GROUPS have endorsed third-term member of House of Representatives, Honourable Khadija Bukar Abba Ibrahim as Nigeria’s first female Deputy Speaker.
The choice of the member representing Damaturu/Gujba/Gulani/Tarmuwa (Yobe) Federal Constituency has also got the nod of the northern caucus of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the green chamber, party stalwarts, gender equality advocacy groups, among other stakeholders.
With high level political horse-trading ahead the inauguration of the 8th Assembly in June, Khadija Bukar Abba Ibrahim (who is from the North East) is said to be highly favoured to step into Hon. Emeka Ihedioha’s plum job.
Chances of Hon. Bukar Ibrahim becoming Deputy Speaker has also been enhanced by the purported zoning of Speaker to South West. Political observers thus think it’s only proper to elect the Deputy from North East. And preferably a woman.
Apart from the APC making history with Khadija’s choice as No. 2 legislator in the House, the opportunity of having a woman as a Deputy Speaker in its first outing as a ruling party, is seen by gender enthusiasts as one of the big gains of the APC government in its determination to actualize gender balance in the polity.
Khadija Bukar Abba Ibrahim is largely seen as the face of change which is the mantra of the incoming APC government. Basking in the euphoria of a credible assurance of “New Deal” for women and youths by the President-elect, General Muhammad Buhari,a group of concerned gender enthusiasts are also looking at the credibility, experience and parliamentary maturity of the top female law maker as one politician who is well-prepared ahead of time with her two-term experience in legislative business.
With the promise of sticking to Affirmative Action based on merit, the APC will be making good its dream as a party by giving one of the top elective political offices in the land to a woman (that is President, Vice President, Senate President, Speaker, Deputy Senate President, and Deputy Speaker).
And with a radically different Buhari presidency where the office of the First Lady would be a bit silent, the least position that can give the party a niche to its pedigree is that of Deputy Speaker.
Professor J.A.F Adegbulu, a public affairs analyst and gender enthusiast, gave his opinion about Honorable Khadija Bukar Abba’s dream: “The beauty of this whole argument is the fact that the APC as a party is not in short supply of eminently qualified women who can fly the flag of the party in any capacity in government. It can be argued that this advocacy (gender equation) is more germane in the legislative house where there has been a paucity of women principal officers’ vis-à-vis their male counterparts since the beginning of this democracy in 1999. If there is any arm of government where the principle of Affirmative Action should be strictly adhered to, it should be at the National Assembly where our laws are made.”
Professor Adegbulu noted with pride that his advocacy for gender equation in the parliament should not be misunderstood as an act of image-laundering but a honest consideration for a fine pedigree of hard work and a record of excellence in a woman who will be bringing to the legislative business a whole gamut of experience spanning eight years in the legislative enterprise.
He added, “Besides, it is anchored on APC’s policy of a “merit based Affirmative Action” aimed at providing a level- playing field for women and provide them opportunities to be part of decision making and governance at all level.”
Similarly, Barrister Ebere Ifendu, chairperson, Women In Politics Forum (WIPF), an NGO with focus on women emancipation and gender equality has also endorsed Honorable Khadija Bukar Abba Ibrahim on the principle of merit and hard work
During her recent “Meet and Greet” event, a re-orientation program for new legislators in Abuja, the WIPF boss spoke on why the incoming leadership of the APC needs to justify its promise of gender equation and affirmative policy with the No 2 position for a woman in the House: “It is a well-known fact that women are still not making any significant progress in politics…We already know some of the predicaments women are facing. However, women have overcome these challenges and shown merit, we must all stand up to support them.
“We at Women in Politics Forum fully endorse and support Honorable Khadija Bukar Abba Ibrahim, a third- term ranking member of the House of Representatives to be elected Deputy Speaker. She is an excellent legislature who is committed to women and children issues.”
Barrister Ifendu spoke further, “Honorable Khadija Bukar Abba Ibrahim merits the position of Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives and this will help in our pursuit of women empowerment and affirmative action. Nigerian women have always been used only at election times, this is the time to have women in the key decision making positions in the House of Representatives.”
ABOUT HON. KHADIJA BUKAR ABBA IBRAHIM
Honorable Khadija Bukar Abba Ibrahim comes on board with intimidating credentials.
She joined the 6th National Assembly on May 29, 2007 after her public service experience as the Commissioner for Transport and Energy in Yobe State between 2004 and 2007.
During her first tenure as a lawmaker, she held several leadership positions that came with lots of tasks. She was Deputy Chairman of both the House Committee on Rural Development and House Committee on Communication. She also served as member in the Power, Water Resources, Interior, Women Affairs, Appropriation, Electoral matters, Banking and Currency, Petroleum upstream, Police Affairs, Sports and Constitution Review committees.
In 2007, she was re-elected to the House by her constituency and her responsibility in the parliament was doubled; she was appointed Chairman, Privatization and Commercialization Committee. She also sat on the board of committees on Culture and Tourism, Environment, Industries, Interior, Millennium Development Goals, Niger-Delta Development Commission and youth and Social Development committees.
Her legislative interest cuts across humanitarian projects like development of the health sector, development of the education sector with regards to the female child education, women empowerment and maternal protection.
Honorable Khadija Bukar Abba Ibrahim has a B.Sc in Business Studies and Sociology from the University of Surrey, United Kingdom (1989). Before then, she bagged a National Diploma in Sociology from Padworth College, Reading, UK (1986). She got her O ‘levels from Headington School, Oxford, UK in 1985.
Apart from being a lawmaker and public servant, Khadija Bukar Abba Ibrahim was a Resident Commissioner for NICON Insurance, Yobe State between 2006 and 2007.
Interestingly, Honorable Khadija Bukar Abba Ibrahim is the most highly ranked female member of the House who has never decamped or cross carpeted to any other political party than APC. She is equally the only female member on her third term in the National Assembly on the platform of APC.
– UCHE OLEHI