Hadiza Balarabe, Josephine Piyo & Noimot Salako-Oyedele… meet six female deputy governors in Nigeria

 Hadiza Balarabe, Josephine Piyo & Noimot Salako-Oyedele… meet six female deputy governors in Nigeria

The March 18 governorship elections, overseen by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), saw six female deputy governors elected out of 24 candidates across 15 states. 

While results in Adamawa and Kebbi were inconclusive, INEC announced results in 26 states, with supplementary elections set for April 15, 2023, in those states. 

Among the 28 states with gubernatorial elections, 15 had female deputy governor candidates. In the North, Kaduna and Plateau each elected a female deputy governor. 

The list:

Dr Hadiza Balarabe Sabuwa (Kaduna)

Hadiza Sabuwa Balarabe, a seasoned politician and accomplished medical doctor, has held the esteemed position of deputy governor of Kaduna State since 2019. 

Notably, she secured her place in history as the first female deputy governor to be elected in the state during the 2019 Governorship Election, running alongside Governor El’Rufia under the banner of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Born into the esteemed family of Alhaji Abubakar Balarabe in the Sanga Local Government Area of Kaduna State, Hadiza’s journey to leadership began early. 

She pursued her secondary education at Girls College Soba before embarking on her medical studies at the University of Maiduguri, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) degree in 1986.

Her dedication to public service led her to serve as the Executive Secretary of the State Primary Health Care Development Agency before assuming the role of deputy governor alongside Nasir El-Rufai in 2018.

In recognition of her electoral victory, Hadiza Sabuwa Balarabe, along with Governor-Elect Senator Uba Sani, was officially presented with her certificate of return by INEC on Friday, marking another milestone in her illustrious career.

Josephine Piyo (Plateau)

Mrs. Josephine Piyo, a dedicated grassroots politician, emerged as the deputy governor-elect of Plateau State, running alongside Governor-elect Caleb Mutfwang under the banner of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). 

With a background as a former chairperson of Riyom Local Government Area and a lawmaker in the Plateau State House of Assembly, Piyo brings a wealth of experience to the role. Governor-elect Mutfwang emphasized that Piyo’s selection aims to amplify the voices of the marginalized. 

Prior to her political career, Piyo served as a healthcare worker and demonstrated her leadership skills as a public administrator. In a separate development, two women secured the position of deputy governors-elect in the South South zone of the country.

Dr Akon Eyakenyi (Akwa Ibom)

Dr. Akon Etim Eyakenyi, a prominent figure in Akwa Ibom State politics, has a rich and diverse career trajectory. 

Her journey began in 2000 when she served as Commissioner for Industry, Commerce, and Tourism during Obong Victor Attah’s administration. 

Over the years, she has held various significant positions, including Chairperson of the Akwa Ibom State Technical Schools Board appointed by former Governor Godswill Akpabio and Minister of Lands, Housing, and Urban Development during President Goodluck Jonathan’s tenure in 2014.

A seasoned politician, Dr. Eyakenyi also represented Akwa Ibom South in the National Assembly and currently serves as the Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on Education. 

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Her contributions extend beyond politics, as evidenced by her involvement in key initiatives such as the Technical Committee of the Ibaka Deep Seaport and her role as Chairman of the Governing Council at Akwa Ibom State Polytechnic, Ikot Osurua.

Beyond her professional achievements, Dr. Eyakenyi is a devoted mother and wife, married to Engr. Etim Eyakenyi, a native of Iquita in Oron Local Government Area. As the deputy governor-elect of Akwa Ibom State under the People’s Democratic Party, she continues to inspire and lead with dedication and integrity.

Dr Ngozi Nma Odu (Rivers)

Dr. Ngozi Nma Odu, currently a Professor of Food and Public Health Microbiology at PAMO University of Medical Sciences in Port Harcourt, has a distinguished career. 

She previously held positions at the University of Port Harcourt, where she lectured in the Department of Microbiology and served as the first Acting Executive Director of the University of Port Harcourt Foundation. Additionally, she is a visiting professor at Rivers State University.

In her tenure as a civil servant in Rivers State, she ascended the ranks within the Ministry of Health to become the Permanent Secretary, holding the position for six and a half years, the longest tenure in the ministry’s history (1999 – 2006).

Dr. Odu’s contributions extend beyond her state as she played pivotal roles in national health policy development, including reviewing chapters of the 2004 National Health Policy and co-reviewing the 2004 – 2007 Health Sector Reform Programme. 

She also provided expertise in assessing the implementation of Public Private Partnerships in the health sector of Akwa Ibom State in 2005 and contributed to drafting the State Strategic Health Development Plan for Bayelsa State in 2009. 

Additionally, she has served as a consultant to various organizations including SPDC, TOTAL, NLNG, and UNDP.

In a broader context, her achievements stand out, particularly against the backdrop of limited female representation in political leadership, as evidenced by the recent governorship election where only one female deputy governor-elect emerged in the entire South West region.

Engr Noimot Salako Oyedele (Ogun)

Engineer Noimot Salako-Oyedele, hailing from Ogun State, serves as the Deputy Governor-elect, marking a significant role as the sole female deputy governor in the South West until the recent election of Governor Biodun Oyebanji of Ekiti State. 

Born in 1967 in Ado Odo Ota Local Government, she brings over three decades of expertise in Consulting, Contracting, and Real Estate sectors. 

Salako-Oyedele, with a master’s degree in Public Health Engineering from Imperial College of Science & Technology London and a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Lagos, currently heads Glenwood Property Development Company Limited. 

She stands as the third female deputy governor of Ogun State, having been re-nominated and securing victory alongside Governor Dapo Abiodun in the March 18 election. Additionally, Ebonyi State stands out in the South East as the sole state with a female deputy governor-elect.

Patricia Obila (Ebonyi)

Mrs. Patricia Obila, a two-term Vice Chairman of Afikpo North LGA, has been nominated as the running mate to the governor-elect, Hon Francis Ogbonnaya Nwifuru. Described as a graduate with extensive leadership experience, they secured victory on the All Progressives Congress (APC) platform. 

Daily Trust reported that the history of female deputy governors in Nigeria dates back to 1990 during the military regime of General Ibrahim Babangida, who appointed two female deputy governors in Lagos and Kaduna states. 

Modupe Okunnu served as Lagos State’s first female deputy governor under Brigadier General Raji Rasaki (rtd), while Aisha Pamela Sadauki held the position in Kaduna State under Abubakar Tanko Ayuba (rtd). 

Despite women serving as deputy governors in various states, none have been elected governor yet. Currently, only four states have female deputy governors: Cecilia Ezeilo in Enugu, Hadiza Balarabe in Kaduna, Noimot Salako-Oyedele in Ogun, and Ipalibo Gogo in Rivers. 

However, there’s a notable disparity between the north and south regarding female political representation. Professor Kamilu Sani Fagge, a political analyst from Bayero University Kano, attributes this gap to factors such as tradition and religion, which tend to limit women’s political participation in the north.

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