The outgoing Goodluck Jonathan administration for five years threw up some very powerful women with three of them ostensibly breasting the finish line come May 29. They are Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Diezani Alison-Maduekwe and Dame Patience Jonathan. A new set of women will soon begin to hold sway in and around Aso Rock and hopefully they won’t engage in lovers’ bickering, squabbles and fisticuffs as some of those who served Jonathan’s government.
Following the electioneering process and the women who featured most prominently at APC presidential campaigns and rallies plus those who made the eminent list of Buhari’s transition committee – the one that is giving Jonathan and his men serious handover migraine – these are the women who should top the female power list in Buhari’s government…
AISHA BUHARI will be Nigeria’s first lady come May 29 when her husband gets sworn in as Nigeria’s 15th Head of State. Although she once said publicly that she is happy to be just what the constitution allows her to be and nothing more, HAMILTONSTYLE suspects that she is too well educated not to push or be pushed to the fore. But definitely not in the same brash ways as Patience Jonathan made the headlines.
Aisha Buhari, 44, was born in Adamawa State on February 17, 1971 to the family of Nigeria’s first Minister of Defence, Mohammadu Ribadu. She was raised in the Fulani traditions and cultures . She speaks English and Arabic fluently. She earned a bachelors degree in Public Administration from the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, and a post-graduate diploma in cosmetology and beauty from the Academy Esthetique Beauty Institute of France in Dubai. She is an alumnus of the Carlton Institute of London and is currently a graduate student of International Affairs and Strategic Planning. She is a mentor to aspiring cosmetologists and a consultant to the KRCP/NNPC on skills acquisition.
She got married to Buhari on December 12, 1989, just two months before her 19th birthday. She is a member of the United Kingdom Vocational Training and Charitable Trust (VTCT) and theInternational Health and Beauty Council (HBC). Aisha Buhari is a consummate politician and a fiercely devoted wife to Buhari. She has five children for him; Yusuf, Amina, Zarah, Halima and Aisha.
OLUDOLAPO OSINBAJO is the wife of Nigeria’s incoming Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo and grandchild of the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo. She is the leader of the Ladies Fellowship of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Jesus House Parish, which her husband pastors, and a prayer warlord, insiders told HAMILTONSTYLE. She has three children for the VP-elect.
She authored a book for the redemption of urchins – ‘They Call Me Mama, From the Under Bridge Diaries’ which she said was inspired by her experiences with some street boys and men in Lagos State. “My weekly visits to the ‘boys’ in their hideout under the bridge for several years has filled me with unforgettable stories. Reminiscences of these times are the focus of this book. Our original meeting spot which was lovingly referred to as ‘Under’ has been transformed to the Muri Okunola Park” she said, a dogged social ‘redemptioner’ who says no to rape, slavery and violence against women.
OLUREMI TINUBU is a Senator of the Federal Republic and wife of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, national leader of the All Progressives Congress. Although she is older than Aisha and Oludolapo, she already has a primary duties well cut out for her as a two-term Senator representing Lagos Central. She is an educationist, administrator, philanthropist and Officer of the Order of the Niger. She was an exemplary First Lady of Lagos State between 1999 and 2007 during which period she founded the New Era Foundation; a non-profit organisation, dedicated to youth development, girl-child education, women empowerment and inspiring youths to excellence.
She may head one of the sensitive committees in the upper legislative chambers as a returnee to the upper house. As a senator, she hosts a quarterly town hall meeting with her constituents to render accounts of her stewardship and obtain feedbacks on their developmental needs. To date, she has sponsored three bills to provide Social Security for Elderly Citizens; seek the Amendment of the Labour Act to enhance employment opportunities for women and a bill to provide Special Economic Assistance to Lagos State in view of its status as a former capital city and the commercial capital of Nigeria.
ABIKE DABIRI-EREWA, Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Diaspora Affairs is a force to reckon with inBuhari’s administration. The dexterity with which she coordinated the APC presidential campaign alongside a senator-elect, Dino Melaye, has further endeared her to the party. She was first elected into the House of Representatives to represent Ikorodu Constituency of Lagos State in 2003 and re-elected in 2007. She also won re-election in 2011.
The former Chairman, House Committee on Media and Publicity, had sponsored a number of significant bills that were passed by the Parliament, including the Freedom of Information Bill; a bill for an act to ensure full integration of Nigerians with physical disabilities and eliminate all forms of discrimination against them; the Nigerian Infant Health Welfare Bill (ensuring every child under five receives free medical care); Nigerian Diaspora Commission Bill; a bill to repeal Nigerian Press Council Bill and replace it with the Nigerian Press and Journalism Council Bill (strengthening the NPC and promote responsible journalism and protect the welfare of journalists in Nigeria).
