Women Behind Nigeria’s Most Powerful Politicians
As often said, beside every successful man, there is a woman. It has just come to the fore that every successful politician has a woman of great influence who plays along with him. If it was the man’s spouse, it is considered better because courage and support are brood right from home. This is more so, considering the fact that no woman will watch her husband record a public and documented failure during his stay in office.
Leadership presents some selected Nigerian women who are considered powerful themselves, and who also rally round their husbands. They are seen as the women behind powerful politicians in Nigeria. They are:
DAME PATIENCE JONATHAN:
As it stands now the biggest influence on the Nigerian political landscape is undoubtedly President Goodluck Jonathan. President Jonathan’s ascending political profile since the advent of this democratic dispensation is a feat that is rarely achieved. Yet one cannot glorify him and underestimate the role played by his spouse, Dame Patience Jonathan. It is believed that Patience wields much influence on Jonathan’s political decisions. For instance, it was
rumoured recently in some quarters and carried by some media that Lady Jonathan, who is known to be a strong advocate of women rights and growth, might have influenced the expulsion of the Rivers State governor, Rotimi Chibuike Ameachi, by the State chapter of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) as there has been a face-off between her and the Governor who are both indigenes of the State. Dame Patience pursues the course for the empowerment and respect for the rights of women with unprecedented zeal. She was known for this course even right from when her husband was Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State.
Patience, who has a BSc. in Biology and Psychology from the University of Port Harcourt, was born in 1957 into a respectable Christian family of Lazarus Iwari-Oba in Port-Harcourt.
AMINA SAMBO (OFR):
Mrs Amina Sambo (OFR) is the wife of Vice President Namadi Sambo, and therefore Nigeria’s Second Lady. She was Kaduna State’s First Lady between 2007 and 2010 when her husband was governor of the State. As a background influence to her husband, she must have been a good companion and adviser, contributing to the political ingenuity that has seen him to the topmost echelon of Nigerian politics today.
Mrs Amina Sambo was born in Riyom, Barikin Ladi Local Government Area of Plateau State, Nigeria. She had her primary education at Girls Boarding School, Gindiri, Plateau State, after which she enrolled for a Nursing course before she had her secondary education. She is currently the Executive Director of the Grassroots Health Organisation of Nigeria (GHON).
She coordinated a national programme on the prevention of Vesico Vaginal Fistula (VVF) towards safe motherhood in Nigeria, and was a consultant on delivery at the Centre for Development and Population Activities (CEDPA) projects in northern Nigeria. In view of her outstanding achievements and contributions to national growth, she was conferred with the award of Officer of the Federal Republic (OFR) by President Jonathan.
SENATOR (MRS) DAISY DANJUMA:
She is the wife of Theophilus Yusuf Danjuma, a retired General who, by virtue of his philanthropic gestures has received various awards and titles across the country; a man who is now seen by many as a political benefactor and advisor to the political elites, especially those of northern extraction. Senator (Mrs) Daisy, a former senator from Plateau State, is a graduate of Law from Ahmadu Bello University.
In 2003, she was elected Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria where she has served on various committees, most notably, as Chairman of the ECOWAS Parliament’s Women and Children Committee and Chairman, Senate Committee on Women Affairs and Youth Development.
HELEN DAVID MARK:
The Senate President, David Alechenu Bonaventure Mark is married to four wives. They are Omale, Kate, Helen and Randa. Mark, who represents Benue South federal constituency, is a former military governor of Niger State. He was first elected into the Senate in 1999 and has clinched the position till date. He is indeed, one of the influential political figures in Benue State, if not the most powerful and sophisticated politician in the state.
Senator Mark enjoys a lot of support from all his wives, one of whom is Helen, who often identifies with him in his political struggles and is often seen with him in official outings.
HAJIYA INNA MARYAM CIROMA:
Former minister of Women Affairs and current Acting Managing Director, National Inland Waterways Authority, Hajiya Inna Maryam Ciroma, is the wife of former minister of finance, Alhaji Adamu Ciroma. Hajiya Inna was born on September 11, 1954 in Biu, Borno State. She attended Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, where she graduated in 1978 with a degree in Political Science. She later obtained a Post Graduate Diploma in Public Administration, perhaps, in her desire to sharpen and equip herself for the task of public service and administration.
Having had several careers cutting across federal civil service, private entrepreneurship and investment, there is no doubt that she is very exposed. Her husband, Adamu Ciroma, is also a former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). He was the chairman of the Obasanjo 2003 re-election Campaign Organisation. This shows how the Ciromas are considered politically weighty and relevant by Obasanjo who was, then, very desperate for his re-election bid. Of course, he needed no less political personalities than the Ciromas whose role in capturing the north was considered un-negotiable.
There is no doubt that Adamu Ciroma is an old pillar in Nigerian politics. In 1979, he was a presidential aspirant on the platform of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN). However, he did not scale through in the party primaries. He also served as NPN secretary. Ciroma was,
at other times, minister of Industries and Agriculture. Behind this unwavering politician who was a respected senior cabinet member during the Shagari administration, Hajiya Inna is the woman that provides all sorts of encouragement and support.
