There are no female legislators in at least 13 of the 36 state houses of assembly across the country, an analysis by Daily Trust on Sunday revealed.
This does not augur well for participatory democracy, inclusion and fairness when it comes to decision making because only women would clearly articulate the problems affecting them in the society, an expert said.
Out of the 988 state assembly seats across the 36 states of the federation, only 54 lawmakers are female, representing 5.46 per cent, while 94.53 per cent are male.
The picture came to the fore as most of the state houses of assembly were inaugurated after proclamation by governors.
- State Assembly Seats: Kano, Borno, Sokoto, 10 Others ‘Exclude’ Women As Men Clear 95% In 36 States
- Investors spend N42bn on 3.369bn shares at weekly trading
Daily Trust on Sunday reports that the tally, as represented, is according to the outcome of the March 11 state assembly election results as announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
There are no female legislators in Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Imo, Jigawa, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Abia, Osun, Sokoto, Yobe and Zamfara state assemblies where only men dominate.
Observers said the dismal outing of women in politics could be attributed to many factors, among them culture, religion and financial strength to compete favourably with men.
But some male legislators said women were the architect of their problems and should not blame men for their dismal outing during elections.
The population of females in Nigeria was reported at 49.47 per cent in 2021, according to the World Bank collection of development indicators, compiled from officially recognised sources.
Although some female activists in the country have lauded the courage of women to contest in the 2023 elections, the national average of women’s political participation still remains at 6.7 per cent, which is far below the African regional average of 23.4 per cent and the global average of 22.5 per cent.
A breakdown showed the 23 states with female legislators and the percentages of the women in state assemblies as follows: Anambra 3.33 per cent; Kaduna 3.22 per cent; Bayelsa 7.69 per cent; Benue 6.25 per cent; Cross River 8 per cent; Delta 6.89 per cent and Ekiti 23 per cent.
Others are Oyo 6.25 per cent; Taraba 8.33 per cent; Nasarawa 4.16 per cent; Plateau 8.33 per cent; Kogi 8 per cent; Kwara 20.8 per cent; Akwa Ibom 15.3 per cent; Ogun 7.69 per cent and Lagos 10 per cent. Also, Adamawa 4 per cent; Ondo 11.5 per cent; Edo 4.16 per cent; Niger 3.70 per cent; Enugu 4.16 per cent; Rivers 18.75 per cent and Ebonyi 8.33 per cent.
A member of state House of Assembly in the North West, who does not want his name on record, said high profile politics, religion and culture had a role to play in determining what women should be in the society.
He said, “In my state, for instance, which is also a reflection of happenings in many states in the North, women rarely get the tickets of stronger parties; therefore, their chances of winning an election is slim.
“Similarly, very few influential husbands would allow their wives to go and sit with men almost every day during plenary. The society will be looking at you somehow. Hopefully, this will change in the coming years.”
Another male legislator in the North East, who also does not want his name in print, said culture was key to some of the issues around women.
“Some years ago, a woman won a seat in our assembly but she was later given another position outside the legislature; I don’t know why.
“But you know that women could be anything if they so wish, but the truth is that their fellow women are also reluctant in casting their votes for women. You need to go and find out why. Could it be envy? Personally, I don’t know but I know that women have the numerical strength to favourably compete with men,” he said.
South-South tops table
A breakdown showed that the South-South geopolitical zone had the highest number of female state legislators across the country with 10.06 per cent female lawmakers across the six states.
Rivers is on top of the chart with six female lawmakers, followed by Akwa Ibom State with 4 female lawmakers, and Bayelsa and Delta having 2 each, while Cross River and Edo states have 1 each.
The breakdown also showed that the South West, with about 9.09 per cent female representation across five states of Ekiti, Lagos, Ondo, Ogun and Oyo ranked second. However, Osun is the only state in the region without a female lawmaker.
