IWD: Why no incumbent female Senator will return to the National Assembly

This piece examines the performance of incumbent Female Senators in the just-concluded 2023 National Assembly elections
adminMarch 8, 20238 min

The results of National Assembly elections into 98 out of the 109 Senatorial Districts have been declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

This piece examines the performance of women in the just-concluded legislative elections and why they will not be returning to the 10th National Assembly



READ ALSO: “Only 33% of Nigerians voted NASS candidates on individual merit” – OrderPaper




Editor’s Note:

It’s yet another International Women’s Day, and we are presented with the opportunity to reflect on women’s representation in parliament.

According to a 2021 stat from the World Bank, women constitute 49.5% of the Nigerian population. Similarly, women constitute 44.4 million (47%) of the voting population, put at 93,469 008 million as at January 2023 by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Following the conclusion of elections into 98 out of the 109 Senatorial Districts, the fortunes of women in the area of women representation, especially in the apex law-making body in the country, have dwindled drastically. Of the eight incumbent female lawmakers in the Senate, only three sought re-election and were sadly defeated. The other five, for various reasons, did not seek re-election.

Surprisingly, only three (3) of the ninety-two ( 92) female candidates that ran for Senatorial elections across the 109 Senatorial Districts succeeded in the long run. Notably, these 92 female Senatorial candidates constitute only about eight per cent of 1,101 candidates that contested elections into the 10th National Assembly. Of course, this is on the background that only 1,553 of the total 15,307 candidates for the 2023 general elections were women.


Below is a full list of women who are outgoing incumbent female Senators:

  1. Stella Adaeze Oduah (Anambra North, PDP) OUTGOING
    She is Deputy Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Appropriation and has remained a member of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) after a short stint in the All Progressives Congress (APC). 

    With thirty-nine bills sponsored in the last three years, Senator Oduah leads the chart of Female Senators in the Ninth National Assembly based on bill volume. 

    Defeated by Tony Nwoye of the Labour Party (LP), the second-term Senator and former Aviation Minister lost in all the seven local government areas of Anambra North Senatorial District, namely Onitsha North, Onitsha South, Oyi, Ogbaru, Anambra East, Anambra West and Ayamelum.

  2. Uche Lillian Ekwunife (Anambra Central, PDP)  OUTGOING
    A former member of the House of Representatives, she chairs the Senate Committee on Science and Technology.The second-term Senator who has sponsored twenty bills in the last three years (2019 – 2022) was defeated by Victor Umeh of the Labour Party (LP).

    She managed to poll 49, 532 votes against 103,608 votes garnered by Umeh, who gave Senator Ekwunife a run for her money in the 2019 election.

  3. Biodun Christine Olujimi (Ekiti South, PDP) OUTGOING
    A former Leader of the Senate Minority Caucus, the second-term Senator lost her bid to return to the Red Chamber in the February 25 National Assembly Elections. 

    Also, an ex-Deputy Governor of her home state, Ekiti, she has sponsored six bills in the last three years (2019 – 2022). 

    Senator Olujimi scored 36,191 votes; thus losing to Yemi Adaramodu; an incumbent House of Representatives member from the All Progressives Congress (APC), who polled 63,189 votes.READ ALSO: Five Anambra lawmakers sponsored 18 bills or more | National Assembly Scorecard


  4. Oluremi Shade Tinubu (Lagos Central, APC) – OUTGOING
    A third-term lawmaker, Senator Tinubu did not seek re-election into the 10th National Assembly following her spouse’s ambition to become the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

    Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Communications, Senator Tinubu, has six bills to her credit in the last three years (2019 – 2022), including one she has proposed is aimed at reforming the Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST) to make it a more viable entity.Although the result of the Presidential elections was greeted with controversies, the electoral body declared her husband, Bola Ahmed Tinubu as winner of the election and President-Elect. A development that implies that she is most likely to emerge as First Lady of the Federal Republic, barring any contrary pronouncement by the judiciary.


  5. Aishatu Dahiru Ahmed (Adamawa Central, APC) – OUTGOING
    In the case of Senator Ahmed, who is popularly known as ‘Binani,’ she did not seek re-election into the National Assembly following her emergence as the gubernatorial candidate of her party; the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Adamawa State.A former member of the House of Representatives, she chairs the Senate Committee on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and also serves as Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on Information and National Orientation.

    The first-term Senator has, since 2019, sponsored eleven bills and is seeking to make history as the first elected female governor in Nigeria and would be squaring up with the incumbent governor, Ahmadu Fintiri of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP).


  6. Akon Etim Eyakenyi (Akwa Ibom South, PDP) – OUTGOING
    As with Senator Ahmed, she is not seeking a seat in the 10th National Assembly after she was chosen as the running mate to the PDP Governorship Candidate in Akwa Ibom State.A first-term lawmaker, she had three bills to her name in the last three years (2019 – 2022), including a bill seeking the establishment of a University of Maritime Studies, Oron, already passed by the Senate.

    A former Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, her seat in parliament will be occupied by Sampson Ekong Akpan, also from her party.


    READ ALSO: Female Senators sponsored 10.6% of total Senate Bills | National Assembly Scorecard



  7. Betty Jocelyn Apiafi  (Rivers West, PDP) OUTGOING
    The only female Senator from Rivers State, Apiafi had been a lawmaker at the House of Representatives for three terms before moving in 2019 to the Red Chamber, where she chairs its Committee on Women Affairs.

    She currently chairs Senate Committee on Women Affairs and has the highest number (twelve) of bills among the sixteen federal lawmakers from the State in the Ninth National Assembly between June 2019 and May 2022.

    In spite of this, her stay in the Senate was cut short by internal politics within her party. She will, however, be replaced by Senator-Elect Ipalibo Harry Banigo, another woman and incumbent Deputy Governor of Rivers State.
  8. Nora Ladi Daduut (Plateau South, APC) – OUTGOING

    An academic-turned-politician, the lawmaker replaced Senator Ignatius Longjan in December 2020 after the latter’s demise in February 2020.In her time so far at the National Assembly, she sponsored two bills but will not be returning to the legislative chamber.Although she did not contest in the primaries of her party held in 2022, some political watchers believe that she had to step down for the incumbent governor, Simon Lalong, who ran for the seat at the February 25 Polls and lost.Senator Nora will be replaced by Senator-Elect Bali Blinkap Napoleon of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP).


READ ALSO: Female Senator leads Senate Bills Chart (Volume Index) | National Assembly Scorecard



Note: OrderPaper’s appraisal of lawmakers in the core areas of lawmaking is without prejudice to the lawmaker’s performance in the areas of oversight and representation.

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