Gender imbalance in Nigerian politics exists despite the country’s return to democratic rule in 1999. Women have cried out about marginalisation when it comes to getting political appointments and electoral positions. The recent primaries for the 2023 presidential election, which saw very few women contest, indicate that female politicians still have a long way to go in Nigeria.
Notwithstanding, some Nigerian female politicians are holding their own in the sector. These women have grown to be regarded as high calibre who can rub shoulders with their more recognised male colleagues in politics. Let’s take a look at the top 10 female politicians in Nigeria.
Top female politicians in Nigeria
Senator Oluremi Tinubu is the wife of the All Progressives Congress (APC) national leader and presidential candidate for the 2023 general election, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. Born on September 21, 1960, in Ogun State, Remi attended Our Lady of Apostles Secondary School Ijebu-Ode and The Redeemed Christian Bible College in 2010, where she graduated with a PGD. She then received a National Certificate of Education in Botany and Zoology from the Adeyemi College of Education before graduating with a Bachelor in Education from the University of Ife.
The former First Lady of Lagos State holds the record of the longest-serving senator from Lagos State with three terms. As it stands, she will become Nigeria’s First Lady if her husband wins the 2023 presidential election.
Stella Oduah Ogiemwonyi is a Nigerian senator and former Minister of Aviation. Born to Igwe DO Oduah of Akili-Ozizor, Ogbaru Local Government Area of Anambra State on January 5, 1962, she studied Accounting and Business Administration for her bachelor’s and master’s degrees respectively, in the United States. Regarded as one of the prominent women leaders in Nigerian politics, Oduah recently clinched a ticket to contest in the 2023 elections for the Senate in the Anambra North Constituency under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) platform.
Abike Kafayat Oluwatoyin Dabiri-Erewa is a former House of Representatives member who represented the Ikorodu Constituency in Lagos State. She was the Chairman of the House Committee on Media & Publicity. Dabiri-Erewa is currently the Chairman of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM).
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Dabiri-Erewa attended Maryland Private School, Maryland, Ikeja, and St. Teresa’s College, Ibadan, for her primary and secondary education, respectively. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English Language from Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) Ile-Ife before proceeding to the University of Lagos, Akoka, for a PGD and master’s degree in Mass Communication. Later, she attended Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government in the United States.
Dabiri-Erewa gained popularity in journalism during her fifteen-year career at the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA). She anchored the Newsline, where she took a particular interest in poverty and social justice issues. She retired from journalism before she joined politics.
Obiageli Ezekwesili is an economic policy expert, advocate for transparency, accountability, good governance and human capital development, humanitarian and activist. She is also the co-founder of Transparency International and one of the pioneers of the global anti-corruption body based in Berlin, Germany.
Ezekwesili was born on April 28, 1963, in Lagos State. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, a master’s degree in International Law and Diplomacy from the University of Lagos, and a Master of Public Administration degree from the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.
Ezekwesili was the Minister of Solid Minerals (2005-2006) and later the Minister of Education (2006-2007). After her appointment was terminated, she became World Bank vice president for the African region. Ezekwesili also championed the Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) campaign to draw global attention to over 200 Chibok Girls kidnapped by terrorists Boko Haram in 2014.
She also contested for the office of the President of Nigeria under the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN) platform in 2019. However, she later withdrew from the presidential race due to opposing views from the party.
Gbemisola Ruqayyah Saraki is the Minister of State for Transportation and a former senator who represented Kwara Central Senatorial District in 2003. She is the sister of the former Senate President and Governor of Kwara State, Dr. Bukola Saraki.
Gbemi Saraki was born on May 5, 1965, and attended the University of Sussex in the United Kingdom, where she graduated with a degree in Economics.
Senator Uche Lilian Ekwunife is a Nigerian politician and member of the 9th Nigerian Senate representing the people of Anambra Central Senatorial District of Anambra State. Born on December 12, 1970, in Igbo-Ukwu, Anambra State, Ekwunife attended the University of Calabar and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Business and Accounting in 1993. She also received an MBA from Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka.
Ekwunife began her career in banking, where she rose to the rank of area manager before joining politics. She was one of the six women elected to the 8th National Assembly in 2015 and defeated All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) chieftain Victor Umeh to be re-elected to the Senate in 2019 under the platform of the PDP.
