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10th Assembly: Dying tales of women in politics

Twenty-four years since the return of democracy, there is still growing concern over low representation of women in both elective and appointive positions. 

The results from the recent National Assembly polls leaves much to be desired as the number of women that will have seats in the 10th National Assembly will be less than those in the current 9th Assembly. 

This is because the result of the election is a far cry from the theme of the 2023 International Women’s Day, which reads “Embrace Equity”.

Those who had last year thought that women representation in the parliament and other elective offices would get a boost at the 2023 elections, had their hopes dashed by the results from the polls. 

Women constitute over half of the population of the world and contribute in vital ways to societal development generally. They assume key roles, which include mother, caregivers, educators, entrepreneurs, political activists, just to name a few.

Despite all of this, women are still being excluded, marginalised and underrepresented in political realms and other sectors of the economy, due to some cultural stereotypes, abuse of religion, traditional practices and patriarchal societal structures. 

The push

In Nigeria, the extant National Gender Policy (NGP) recommended 35 percent affirmative action and sought for a more inclusive representation of women with at least 35% of both elective political and appointive public service positions respectively. 

In 2020, female lawmakers in the Senate and the House of Representatives stepped up the push for greater representation of women in politics and other sectors of the society. 

The lawmakers who expressed their views at a two-day training and advocacy workshop for federal and state female lawmakers on gender responsive legislation, in Abuja, called on President Muhammadu Buhari to forward an Executive Bill to the two chambers of the National Assembly on 35 percent affirmative action. 

However, despite efforts by women folk to ensure more inclusion of women in political leadership, the country constantly declines in terms of stepping up the push. Every Assembly to no avail, as part of their legislative agenda, always promise to make efforts to allow more women to participate in politics and governance. 

Last year, the lawmakers rejected five gender bills, prompting protests by women at the entrance of the National Assembly in Abuja. 

For days, the women besieged the entrance of the National Assembly and demanded the reversal of the bills. 

Following the protests, the House of Representatives rescinded its decisions on three out of the five bills. 

The House rescinded its decision on the bill that seeks to amend section 26 (2a) of the 1999 constitution by opening citizenship registration to males and females. This means that if the bill is passed, foreigners married to Nigerian women can apply for Nigerian citizenship. 

Similarly, the other bill seeks to alter Sections 31 and 318(1) (the Interpretation Section) of the 1999 Constitution to allow a woman to become an indigene of her husband’s state after at least six years of marriage. 

Also, another seeks to amend Section 223 of the 1999 Constitution to provide 35 percent affirmative action to ensure women occupy at least 35 percent in political party administration. 

However, the bills that sought to create extra seats for women in legislative Houses and the 20 percent quota for women for appointment into federal and states cabinets were not considered. 

Current state

Current statistics shows that women constitute only 11.2 percent of the membership in both chambers of the 9th National Assembly, with seven females in the Senate and 11 in 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 in 2020, the number had reduced to 18. In all, there are seven serving female Senators and 13 House members. The female Senators include, Oluremi Tinubu, Stella Oduah, Uche Ekwunife, Betty Apiafi, Eyakenyi Akon, Aishatu Dahiru, and Abiodun Olujimi. 

In the House of Representatives, there are the Deputy Majority Whip, Nkeiruka Onyejeocha (APC/Abia); Beni Lar (PDP/Plateau), Lynda Ikpeazu (PDP/Anambra), Khadijat Abba-Ibrahim (APC/Yobe), Zainab Gimba (APC/Borno), Blessing Onuh (APC/Benue), Boma Goodhead (PDP/Rivers), Aisha Dukku (APC/Gombe), Adewunmi Onanuga (APC/Ogun), Omowumi Ogunlola (APC/Ekiti), Tolulope Akande-Shadipe (APC/Oyo), Taiwo Oluga (APC/Osun) and Miriam Onuoha (APC/Imo). 

For the incoming 10th Assembly, the results of the elections showed a general decline in female representations at the National Assembly. 

378 women ran for various seats in the just concluded Senate and House of Representatives elections, but only 17 were successful. 

This puts women’s representation in the incoming 10th Assembly at 3.62%, although there are Senatorial Districts and Federal Constituencies areas where supplementary elections are to be held in the weeks to come. 

The number of women that will have seats in the House of Representatives in the forthcoming 10th National Assembly will be three less than those in the current 9th House. This is just as all the females currently in the Senate lost their re-election bids in the last election, with only three women elected to the chamber for the next Assembly. 

They are Ireti Kingibe (LP/FCT), Harry Banigo (PDP/Rivers) and Idiat Adebule (APC/Lagos). 

For the House, out of the above named 13, seven were re-elected. They are Lar, Onuh, Gimba, Abba-Ibrahim, Goodhead, Onanuga and Onuoha. 

There will be seven new members in the House. They are Obiageli Orogbu (LP/Anambra), Fatima Talba (APC/Yobe), Clara Nnabuife (YPP/Anambra), Marie Ebikake (PDP/Bayelsa), Maureen Gwacham (APGA/Anambra), Ehriatake Ibori-Suenu (PDP/Delta) and Regina Akume (APC/Benue). 

For National Assembly membership, 1,101 candidates vied for the 109-seat Senate and 3,122 for the 360-seat House of Representatives. Out of these, 3,875 were males and 381 females, including one for presidential, 92 for Senate and 288 for House. 


There is therefore the need for government to remove all challenges and barriers to women advancement in governance. This only brings to the fore the need for the lawmakers to revisit the bills that sought to create extra seats for women and the 20 percent quota for women for appointment into federal and states cabinets not just for inclusion and equality but for the need for all round development of our dear Nation.

The federal Government needs to expediate action in the signing and implementation of the three gender bills especially the 35 percent affirmative action. Countries like Rwanda and South Africa have had as much as 50 percent of political positions held by women.

Women need to be trained in the fundamentals of politics. They need to understand the importance of grassroot politics and the need to start from there if they want to succeed in the game. 

The media also has a key role to play by changing their attitude towards coverage of women. It is important for them to show women in ways that are relevant to leadership and governance. The media should educate the citizens of the dangers of cultural norms and harmful gender stereotypes to change the tide.

Writing by Ibrahim Shehu; Editing by Annabel Nwachukwu and Julian Osamoto