgoing dispensation. They have become constant as the northern star.

Stella Adaeze Oduah

PRINCESS Stella Adaeze Oduah cuts the image of an obstinate politician that depends on her constituents for political progression. In 2017 she reneged on her promise not to contest the governorship of Anambra State. When the processes became too hot for her in PDP, she decided to romance APGA, where it was said she was promised automatic return ticket to the Senate in 2019. But by the time activities for the general election took a definite shape, her presumed benefactors began to sing in confused notes. This made her to retrace her steps and return to PDP, where she secured the Senatorial ticket.

Senator Oduah made her first appearance in the Senate after a controversial stint as a former Minister of Aviation, which was defined by alleged over-invoiced purchase of bullet proof BMW cars. But despite her travails and controversial exit from the federal cabinet, Stella found her way into the Senate as representative of Anambra North Senatorial District. In the recent February 23 election, she secured her re-election after beating 20 other contenders, including Governor Willie Obiano’s preferred candidate.

The Returning Officer, Prof. Hugh Maduka, who announced the result, disclosed that Senator Oduah polled 113,989 votes to defeat Mr. Emmanuel Chinedu (APGA) and Mr Nelson Onubogu of APC, who polled 59,937 and 11,995 votes respectively. For their feats of defeating strong men to member the 9th Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, these five deserve accolades as trailblazing Senate Amazons.

Nigerian Female Artistes: Overcoming Challenges

Gregory Austin Nwakunor

The Guardian Life gathered that male artistes headline public functions, concerts and shows and are the highest paid hip-hop acts. In 2017 and 2018, it was obvious that only a lady was on the list of the top nine earning artistes.

Since Coke Studio began, a lot of Nigerian female artistes, including Waje, Omawumi, Chidinma, Yemi Alade and Seyi Shay have featured in the show that has lined-up stars from across Africa.

Waje

Angered by the lopsided patronage that has not favoured female artistes, the popular singer, Aijuaje Iruobe, popularly known as Waje, who first hit limelight when she was featured in the remake of Do Me, the 2008 hit single released by now defunct music group, P-Square in the early hours of Monday, March 25, shocked her fans when she announced a break from her music career.

Her anger burst through social media with no warning, but a last-second whoosh of harsh sound. In a video titled Music is not for me, which the artiste published across all her social media platforms including Youtube page, the lady said she does not feel ‘music is working for her.’

Waje said she had been investing in her music career and not reaping as much as she should. She lamented that her latest album, which she thinks is one of the best that has come out of the country, has been largely ignored.

She said, ‘UI do not have faith in it anymore. Nobody will say that I have failed or anything. The pint is that I’m not willing to do this anymore. Do you know how much I have invested in this career thing?

“To be honest, I don’t see why I should continue, because it is frustrating. The desire of every entrepreneur is to see proceeds from what they invest in and some sort of awareness that have a product.”

“I couldn’t have released an album after everybody said Waje, your last album was years ago. All the people that said we need an album, where are they?”

The 38-year-old actress said she had lost the excitement of having a music career although she still loves making music. “I don’t have the money for publicity. My music has been taking the bulk of the money and I am not willing to put money there anymore. I don’t want to be in the class of artistes that have failed. I was just thinking that I have gotten to the point where I don’t think it is working for me anymore.”

Outside of music, what would she doing?

Recently, Waje started a media company with her friend and industry mate, Omawumi, and they just released their first film titled, She Is. They both featured in the film. Waje is one of the richest female artistes in the country and her net worth is $1.7 million (N613,309,000).

Tiwa Savage

Tiwatope Savage, known more by her stage name, Tiwa Savage, is currently the biggest female artiste in the country.

When Savage stepped into Nigeria’s musical landscape, she received a lot of ridicule and hostility from people who believed she wouldn’t make it. Many tried to discourage her from settling at home. But today, the professionally trained-musician is one of the most sought after artistes on the continent.

In July 2013, Savage signed an endorsement deal with MTN Nigeria reportedly worth N30 million. She also signed endorsement deals with Pepsi, Forte Oil, and Maggi. Currently, she has a songwriting deal with Sony/ATV Music Publishing. She also signed a management and publishing deal with Roc Nation in June 2016, which she later confirmed via Instagram.

As a singer, her achievements include an MTV Europe Music Awards, MTV Africa Music Award, two The Headies Awards, One Channel O Music Video Award, one Nigeria Music Video Award, and two City People Entertainment Awards.

Savage has been involved in many youth empowerment and breast cancer screening projects across Nigeria. She has also helped to raise money for an organisation that builds schools in her hometown. Tiwa Savage’s net worth is set at $4.85 million (N1,749,734,500).

Simi

Born Simisola Ogunleye, Simi as she is popularly called, started her career as a gospel singer, releasing her debut studio album in 2008 titled Ogaju. Her career came into the spotlight in 2014 after she released Tiff, a song which was nominated in two categories at The Headies 2015 and further brought her to mainstream recognition. Simi is currently signed to X3M Music under which she released her second studio album Simisola.

Her professional musical career started in 2008 following the release of Ogaju, which consisted of a variety of songs such as Iya Temi and Ara Ile with the entire musical production from Samklef.

Later in 2015, Simi won the “Most Promising Act to Watch” category at the 2-15 Nigeria Entertainment Awards. Upon the release of a single titled Jamb Question, which later featured Falz in the remix. Simi was listed as one of the artistes to watch out for in 2016.

Apart from singing and songwriting, Simi is also a sound engineer. She is credited to have mixed and mastered Adekunle Gold’s Gold album, which was released in July 2016. Her music style is basically hinged in the rhythm and blues, soul and hip-hop genre of music. Simi is worth $700,000 (N252,539,000).

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