Ekwunife is also regarded as the most active female senator in the House, which has earned her a ticket for another term at the 2023 general elections in the Senate.
Pauline Kedem Tallen OFR is a Nigerian female politician and the current Minister for Women Affairs Minister and Social Development. She is also the former Deputy Governor of Plateau State, making her the first female deputy governor from Northern Nigeria.
Tallen was born in Shendam, Plateau State, on January 8, 1959, and got a degree in sociology at the University of Jos in 1982. In 1999, she was appointed Minister of State for Science and Technology, under the Olusegun Obasanjo administration, becoming the first woman to be appointed as a minister in that capacity.
In 2015, she rejected an ambassadorial nomination by President Buhari, citing federal character and zoning in her state as reasons. She also contested for Governor of Plateau State but lost to Jonah Jang in 2011. Presently a member of the Board of Trustees in APC, Tallen was honored as Woman of the Year for contributing to Nigeria at the 10th African Icon of Our Generation Award.
Kemafo Nonyerem Chikwe is a former Nigerian Federal Minister of Aviation and current National Women Leader of PDP. She attended Queen’s College of the City University of New York, where she obtained a degree in French. Then she graduated with a doctorate from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, in curriculum education.
Chikwe began her career as a radio journalist, editor, and publisher. She was also the chief executive and publisher of Prime Time Limited, publishers of Ash magazine. In addition, she has published three books, edited some publications, and contributed to several books.
Chikwe was appointed Minister of Transport and then of Aviation by President Olusegun Obasanjo, holding office until May 2003. Later, she contested for Governor in Imo State. In 2009, she became the Nigerian ambassador to Ireland.
Chikwe is also the mother of popular Nigerian rapper Naeto C. When it comes to political contributions in Nigeria; her name ranks very high due to her efforts to bring more women into politics under the platform of PDP.
Nenadi Esther Usman
Nenadi Esther Usman is a Nigerian politician and former Senator for Kaduna South. She also served as the Minister of State for Finance and later the Minister of Finance under the Obasanjo administration. As a senator, she advocated for more attention directed at women and children, whom she calls the most vulnerable members of society.
Graduating with a degree in Geography at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, and later a postgraduate diploma from the University of Jos, Usman runs an NGO called “Education and Empowerment for women” and currently serves as chairperson of the Coalition of NGOs for Women Development in Kaduna State.
Lynda Chuba Ikpeazu
Lynda Chuba-Ikpeazu is a Nigerian female politician and the first-ever MBGN winner in 1986. Her father is the former Chief Justice and two-time NFA chairman Chuba Ikpeazu.
Lynda Chuba holds a bachelor’s degree in communication, a master’s degree in Business Administration, and another bachelor’s degree in Law. She is also one of 11 females out of the 360 lawmakers in the Federal House of representatives. Lynda currently serves as Chair of the House Committee on Maritime Safety and Education. She is one of the most prominent politicians in Anambra State.
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Top female politicians in the world
Here are the top 10 female politicians in the world according to Forbes:
- Angela Merkel – Former German Chancellor.
- Christine Lagarde – President of International Monetary Fund (IMF) and later European Central Bank (ECB).
- Nancy Pelosi – Highest-ranking female leader in the United States, Speaker of the House.
- Ursula von der Leyen – First female president of the European Commission.
- Nicola Sturgeon – First Minister of Scotland.
- Nirmala Sitharaman – Minister of Finance and Corporate Affairs in India.
- Sophie Wilmes – First female leader in Belgium.
- Zuzana Čaputová – First female leader in Slovakia.
- Mia Mottley – First female prime minister for Barbados.
- Najla Bouden Romdhane – First female prime minister both in Tunisia and the Arab world.
Top 10 female leaders in history
- Cleopatra VII – Queen of Egypt (51 BC – 30 B.C)
- Wu Zetian – Empress of China (690 – 705)
- Joan of Arc – Leader of the French Army (1431)
- Queen Elizabeth I – Queen of England and Scotland (1533 – 1603)
- Catherine II – Empress of Russia (1762 – 1796)
- Queen Victoria – Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and England (1837 – 1901)
- Eva Perón – First Lady of Argentina (1946 – 1952)
- Rosa Parks – African-American civil rights activist (1955)
- Indira Gandhi – Prime Minister of India (1966 – 1984)
- Margaret Thatcher – First female Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (1975 – 1990)
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