Meanwhile, the North Central geopolitical zone ranked third with 7.79 per cent of female lawmakers across all the six states of Kwara, Benue, Plateau, Kogi, Nasarawa and Niger states.
In the South East, 3.87 per cent of state assembly lawmakers in the region are female. Ebonyi, Enugu and Anambra have female lawmakers, while Abia and Imo states have no female legislators.
The North East also produced three female lawmakers from two out of the six states in the region. While Taraba produced 2, Adamawa has 1. However, Borno, Gombe, Yobe and Bauchi have no female lawmakers. The six states have a total of 156 lawmakers.
The North West geopolitical zone ranked lowest with just 0.93 per cent of females in the region making it to state assemblies.
Out of the seven states in the region, only Kaduna has two female lawmakers, while Kano, Zamfara, Jigawa, Sokoto, Katsina and Kebbi states have no female representatives in the state assemblies. The zone has a total of 214 state lawmakers.
The lucky women
Only 3.33 per cent are female legislators in Anambra State, while 96.6 per cent are male.
Nkechi Ogbuefi, representing Anaocha constituency 1 under Labour Party (LP) in Anambra State House of Assembly, is the only female member at the recently inaugurated 8th State House of Assembly made up of 30 members.
Ogbuefi is a graduate of Philosophy from the University of Benin, Edo State and was a special assistant to a former Anambra State governor, Chief Willie Obiano, on political matters.
She contested to represent Anaocha 1 constituency first in 2013 under the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and also in 2017 under the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) but won in 2023 under the LP.
With 84.6 per cent of legislators in the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly been male, the women occupy only 15.3 percent of seats.
The four women out of the 26-member assembly in the state are Selong Precious Akamba for Urua Offong Oruko constituency; Etim Itorobong Francis for Uruan; Onofiok Kenim Victor for Oron/Udung Uko and Ukpatu Selinah Isotuk for Ikot Abasi/Eastern Obolo constituency.
This is an increase from the previous two female lawmakers elected to the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly in 2019.
In Adamawa, the 25-seat House of Assembly in has only one female lawmaker, which represents 4 per cent.
Meanwhile, 96 per cent of the seats in the state assembly are occupied by men.
The lone female member, Kate Raymond Manuno of the PDP represents Demsa constituency at the state assembly. She was first elected in 2019, then re-elected in 2023.
Only 7.69 per cent of seats in the 26- member assembly in Bayelsa State belong to women. The men constitute a whopping 92.3 per cent. The women include Ebizi Ndiomu Brown, representing Sagbama constituency lll.
Brown, who is a native of Odoni community in Sagbama Local Government Area, was born on July 2, 1966 in Zaria, Kaduna State, to the family of General Charles Ndiomu (retd).
She served the administration of Chief Seriake Dickson in various capacities before her election in 2023.
The second female in the Bayelsa Assembly is Chief Ayibanegiyefa Egba, representing Yenagoa constituency 1 under the PDP.
Born on February, 19, 1969 to the family of Mr and Mrs Frank Igah Egba, Ayibanegiyefa Egba, is a native of Agbura community in Yenagoa Local Government Area of Bayelsa State.
She has a national diploma in Law (2003), Bachelor of Arts in Linguistics (2013), Master of Arts in Linguistics (2019) and a postgraduate diploma in education, (2020).
Her constituents see her as someone who will bring her wealth of knowledge and experiences to make legislations that will promote unity, peace and development in Bayelsa State.
Also, the newly inaugurated Benue State House of Assembly consists of 32-members. Our correspondent reports that of the 32 seats, male legislators have 30, which is 93.7, leaving the females with only two seats, which represents 6.25 per cent.
Mrs Lami Danladi Lawrence represents Ado constituency on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Lawrence is popularly known among her people for her contributions in fostering community growth and youth integration and development.
Mrs Becky Orpin is a veteran broadcaster and former media aide to a former governor of Benue State and currently Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Senator George Akume.
She contested the speakership position of the House but lost by one vote to Hyacinth Dajoh.
