No doubt, some of the women ministers flaunt impeccable credentials and have distinguished themselves in their chosen career. They had brought their long years of professional competence to bear on governance, though, not without some brushes with their male counterparts and”authority that be.”
In their own ways, they had managed to sail through the tiny eye of a niddle in a male dominated world, particularly in our clime where the trappings of traditions and religion served as an impendiments to in the realisation of their aspirations, writes CHARLES ADINGUPU
Finance Minister, Ngozi Okonjo Iweala’s second coming
Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, is indeed a chip of the old block. Born about 57 years ago to Professor Chukwuka Okonjo, renowned economics lecturer at theUniversityofIbadan, now retired, hails from Ogwashi-Uku inDeltaStatebut married to a medical doctor fromAbiaState, Dr. Iweala. The union is blessed with children.
The Harvard trained economist, has distinguished herself in various field of human endevours. Her first experience in the World Bank came through her internship programme where she got the first experience of the institution.
However, upon graduation, Ngozi applied for the young professionals programme of the World Bank and was subsequently absorbed into the team, the World Bank elites. She continued there with a 21 year career as a development economist at the World Bank with different portfolios signed to her.
Ngozi was first appointed Nigeria’s Finance Minister by the President Olusegun Obasanjo who cajoled her to come and assist in bailing the nation’s economy from the woods she was plunged into by the then immediate military junta of late General Sani Abacha and others before.
The quintessential economist, demonstrated an uncommon courage in putting the nation’s economy back on track as Finance Minister under the President Obasanjo’s administration.
But at the twilight of her struggle, she was jinxed as President Obasanjo redeployed her to the Foreign Affairs Ministry without explanation, but was asked to remain head of the nation’s economic team. While on an official assignment inBritain, Ngozi was relieved as head of the economic team. Left with no option, she resigned as Foreign Affairs Minister to resume her work at the World Bank.
Upon assumption of office, President Jonathan sees her as an indispensable tool that would help to overhaul the ailing economy. She was again appointed Finance Minister with an additional responsibility of overseeing the activities of other ministers in Jonathan’s cabinet.
Ngozi’s secret to success
At all times, the Finance Minister stands her grounds with truth buckled round her waist and carries integrity for a breastplate exactly the same way a Catholic Bishop carries his cross on his chest.
The Finance Minister who dazzles in her usual characteristic signature of Akaran and a combination of headgear has demonstrated prudence in planning, courageous in taking risk and unassuming in prosperity. In the line of duty, she has sown love in place of hatred and hope where there is despair. A combination of all these, only help to reaffirm her unshaken belief that Nigeria will be a better place if policies implemented were allowed to thrive.
Achievements and challenges
First, as a key player in President Olusegun Obasanjo’s government, between 2003-2006, she helped in the cancellation of $18 billion country’s debt. This singular feat opened the door to large investments and eventually created room for growth in the nation’s economy.
Today, Ngozi Okonjo Iweala is back on the trenches. So far, she has helped in curtailing the pilfering of the nation’s oil money, create prudence in the management of government’s funds.
No doubt, she has been at war with lawmakers particularly with regards to budget allocations. Through her due process stance, she was nicknamed, Ngozi ‘Wahala.’ But this has helped in curbing corruption in virtually all sectors of the economy. She has also demonstrated an uncommon knack in overseeing the affairs of other ministers under her jurisdiction. In many instances, she has rose to their defence in public wherever the need arises.
But above all these, the finance Minister still has many rivers to cross. Her most trying moments remains her confrontations with Lawmakers who at one time or the other summoned her to defend budget proposals.
Petroleum Resources Minister – Diezani Allison—Madueke
The delectable Diezani also bagged MBA degree from the Cambridge University. She joined Shell Petroleum Development Corporation (SPDC) in 1992 and rose to become the first female Executive Director in Nigeriain April 2006. She got married to Admiral Allison Madueke (retired) one time Chief of Naval Staff in 1999.
Diezani Allison Madueke became first Transport Minister in July 2007. She inspected many uncompleted road projects and promised to effect repairs of those roads. The Benin-Ore road was one project too many that made the Minister to weep. But ironically, it ended there.
In April 2010, the Jonathan’s government appointed Diezani as Minister of Petroleum Resources, a portfolio, many thought too critical for a woman to handle.
Since she mounted the saddle of the enviable oil sector, Diezani has demonstrated an uncommon guts. In her own way, she has put oil thieves to check, reduced leakages of oil money to the barest minimum and ensured regular supply of fuel even though not so regular in filling stations across the nation.
Travails and challenges
From her first appointment as Transport Minister, Diezani was exposed to series of regours. Sometime in June 2008, she was subjected to Senate probe over an alleged payment of N30.9 billion to contractors between December 26 and 31, 2007. There was an attempt to kidnap her at herAbuja’s residence in September 2008.
Also while serving as Minister of Mines and Steel Development, in October 2009, the Senate accused her for allegedly transferring a whooping sum of N1.2 billion into private account of a toll company without due process.
But in spite of these trials, Diezani still stands tall amongst her contemporaries. As Petroleum Resources Minister, the ever vivacious Bayelsa Princess, can still be credited for checking the menace of oil thieves, unending petrol scarcity, and militants’ activities in oil communities.