Dabiri-Erewa did not contest for any elective office in the just concluded general elections, but her performance as Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Diaspora as well as her activities during the APC campaign plus her brilliant media career as former presenter of NTA Newsline may earn her a ministerial appointment in Buhari’s cabinet.
RAMATU ALIYU is the President-General of the Global Women and Youth Empowerment Strategy and will no doubt command much respect in Buhari’s administration by virtue of her position as the APC Woman Leader. She significantly mobilized the electorate, especially women, to collect their Permanent Voter Cards.
“The collection of the PVCs represents a veritable instrument to ensure that the people, to whom power resides, exercise their franchise in the legitimate pursuit of free choice and popular sovereignty. Nigerian women constitute over 50 per cent of active voters during elections in the country. It is therefore, important that they avail themselves of the historic opportunity offered by the exercise to strengthen their electoral value and consolidate their demographic advantage, especially in the 2015 general elections”Aliyu had said in Abuja.
AISHA JUMMAI ALHASSAN grew in popularity grew after she defeated three male aspirants to clinch the APC governorship ticket at the party’s primary election held at Jolly Nyame Stadium, Jalingo, amid heavy security. She would have been Nigeria’s first elected female state governor. Although INEC declared the PDP candidate, Darius Ishaku, winner of the Taraba State governorship election, APC’s candidate in the poll, Senator Aisha Alhassan, has demonstrated that she is a force to reckon with. She is a lawyer and rose to become Taraba State’s Attorney-General and Commissioner of Justice. She was appointed the Chief Registrar of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, on December 17, 2003. After she retired from service, she won election on the PDP platform to represent Taraba North Senatorial District in 2011, but defected to APC to seek the latter’s governorship ticket ahead of the 2015 general elections.
BOLA ADESOLA is a lawyer and banker; one of the only two women appointed onto Buhari’s transition committee. She joined Standard Chartered Bank Nigeria Limited in 2011 as the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer. Her main responsibilities included the provision of leadership for the group in Nigeria, through the development of overall country strategy/direction; the provision of leadership on corporate governance issues; and the achievement of the overall country’s financial and headcount budgets. Prior to joining Standard Chartered Bank, Adesola served in senior leadership capacities in Citibank Nigeria and Tanzania for almost a decade. She also served as Managing Director of Kakawa Discount House Nigeria and Executive Director in First Bank Nigeria, with responsibility for managing its Lagos Directorate including retail, corporate and commercial banking. She is married with children, and her hobbies include reading and travelling. A quintessential technocrat, Adesola may well be Nigeria’s next finance minister who must watch out for all the pratfalls that highly qualified Okonjo-Iweala fell into.
ADENIKE ABODERIN is the Group Head, Large Corporates at Skye Bank – the ‘Lagos State Bank’ since Tinubu’s years as governor. Her professional profile is scarcer than Adesola’s but as the only other woman in the committee, she is just as well placed for a significant appointment in the new administration. Interestingly, both Adesola and Aboderin have pulled down their Linkedin profile. Perhaps a subtle proof that their status will change soon.
TEMI HARRIMAN was one of very few women on Buhari’s presidential campaign committee. She was amember of the House of Representatives and is known to maintain a low profile. In exceptional instances, she comes out of her shell especially when it pertains to matters of national interest. She has been even quieter in recent times perhaps due to her personal losses. First it was her first son, Aboyowa, 25, who was involved in a ghastly motor accident in Ikoyi, Lagos in 2012. Barely two months later, her father, Chief Hope Harriman, also died. But by being on the campaign trail, she is more than likely to get a juicy empathy appointment.
SHARON IKEAZOR was the Women Leader in Buhari’s old party, CPC, which merged with other political parties to form APC. Though she hails from Anambra, Sharon Ikeazor was born in the north. A lawyer by training, Ikeazor joined politics because of her yearning to influence policy making and governance. “Being a lawyer did not afford me the opportunities I wanted to influence policies in Nigeria. It hasn’t been easy though but we just have to keep at it because in our culture, men are not used to having women stand beside them, doing the same things they are doing. Some don’t even want to hear women speak and that is why I tell women, ‘before you speak understand what you are talking about so that the men can listen’. What men don’t know is that women have been playing politics ever since they were born – in the family setting, especially a polygamous home, it is all about politics. As a market woman you have to play politics with your customers and fellow market women. Life is politics and politics is life” she says.