Orpin is also a former chairman of Gboko Local Government in Benue State. She won a seat in the assembly to represent Gboko East constituency on the platform of APC.
The veteran broadcaster was earlier tipped for the speakership position of the 10th Assembly.
In Cross River State, there are only two female legislators in the state House of Assembly. Mercy Akpama, representing Yakurr 2 state constituency is of the APC, the ruling party, while Rita Agbo Ayim, representing Ogoja state constituency is of the PDP.
The 25-member state assembly has an 8 per cent female representation and 92 per cent male.
In Delta State, Marilyn Okowa and Bridget Anyafulu are the two female lawmakers in the state assembly. The 29-seat assembly has a 6.89 per cent female representation and 93.1 per cent male.
Marilyn Okowa, who is the daughter of former Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, won on the platform of the PDP to represent Ika North/East constituency.
Okowa, now Marilyn Daramola Gbolahan, was before her election the senior special assistant on girl-child education to the governor of the state.
On her part, Bridget Anyafulu was elected to represent Oshimili South constituency. The 56-year-old child rights advocate, lawyer and ex-Nigerian olympian, is the immediate past Commissioner for Humanitarian Affairs and Community Support Services in the state.
In Ekiti, six women won the state assembly seats out of a total of 26 seats.
This implies that 23 per cent of legislators in the state are women while men constitute 76.9 per cent.
The female lawmakers include Adeteju Okuyiga, Gboyin constituency; Bosede Olowookere, Efon constituency; Bolaji Olagbaju, Ado constituency 11; Maryam Ogunlade, Emure constituency; Fakunle Fakunle Okieimen, Ilejemeje constituency and Christiana Solanke, Moba 1 constituency.
Out of the 24 members in the Edo State Assembly, Maria Edeko Omozele and Natasha Osawaru are the only female members in the house that produced 23 males.
Osawaru os the grand daughter of Edo businessman, Gabriel Igbinedion. She attended Igbinedion Nursery & Primary School, Igbinedion Educational Center, Union High College, John Jay College, Olashore International College, Pace Setters College and Igbinedion University before deciding to further her studies at the Parson School of Design, New York.
She won the supplementary March 28, State House of Assembly election representing Egor constituency under the People Democratic Party. She came to limelight when she won the ticket for the Egor constituency under the PDP. She was elected the deputy majority leader of the Edo State house of Assembly despite being a first timer.
This means that female representation in the state assembly is 4.16 per.
The other female lawmaker in the assembly represents Esan North East 11 constituency on the platform of the PDP.
She resigned as Commissioner for Social Development and Gender to contest the state assembly election.
Similarly, out of the 24 seats in the Enugu State House of Assembly, only two women made it.
Princess Obiajulu Ugwu represents the Enugu South constituency while Jane Ene represents Udi North constituency.
This represents 4.16 per cent of females in the state assembly and 95.8 per cent male.
The Ebonyi State House of Assembly has Mrs Esther Agwu and Chinyere Nwagbaga representing Ohaukwu North and Ebonyi North East constituencies respectively out of the 22 men in the state legislature.
While the percentage of men in the state assembly is at 91.6 per cent and that of women is 8.33 per cent.
The Nasarawa State House of Assembly has one female state lawmaker out of the 24-member assembly. Hajara Ibrahim represents Nasarawa central constituency. This represents 4.16 per cent female representation in the state and 95.8 per cent male.
In Kogi, eight per cent legislators are female while 92 per cent are male.
The two women in the Kogi State Assembly are Mrs Comfort Ojoma Nwuchola from Ibaji Local Government Area and Mrs Omotayo Adeleye-Ishaya, representing Ijumu constituency.
However, there are five female lawmakers in the Kwara State Assembly, which represents 20.8 per cent of females in the state assembly while the male percentage stands at 79.1 per cent.
Rukayat Shittu, 26, hails from Manyan village in Owode/Onire district, Asa Local Government Area of Kwara State.
