Parliament Spotlight: Franca Afegbua; Nigeria’s First Elected Female Senator

In this edition of Parliament Spotlight, we highlight 12 Facts about Nigeria's First Elected Female Senator, Franca Afegbua
adminMarch 17, 20235 min

In this edition of Parliament Spotlight, we highlight 12 Facts about Nigeria’s First Elected Female Senator, Franca Afegbua. Born on October 20, 1943, her political career was an inspiration for women in politics 



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Image Credit: Policy and Legislative Advocacy Centre (PLAC)

The death of Nigeria’s first elected female Senator, Franca Afegbua, on 12th March 2023 is a reminder of how much the Nigerian woman has put into the journey to make women’s representation in parliament a norm.

She died on Sunday, March 12, 2023 and we examine 12 quick facts about her:



  1. Afegbua was born into an influential family in Okpella, Etsako East LGA of old Bendel State (split into present-day Edo and Delta States). 
  2. A Bulgaria-trained beautician, she ran a luxurious haircare and massage salon in Ikoyi, Lagos and in London. 
  3. In 1977, she won an international hairstyling competition in London, launching her into prominence.

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  4. A community mobiliser, she held the chieftaincy titles of Aidotse of Onwoyeni Town and the Memisesewe of Okpella. 
  5. She was introduced into politics by her spouse; Joseph Sarwuan Tarka, a prominent chieftain of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) and former Transport Minister. 
  6. She became the Women’s Leader in the Bendel State Chapter of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN).

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  7. Afegbua declared her intention to run for the Bendel North Senatorial District seat in 1983, with a campaign focused on wooing women to vote. 
  8. She was perceived as being honest with the electorate and her campaign messaging was also partly around the belief that “women are known to keep their promises.” 
  9. She defeated by a slim margin,  John Umolu of the governing United Party of Nigeria (UPN) in her State; the first non-indigenous Mayor of Port Harcourt and former Agric Minister (Mid-West).

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  10. She was one of the four women who won elections into the National Assembly in the same period; the others being in the Federal House of Representatives. 
  11.  She served in the 95-member Senate for just three months (October – 31st December 1983) before the Military Coup d’etat which ended the Second Republic. 
  12.  She died in the early hours of Sunday March 12, 2023.



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