BY CLIFFORD NDUJIHE

PRESIDENT Goodluck Jonathan will on November 14, decorate another batch of eminent Nigerians with various awards in recognition of their contributions to the growth and development of the nation.

The national honours system in Nigeria as in many other parts of the world is a way of recognizing individuals and institutions that have over time impacted positively on the community or country.

Like in past exercises, women have continued to trail men in the number of awardees. Of the 364 nominees selected for the 2011 awards, there are only 37 women or 10.16 per cent of those selected.

A peep into the background of the few women selected for the award reveals iconic women who have made their marks in their different fields of endeavour.

The chosen few include Justice Aloma Marian Mukhtar (CFR), Mrs. Victoria Gowon (CFR), Senator Joy Emodi (CON), Senator Grace Folashade-Bent (CON), Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke (CON), Justice Dorothy N Eyamba-Idem (OFR), Justice Aisha Sani Dahiru (OFR), Justice Hauwa Kulu Aliyu (OFR), Justice Inumidun Enitan Akande (OFR), Prof Grace Alele-Williams (OFR), Mrs. Amina Sambo (OFR) and Mrs. Cecilia Akanu (OFR).

There are also Ms Arunma Otteh (OON), Dr. Yewande Thorpe (OON), Mrs. C.B Ugokwe (OON), Dr. S.N Adukwu Bolujoko (OON), Saudatu Ohinoyi Magajiya Shehu Mahdi (MFR), Mrs. Rhoda Nguhemen Tor-Agbidye (MFR), Mrs. Monye Rajis-Okpara (MFR), Mrs. A.B Iyoha (MFR), Mrs. Eniola Ajoke Fadayomi (MFR), Amaka Igwe (MFR), Stephanie Okereke (MFR), Genevive Nnaji (MFR), Hajiya Indo Mohammed (MFR) and Mrs. Naomi P. Maiguwa (MFR).

The rest are Mrs. Juliet Ohuma Chukkas Onaeko (MFR), Mrs. Maryam Uwais (MFR), Mrs. Fatima Abdu Kyari (MFR), Mrs. Sherifat Olanbiwonninu Kola-Daisi (MFR), Mrs. Georgina Murako (MON), Mrs. Nne Kurubo (MON), Mrs. Huda Matteded (MON), Mrs. Nkechi Obi (MON), Hon. Queen Elizabeth O Bens (MON), Marian Usman (MON) and Mrs. Caroline Funmilayo Busari (FRM11).

For instance, Justice Aloma Mariam Mukhtar is the first female Supreme Court Justice of Nigeria.

Top: Ms Arunma Otteh, Amaka Igwe and Prof Grace Alele-Williams Below: Justice Aloma Marian Mukhtar ,Maryam Uwais, Grace Folashade-Bent and Genevive Nnaji

Mrs. Victoria Gowon, a nurse by profession is the wife of former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon (rtd), and Chairperson of Yakubu Gowon Foundation. She was a strong pillar for Gowon, Nigeria’s all time longest ruler.

Senator Bent, who distinguished herself in the Senate between 2007 and 2011, holds a doctorate degree Public Administration from Indiana State University, USA. Born in 1960, Bent received a BA (Hons) in English and Literary Studies in 1998 (University of Calabar), and an MSc in Political Science and International Relations in 2003. Before entering the Senate, Bent was political adviser to former PDP National Chairman, Audu Ogbeh, assistant producer for NTA Kaduna.

Professor Alele-Williams made her mark as a first class academician and later as a skilled administrator. She is one of the first Nigerian women to obtain a PhD in Mathematics. She was also the country’s first female vice chancellor (University of Benin 1985 1991).

Born in Warri December16, 1932, she attended the prestigious Queens College, Yaba from where she went on to the University of Ibadan, the University of Vermont and later, University of Chicago, both in the United States of America. In 1974 she became the first female professor of mathematics.

Among the honourees, Senator Joy Emodi, the Special Adviser to the President on National Assembly is one of those whose recognition is touching.

Senator Emodi’s recognition and award of the Commander of the Order of the Nigeria, CON, is particularly touching because it continues the spate of recovery for a woman, who not to long ago was perceptively denied her mandate to represent her people in the Senate.

Unarguably, the first Igbo woman to be elected as Senator in 2003, and the first female senator to be re-elected, Emodi did not assume her mandate in the Senate until after a long legal tussle that lasted for over 20 months.

Upon taking her seat in the Upper House, she quickly made her mark, utilising her vast geographic, educational, legal, political and philanthropic experience. Her mark in the Senate has endured in the annals of time.

Her bill for an Act to Provide for a National Ethics Curriculum in Primary, Secondary Schools and Teacher Training Colleges in all states of the Federation and the FCT made history as the first private member’s bill to be passed by the sixth Senate.

Other bills she sponsored include A Bill for an Act to Prevent Discrimination against Graduates and Staff of Polytechnics; A Bill for an Act to provide for the establishment of the National Institute for Educational Planning and Administration (NIEPA) Nigeria and for matters connected thereto; and A Bill for an Act to provide for the Establishment of the Federal Scholarship Commission and for matters connected thereto, she carried out or attracted numerous projects to her constituency, state and geo-political zone.

The projects include rehabilitation and strengthening of River Niger Bridge; award of a BOT contract for revitalization of the Onitsha Port Project, re positioning of agricultural areas to align them with Anambra Imo River Basin Authority for better yields; poverty alleviation programme through micro-credit grants to widows and youths; scholarship award to youths for secondary and tertiary education as well as for ICT and other skill acquisition.

She also attracted provision of portable water and rural roads; youth employment through National Directorate for Employment (NDE.) Programme; state of the art ICT Centre for Federal Government Girls College, Onitsha; Free eye screening and treatment including provision of glasses for 5000 constituents; Annual charity programme for orphans, disabled persons, widows and less privileged; water borehole projects in many communities in her Constituency; and Primary Healthcare Centre at Umuerum in Ayamelum Local Council.

Based on these achievements, Emodi was re-elected into the Senate in 2007 to consolidate on her projects, which she did in style. However, her quest to take her constituency to another level in 2011 was truncated when deep-seated intrigues denied her a third mandate.

As a thorough bred politician, she took the political blow in her strides and before long, President Goodluck Jonathan appointed her as his Special Adviser on National Assembly.

The appointment practically returned her to the legislature, where this time, she is playing the special role of guiding the President on courses that would lead to harmonious relations with the lawmakers, which in turn will translate into good governance for the citizenry.

Arguably, she has discharged this function creditably in the last four months, a factor that obviously aided her being selected for the national award that will be conferred on recipients on November 14 in Abuja.

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