After her election and inauguration as the youngest member of the 10th Assembly early June, Rukayat solicited for the support of the media and civil society organisations.
Arinola Fatimah Lawal, representing Magaji Are constituency of Ilorin East Local Government of Kwara State is the daughter of the late former Governor Muhammed Lawal.
She is a 1993 graduate of Catering and Hotel Management from the Kwara State Polytechnic and has served as chief executive officer of several firms, including Batool Nigeria Limited, Mohbalamira Nigeria Limited and MirMira Enterprise.
Another female member is Medinat AbdulRaheem, who hails from Lanwa in Moro Local Government Area of Kwara State. A Higher National Diploma (HND) graduate of Public Administration from the Kwara State Polytechnic, Medinat, who once had her stint in catering, is the deputy house leader and a member of the standing committee on health and environment, among others.
Maryam Yusuf Aladi, another female member, hails from Aladi in Balogun Fulani, Ilorin South Local Government Area. She holds a diploma in Public Administration and first degree in Political Science.
Aishat Babatunde Alanamu represents Ilorin North West, Ajikobi/Alanamu constituency in the Kwara State House of Assembly.
The Oyo State House of Assembly has two female members to work with the remaining 30 male members.
This implies that the women occupy 6.25 per cent of seats while men constitute 93.7 per cent.
A 47-year-old Olajide Olufunke Comforter is a first time member who represents Ibadan North 1 constituency.
Bisi Oluranti Oyewo Micheal from Ogbomoso North constituency is an alumnus of the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomoso and holds a master’s degree from the University of Ibadan.
She used to be a nursing assistant in the United States of America.
Taraba State has two female members out of 24 state assembly seats (8.33 per cent women, while 91.6 percent are male).
Hajiya Batulu Muhammed is from Gashaka constituency and Borinica Alhassan from Bali constituency.
Batulu Muhammed Gabdo was elected on the platform of the APC from Gashaka constituency.
She is the daughter of a first class chief, the late Lamdo Gashaka Alhaji Muhammed Hammangabdo.
She is the Sarauniyar Gashaka, a title given to her by her late father.
Veronica Alhassan is the second female lawmaker in the Taraba House of Assembly.
She was elected on the platform of PDP in Bali 1 constituency.
Veronica, who was born on September 27, 1972, is a graduate of Political Education from the Taraba State University, Jalingo.
There are two female lawmakers in the 24-member Plateau State House of Assembly, representing 8.33 per cent women, while 91.6 per cent are male.
The women include Happiness Akawu representing Pengana constituency and Salomi Tanimu representing Pankshin South.
In Ogun, there are two female politicians among the newly inaugurated members of the 10th legislature. They are Bolanle Lateefat Ajayi representing Egbado South constituency and Bakare Omolola Olanrewaju for Ijebu Ode constituency.
Ajayi returned to the assembly for the second time while Bakare is a first timer.
In Ondo, 11.5 per cent seats are represented by female legislators, while 88.46 per cent seats are for male legislators.
Three females won seats in the House of Assembly in the last elections.
Witherspoon Atinuke Morenike, Owo constituency I, was born on June 12, 1959 in Ipele, Owo Local Government Area.
Witherspoon is a seasoned politician and prolific businesswoman. She is the chief executive officer of Molabim General Service Limited, Emure-Ile, Owo, Ondo State.
Fayemi Olawunmi represents Ilaje constituency II on the platform of the APC. She is a humanitarian figure whose utmost concern is an egalitarian society where everyone can access their representatives.
Princess Oluwaseun Ogunlowo-Ajirotutu represents Idanre constituency, while Princess Tosin Ogunlowo-Ajirotutu, popularly known as PTO, is a first female lawmaker who represents Idanre constituency in the House of Assembly.
Ogunlowo-Ajirotutu is the deputy majority leader of the 10th House of Assembly.
In Niger State, there is only one female out of the 27 members in the state House of Assembly.
