Leadership & Political Participation: The Story of Hon. Nnenna Ukeje-Elendu

BY EMMANUEL AJIBULU

There is growing recognition of the untapped capacity and talents of women and women’s leadership. Over the last two decades, the rate of women’s representation in national parliaments globally has incrementally increased from 11.8 percent in 1998 to 17.8 percent in 2008 to 23.5 percent in 2018.

Some regions have seen particularly dramatic increases, such as Sub-Saharan Africa, where in the last 20 years the number of women in parliaments has risen from 11 to 23.6 percent, and the Arab States region, which has seen an increase from 3.1 to 17.5 percent.

Total global representation is still well below the 30 percent benchmark often identified as the necessary level of representation to achieve a “critical mass” a considerable minority of all legislators with significant impact, rather than a token few individuals; not to mention falling short of women’s representation as half of the world’s population.

For a fact, the full and equitable participation of women in public life is essential to building and sustaining strong, vibrant and productive democracies.

Accordingly, the meaningful participation of women in national, local, and community leadership roles has become an important focus on global development policy. Still, some may ask why it matters if women become political leaders, elected policymakers, or civil society activists.

Why does the world need more women involved in all aspects of the political process? Women’s political participation results in tangible gains for democracy, including greater responsiveness to citizen needs, increased cooperation across party and ethnic lines, and a more sustainable future.

Women’s participation in politics helps advance gender equality and affects both the range of policy issues that get considered and the types of solutions that are proposed. Research indicates that whether a legislator is male or female has a distinct impact on their policy priorities. There is also strong evidence that as more women are elected to office, there is a corollary increase in policy making that emphasizes quality of life and reflects the priorities of families, women, and ethnic and racial minorities.

Meanwhile, for posterity to be kind to Nigeria and her key stakeholders in decision making, an individual like Hon. Nnenna Ukeje-Elendu should not just be applauded, honoured or awarded with laurels; she needs to be given more national responsibilities where she can explore more of her esteemed potentials. At the National Assembly, her quality representation since the last 12 years in terms of sponsored Bills, Motions, and various presentations and contributions on topical national issues have raised the bar for good governance and legislative representation. Notable among her impacts was the diplomatic policy direction she offered when the infamous xenophobic attacks on Nigerians in South Africa and other parts of the world became prevalent.

No wonder Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Presidential standard bearer embraced a gender friendly campaign team involving people of great ideas who are highly disciplined, and with enviable and indelible track records that Nigerians could be proud of.

More importantly, the choice of Alhaji Atiku to have this quintessential female lawmaker, Hon. Nnenna Ukeje-Elendu, the Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs and member representing Bende Federal Constituency in marketing his candidacy for the presidency has turned out to change political narrative, a move that has incredibly added value to PDP’s electoral victory come February, 2019.

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