Stella Oduah Ogiemwonyi – Aviation Minister
She was born in January 5, 1962 into the Royal Home of Igwe D. O. Oduah of Akili-Ozizor, Ogbaru Local government Area,AnambraState. She holds a Bachelor and Master degrees in Accounting and Business Administration in theUnited States of America.
Stella worked with the NNPC and retired to her private business, the Sea Petroleum & Gas Company Limited (SPG) an independent marketer in petroleum product.
Since her appointment as Minister of Aviation, the Anambra born technocrat has introduced some radical reforms in the nation’s turbulent aviation sector. Most of the nation’s international airports are currently wearing new looks.
Despite these enormous challenges ahead of her, Stella has stood her ground to defend most of her reformation policies.
The Dana Air crash exposed some lapses in the Aviation sector. It was one crisis too many for the minister to handle.
Also, the lawmakers’ stand against adoption of Arik Air as the nation’s airline still remains a tidious task for the minister to address.
Minister of Water Resources, Mrs Sarah Reng Ochekpe
She was born in October 4, 1961 and hails from Barkin Ladi Local Government Area of Plateau State.
She holds a Master degree in Public Administration, Certificate in Journalism from the Nigeria Institute of Journalism (NIJ) Lagos and has attended many courses in different areas of human interest and development.
As an astute civil servant, Sarah Ochekpe was appointed by Governor Jonah Jang ofPlateauStateas Executive Chairman of the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) before her ministerial appointment.
Though, the Water Resources Ministry has never been known to be functional to most Nigerians. Every preceding year, the taps run dry even when provision of water has been identified as one of the essentials of life.
Ministry of Communication Technology, Omobola Olubusola Johnson
She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical and Electronic Engineering from the Universityof Manchester and a Master’s degree in Digital Electronic from King’s College, London.
Omobola Johnson joined Accenture, then Andersen Consulting in 1985. Within the two decades she was at Accenture, she rose through the ranks from a Director to the Head of the Financial Services operating group in Nigeria and eventually emerged as the Managing Director.
As the Minister of the newly created Ministry, Information and Communication Technology, Omobola Johnson has issues to grind particularly in areas of ISPON, NCS, regulation and standardisation of ICT practice and keen watch of GSM operators.
So far, many things still need to be attended to in this ministry particularly in the area of GSM operators who short-changed subscribers. Also, the issue of Mast installation among others.
Minister of Environment – Hadiza Ibrahim Mailafa
Since her assumption of office as Minister, Hadiza Mailafa has to contend with the hydra head problem of erosion in the South East, desert encroachment in the North and raging flood in the South West.
Her most trying periods was the recent ocean surge inNigeriawhich left many towns and villages submerged, threatened wildlife and left many people homeless. It was obvious, that the minister was overwhelmed by the enormity of the crisis. Not much was recorded to have been done by her ministry in that regard.
Erelu Olusola Obada – Minister of State, Defence
She was former Deputy Governor and an astute politician.
Her appointment into the Defence Ministry attracted sharp criticisms. Though, Erelu Obada has demonstrated that no ministry is an exclusive preserve for male.
However, she still battle to save the face of her ministry in tackling the insurgence of terrorism and other security challenges in the country.
Professor Ruquyyatu Rufai – Minister of Education
She is a Professor of History, an Academics par excellence. This, no doubt puts her in a proper stand to manage the falling standard of education.
But the paucity of funds budgeted to the ministry as against the UN recommended annual budgetary allocation to education has not created a smooth ride for the minister.
Professor Rufai still has to confront head on the falling standard of education at the primary, secondary and tertiary institutions.
Every year, students of secondary schools performed abysmally at the West African School Certificate Examination (WASC).
Available statistics, showed that no fewer than 20 per cent of them get credit pass in English language and Mathematics which are core subjects for further studies.
Also, the issues of poor funding of Nigerian universities and lack of learning tools in tertiary institutions are burden she has to carry with the little budgetary allocations. The state of the nation’s universities is nothing to write home about.
Ms. Ama Pepple – Minister, Lands and Housing
She hails from the Niger Delta. Until her appointment, she was head of the Civil Service.
Ms. Pepple has been battling the issue provision of House and Lands particularly in already congested area as Abuja.
Though, most of her critics will argue that she has not made much impact in her ministry. But the wanton destruction of estates in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) as illegal structure may be the voice of Jacob but the hand of Esau.
There is need to still define a clear lands and housing policies forNigeriaand Nigerians.
Hajiyya Ibrahim Kuchi – Minister of State Niger Delta Affairs
Her appointment elicited strong criticism. She was initially described as misfit for the office. Hajiyya Kuchi may not be familiar with the peculiarities of people in the region and their problems.
Today, the Niger Delta Ministry with huge budgetary allocations is still enmeshed in an unending crisis of uncompleted and abandoned projects, huge debts owned contractors and alleged corruption.
I don’t keep record of female ministers – Ayo Obe
Human rights activists, Ayo Obe may not be satisfied with the number of women in government.
Thus far, the much of them in Jonathan’s cabinet has not attracted her attention. In a telephone chat with Saturday Vanguard during the week, the renowned activist said: “I’ve not been keeping records of women in Jonathan’s government.
So, I can’t say much about them or their performance in governance.”
However, she promised to keep tab on Nigerian’s women in government moreso, if they feature more regularly in prominent positions.