Mrs Afinike Eunice Dauda represents Gurara constituency. She was elected as the first female Deputy Speaker in the Niger State 10th Assembly during the inauguration on June 13.
She was born on December 23, 1965 in Dikko, Gurara Local Government Area of Niger State. She was a member of the 6th State Assembly on the platform of the defunct All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP).
She was a state coordinator of the Social Investment Programme in Niger when the state was rated as one of the three best performing in the country.
Also, only 3.22 per cent of the state assembly seats in Kaduna are occupied by women while men have 93.5 per cent.
Muneerat Sule Tanimu is the only female member representing Lere East in the state’s 10th Assembly.
She hails from Lere Local Government Area of the state. She is a philanthropist.
She is the current deputy minority leader.
In Lagos, there are 18 men and four women. The four women are Mojisola Lasbat Meranda (Apapa I), Osafile Foluke Stella (Amuwo-Odofin I), Sangodara M. Rotimi (Surulere II) and Omolara Oyekan- Olumegbon (Lagos Island constituency I).
Meranda, who has been in the assembly since 2015, was elected the Deputy Speaker of the 10th Assembly.
Osafile, who contested on the platform of LP, is a new lawmaker in the House of Assembly. She replaced another woman, Sherifat Mojisolaoluwa Alli-Macaulay (APC).
She is an ordained minister of the gospel with a promise to ensure that Amuwo Odofin 1 is well represented.
Sangodara holds a national diploma in Banking from the Lagos State College of Science and Technology. She was first elected in the 8th Assembly in 2015, where she served as Deputy Minority Chief Whip.
Oyekan-Olumegbon, daughter of the former Oba of Lagos, Oba Adeyinka Ayinde Oyekan, is a new member who took over the seat of the Deputy Speaker of the Ninth Assembly, Wasiu Eshinlokun Sanni, who is now the senator representing Lagos Central, a position previously held by the First Lady, Senator Oluremi Tinubu.
She is a graduate of Sociology and International Relations and Strategic studies.
‘Female representation declining’
A report by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), which revealed the proportion of seats held by women in the National Assembly in percentage, indicated that as of 2021, women representation in the legislative arm stood at 3.61 per cent.
Its highest value, according to the report, was recorded at 7.22 in 2020, while its lowest was 3.38 in 2019.
However, the representation of women in the 10th Assembly currently is at 3.62 per cent, with men dominating with 96.3 per cent.
In a 2019 report by the International Republic Institute (IRI) and the National Democratic Institute (NDI), the Nigerian Senate had the lowest rate of female legislative participation in sub-Sahara Africa.
Daily Trust on Sunday reports that according to a 2018 report by the International Institute of Democracy and Electoral Assistance, women held only 14 per cent of parliamentary seats in Nigeria, one of the lowest percentages in Africa.
Gender experts have blamed the declining number of female representation in governance to a myriad of reasons, ranging from the absence of a piece of legislation, cultural factors, violence, and monetised nature of politics in Nigeria, among others.
But while some people complain over the under representation of women in leadership positions in the county, Mrs Felicia Unabo, the national coordinator of the 100 Women Lobby Group, said there seemed to be more women in state assemblies that had ever been.
“While we are saying we do not have many women on board, we are also happy. At least there seems to be more women than we have ever had in the state assembly, which is something good,” she said.
Mrs Unabo said that despite the fact that the country is yet to achieve the 35 per cent affirmative action in state assemblies “women have the capacity to deliver more if given the opportunity,” she said.
On her part, Fatima Zarah, a female activist in Jos, Plateau State, said there was the need to amend the constitution to protect women in power sharing.
“Unless the constitution is amended, women would continue to be sidelined. I am strongly suggesting that certain percentage should be reserved for women at both national and state assemblies.
“This is very important because they would represent the interest of women, and to some extent, the interest of children. Women know the problems of women better, but we are constrained by religion and culture to excel in some areas,” she said.