HAJIA HAUWA DANBABA SUNTAI:
The rave of the moment, Hajia Hauwa Danbaba Suntai is the wife of Governor Danbaba Suntai of Taraba State. Hauwa, a Shuwa Arab from Borno State, is the reliable storehouse of the Taraba governor who was
involved in an air crash in October last year in Yola, Adamawa State, when he was reported to be flying himself in a private jet. Hauwa has been standing by her husband throughout his ordeal, practically demonstrating that what he needed mostly to recover is, perhaps, the affection and emotional therapy of a dear one. During this same time, Hauwa gave birth to twins in USA where her husband was receiving treatment after he was transferred from a German hospital where he was initially admitted.
Just last weekend, her husband was flown into the country from John Hopkins Hospital, USA. Following this, many are still in doubt if the governor is physically fit to function in his capacity as the governor of the state. It therefore, looks similar to the Umaru Musa Yar’adua sickness saga when Turai was practically doing everything possible to rule the country by proxy, thereby, safe-guarding her husband’s position.
Similarly, Hauwa Suntai is being rumoured to be playing the same role to ensure that her husband’s seat is retained. Despite that the Taraba State acting governor, Alhaji Garba Umar, is officially carrying out the constitutional duties conferred on him in the governor’s absence, Hauwa’s influence in the Taraba government house cannot be denied.
DAME JUDITH AMAECHI:
Dame Judith Amaechi is the wife of Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State. She is the founder, Empowerment Support Initiative (ESI), a non-governmental organisation concerned with campaigns against HIV/AIDS, protecting the rights of women and children and promotion of gender equality as well as girl-child education.
Dame Judith was born on December 24, 1970. She attended Federal Government College, Abuloma in Port Harcourt, Rivers State. She later attended Rivers State University of Science and Technology, where she graduated in Urban and Regional Planning. Her husband has suffered high degrees of political crisis in recent times ranging from the imbroglio involving his official aircraft and officials of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) in Akure, Ondo State, an attempt to unseat him as the chairman of the Nigeria Governor’s Forum (NGF) which pitched him against President Goodluck Jonathan and Governor David Jonah Jang of Plateau State, to the recent violence that took over his state assembly in what was unexpected of civilised lawmakers of this century.
Not forgotten is the rift between Amaechi and the commissioner of police in Rivers, Mr Mbu J. Mbu which was interpreted by many as a stage-managed and tele-guided scenario. It is interesting to note that while the wranglings lasted, Dame Judith, like the proverbial rock of Gibraltar, stood closely by her husband with a rare philosophical calmness and in a manner that seems to assure him: “don’t worry; the coast will soon be clear and safe”.
HAJIYA JUMMAI BABANGIDA ALIYU:
Hajiya Jummai Babangida Aliyu is the wife of Governor Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu, the Chief Servant of Niger State, as often referred to. Her husband is one of the most powerful politicians in the country. Aliyu was elected governor of Niger State in April 2007 on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). He was re-elected for a second term on April 26, 2011. Therefore, by 2015, he would have governed the state for eight years.
Also, Governor Aliyu is the incumbent chairman, Northern States Governors’ Forum, a formidable political forum to reckon with. At the pick of the crisis that rocked the NGF, Aliyu, not minding whose ox is being gored, stood his ground and maintained that the embattled governor Chibuike Amaechi should be recognized as the elected chairman of the forum, going by votes cast.
Hajiya Jummai, popularly known as Madam Chief Servant of Niger State, following the nomenclature carved by her husband, is the fountain of courage behind Governor Aliyu. Some of the initiatives she introduced in the state are Women Empowerment, Reforming Prisoners, minimizing and addressing the issue of sexual abuse and ensuring that every Niger child is computer literate.
HAJIYA NANA KASHIM SHETTIMA:
Hajiya Nana Kashim Shettima is the wife of Borno State governor, Alhaji Kashim Shettima. Recently, Nana took a bold and exemplary step by empowering no less than 500 women in the state with soft loans to enable them start petty trading activities. Using Support for Widows, Orphans and Tsangaya (SWOT) Foundation, a pet project founded by her, she was able to bring succour to the less privileged women , most of whom were victims of the serial insurgent attacks and destructions unleashed on the state by the Boko Haram sect.
Recently, during the Ramadan, she distributed cash and food items to 400 Muslim widows and orphans in Borno.
Her husband, Governor Shettima, would have been thrown into a state of political convulsion following the eruption of violent attacks in his state if he were not a man of strong will, added to the support of a wife like Nana. It can be rightly said that since Shettima came to office, he had not had opportunity to peacefully drink water and drop the proverbial cup, having inherited a state that has, overnight, become a training camp and breeding ground for the insurgent group.
However, in good and bad times, Governor Shettima is sure of one thing – the moral support and encouragement of his wife, Nana.
