Nigerian women have refused to quietly sit in a corner and watch the men run away with the country.
March 8, 2018 is another celebration of International Women’s Day as the influence of women on the global stage is placed more squarely in the spotlight.
Nigerian women are not left out of the conversation as they’ve made exploits that have made impact on the national and international stage for as long as we can remember.
In honour of what the day represents, we recognise a few Nigerian women who, over the past few months or years, have inspired other women to be more than what the world demands of them.
Despite how hard it is to limit the list to just five, here are some of our favourites:
1. Aisha Buhari
Love her antics or hate her for them, but the First Lady of Nigeria refuses to remain in the kitchen or the ‘other room’ where the president, her husband, would prefer her to be miserably silent.
Ever since her outburst against President Muhammadu Buhari’s chaotic administration in 2016 that drew the president’s unfortunate joke, Aisha has refused to be cowed into silence.
The First Lady has spoken truth to power against her husband’s tenure that she deserves to be honoured with Wailer-in-Chief.
On January 19, 2018, the First Lady took to her official Twitter account (@aishambuhari) to share videos of a plenary session of the Senate where Senator Isa Misau claimed that the president is not in charge of the country.
The lawmaker slammed the president’s ineffectual role in checking his cabinet that’s full of incompetent people and said a cabal was controlling his government.
The First Lady didn’t have to say a thing to ruffle feathers; just a few Twitter subs was enough to put her unyielding husband on the spot.
President Buhari and his wife, Aishaplay
Behind a man who needs to get his act together is Aisha Buhari (Premium Times)
2. Oby Ezekwesili
If Aisha is the country’s First Lady inside the government, then former Minister of Education, Oby Ezekwesili, is the First Lady outside of it.
The former minister has become a constant thorn in the flesh of the country’s government that she’s had a few brushes with security agencies.
Ezekwesili is the co-convener of the Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) movement that has campaigned relentlessly for the return of the Chibok schoolgirls that were kidnapped by Boko Haram terrorists in 2014, as well as other hostages of the sect.
While the campaign continues to burn a hole in the government’s rear, the former minister has recently targeted her activism at the country’s entire political structure.
She has declared a total clear-out of agents of bad governance both from the current government and the previous ones in which she served as a public servant.
Her Red Card movement is still gaining traction and God helps whoever stands in her way.
3. Amina Mohammed
After only one year as the Minister of Environment, Amina Mohammed rose to become the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN), an unprecedented feat for a Nigerian of any gender.
The Gombe State native had previously served as the Special Adviser to former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Post-2015 development planning.
Mohammed was named by Foreign Policy magazine as 2017 Diplomat of the Year and named as one of the 100 Most Influential Africans of 2015, 2016 and 2017 by New African Magazine.
It’s probably a testament to the power of her influence that the president has not been able to effectively replace her after a year of leaving her post as minister.
4. Aisha Alhassan
From a close shave at becoming the first elected female governor in Nigeria, to raising blood pressure in the Presidential Villa, it’s hard to argue against Aisha Alhassan’s place on this list.
The current Minister of Women Affairs has remained a colossal figure in Nigerian politics for the past four years.
Remarkably, in September 2017, the minister engaged in open rebellion against President Buhari’s government by vowing to back his possible opponent in next year’s election.
Despite the public backlash at her ‘disloyalty’, Alhassan doubled down on her stance and doesn’t appear to have altered them for anyone’s sake.
5. Professor Moji Adeyeye
In 2017, Prof. Moji Adeyeye took over as the Director General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC).
The Professor of Pharmaceutics, Manufacturing Science and Drug Product Evaluation is the founder of Drugs for AIDS and HIV Patients, a non-profit organization committed to prevention, education, care and treatment of HIV/AIDS children in Nigeria.
Since she took over, she has kick-started an active information technology system in the agency by making sure all staff of NAFDAC use an organised emailing system and other ICT innovations to make work easier.
She also cut back on spending money on travels by doing video conferences.