Hajiya Aisha Buhari is the articulate wife of General Muhammadu Buhari. She was born in Adamawa State to the family of Nigeria’s first minister of defence, Muhammadu Ribadu. She is also a granddaughter of the first Chiroma of Adamawa. Hajiya Aisha attended Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, where she bagged a Bachelor’s degree in Public Administration. She also attended Carlton Institute of London and the Academy Esthetique Beauty Institute of France, Dubai, where she obtained a Postgraduate Diploma in Cosmetology and Beauty Therapy.
She is also a graduate of International Affairs and Strategic Planning.
Over the years, as General Buhari continued to pursue his presidential aspiration, she has always done everything within her reach to support him and ensure that he wins election. She once assured Nigerian women during a fund raising dinner for female candidates of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) that if her husband won the presidential election, that women will be given the priority they deserved which would focus on their health, education, and being given opportunity to contribute to the growth of Nigeria. What else can a woman do to further fortify the political fortress of her husband more than what Aisha has done?
JUSTICE (MRS) FATI ABUBAKAR:
Justice (Mrs) Fati Lami Abubakar shares in the fame of her husband, General Abdussalami Abubakar (Rtd) who ended the long military rule in Nigeria by voluntarily handing over power to a democratically elected civilian president. It is one historic gesture that makes these Abubakars unique in Nigeria’s political history. With the growing popularity of the position of First Lady, one would have thought that Lady Abubakar would advise for a stay-on.
However, Justice (Mrs) Abubakar is a success story on her own. She is the first female lawyer, Solicitor-General and Attorney-General of Niger State respectively. She is currently a Judge of the High Court of Niger State.
A second child of the late Waziri of Minna, Alhaji Umaru Audu and Hajiya Nana Asma’u, Justice Abubakar was born in Minna, Niger State. From college, she gained admission to study law at Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, graduating with an LLB in 1975.
JUSTICE (MRS) MARY ODILI:
The mention of Nigeria’s strong politicians can never be complete without the mention of Peter Odili, the immediate past governor of Rivers State, who is said to have nurtured the incumbent governor, Rotimi Ameachi. Justice Mary Odili is the woman that has been behind
Odili as his wife. Mary is currently a Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
Justice Mary Odili was born on May 12, 1952 at Amudi Obizi Ezinihitte, Mbaise Local Government Area of Imo State. She attended University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Enugu Campus (UNEC), where she obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Law (LL.B Hons) in 1976. She had held several judicial positions at one time or the other in Rivers State, Abuja, Kaduna and so on. This legal giant was appointed a Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria on June 23, 2013.
AMBASSADOR BIANCA OJUKWU:
Ambassador Bianca Ojukwu is the wife of Biafran warlord and vibrant politician, late Chief Odumegwu Ojukwu. Before his death, Ojukwu was a national leader of All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), on which platform he had contested for presidency but did not win.
Controversies seem to trail this ethereal beauty, lawyer and business woman and the Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria Pageant winner in 1988, Miss Africa and the first black woman to win Miss Intercontinental, Bianca Ojukwu.
Bianca Odinaka Olivia Ojukwu is the daughter of the legal luminary and former governor of the old Anambra State, late Chief Christian Chukwuma Onoh, of Ngwo, Enugu State. She met the late Ojukwu when she was 22.
MORENIKE FLORENCE SARAKI:
Morenike Florence Saraki is the wife of late Dr. Olusola Saraki, former governor of Kwara State and a politician that wielded enormous power and control in Kwara State. She is the mother of Senator Gbemisola Saraki and stepmother of the former governor of Kwara State, Bukola Saraki.
Florence has been around her husband during his political struggles. The exit of Saraki who has been a stabilizing and rallying factor in the house might pave the way for Florence, the only wife, to be the new force in the family politics.
MRS. MARGARET PETER OBI:
She was born Margaret Brownson Usen. She got married to governor Obi in 1992. Margaret is the brain behind her husband’s National Gender Affirmative Action which encouraged at least fifty per cent slots to women under Obi’s administration. Margaret is known for her humility despite her intelligence which she kept hidden while working intensively and inconspicuously to garner support for her husband’s administration. She is also known for her fierce devotion to women empowerment and child protection activities.
She facilitated the distribution of equipment grants to women cooperatives that are engaged in dry season faming. Thus, promoting their access to factors of production and enhancing their capacity to support their families. She also facilitated the establishment of Family Courts in the state’s Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development (MWAPD) to deal with issues of child abuse and violation of women’s rights especially widows’ right to inheritance.
SENATOR OLUREMI TINUBU:
She is the wife of former Lagos State governor, Bola Asiwaju Tinubu and the National Chairman of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN). In 2011, she contested and won the Lagos Central Senatorial Candidate of the ACN.
Claims of her husband, the ACN National Leader imposing Oluremi on Lagosians as a 2015 gubernatorial candidate for the economic capital without observance of the party’s primary election surfaced in recent months. In June, 2013, in a public address on Channels Television,
Oluremi Tinubu dismissed the claim that she has set her sights on governing seat of Lagos, saying, “My husband did it for eight years … I don’t think I have the strength to say I want to govern the present state of Lagos.”
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