BEYOND BEING THE FIRST FEMALE DEPUTY SPEAKER AT THE KOGI STATE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY

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By Gabriel Alhassan Ottah PhD

The Deputy Speaker of Kogi State House of Assembly, the Rt Hon Comfort Nwuchiola Egwaba, has proved beyond doubt that there are women who have the capacity to surpass the men in many fronts. All they need is the opportunity to prove their worth. I remember the “doing it” maxim in the political advert for the former president Goodluck Jonathan where it is said “Yiu Quan Liu did it, Martin Lurther King Jr did it, Nelson Mandela did it, Barak Obama did it, Goodluck Jonathan is doing it.” In this article, let me go feminine like this: “Dora Akunyili did it. Queen Amina of Zaria did it. Flora Nwapa did it. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie did it. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala did it. Comfort Nwuchiola is doing it.” Indeed, what a man can do, a woman can do even better.

About this time last year, the Rt Hon Comfort Nwuchiola had faced what one would label the fiercest and most intriguing elections into the Kogi State House of Assembly in Ibaji. At some points on the eve of the election, it looked like she would not win at all. In fact, some influential political figures had branded her a loser who had no capacity to stand the wind of the mighty opposition about to blow. But as God would have it, she won. Little did we know that she had been destined to break the jinx as the first woman ever to be elected Deputy Speaker by other Honourable Members of the House. Today, Hon Nwuchiola is a political celebrity who has written her name in gold.

It is important to mention that her becoming the Deputy Speaker, strictly speaking, is not the motivation for this creative writing. It is the fact that within a short duration, this woman has counted a large number of achievements both within her constituency and beyond. Only recently, the Deputy Speaker organized a town hall meeting with her people, the Ibaji people, at Onyedega, the Local Government Headquartres. That would be the first time such a round table session would be convened by any Ibaji who had occupied the position. At the meeting, Rt Hon Nwuchiola expressed her desire for Ibaji. In a heart-touching speech, she said “I have a dream of peace, harmony and progress in the land, Ibaji where chieftaincy, land and communal crises should be history.” And she brought the dreams into reality by matching those words with action.

A few days after the town hall meeting, Hon Comfort Nwuchiola Egwaba engaged the traditional rulers in a round table discussion on how to solve the hydra-headed problems in Ibaji. Thus, issues of security, education, health and food security were discussed. A week after that, the Rt Hon traveled to Enweli, where she had a meeting with Ibaji youths. There again, the Onobulẹ Ọmẹmẹlẹ of Ibaji encouraged the youths and expressed her commitment to the course of progress. On the same day, the Deputy Speaker had another meeting with the Gagos and Chief Gagos from all parts of Ibaji during which issues of enforcing the school rules on the children through the Gagos and the traditional rulers would be implemented.

As if that was not enough for the day, the gallant, athletic-looking Comfort Ojoma Nwuchiola staged a stop over among the Ikpenyi group of women of Enweli to celebrate that aspect of Ibaji culture that eulogizes women. She was indeed a political celebrity who, like the King Cophetua in Tennyson’s, Beggar Maid stepped down from her car to greet the women. And she got a resounding ovation: Comfort awaaa… eeee!

Besides, the Deputy Speaker did not waste a minute to intervene in the crisis that just erupted between Ayeke and their neighbouring community, Enweli. She was on her toes round the clock to ensure the dream of peace was brought to reality. At a meeting with the warring parties, Hon Comfort admonished all those involved in the fight to sheath their machetes and allow peace to reign. She was all out collaborating with security agencies, the state and the local governments to forestall further fighting and destruction between Enweli and Ayeke.

One would think that with all these, the Deputy Speaker would not have time to attend to state matters that might be brought up for her contribution. No! She is everywhere and anywhere she should be. No wonder it is said she is a woman with masculine capabilities.

It is one thing to be made a leader or to win elections as our record breaking daughter of Ibaji has done. It is also another thing to perform optimally. In the case of the Honourable Deputy Speaker of Kogi State House of Assembly, she has surpassed expectations already. If these could be recorded inside one year in office, then we should expect more. She seems to be carving for herself greater chances in the years to come.

My optimism has gone to high heavens considering the rate at which she is breaking records. Through her, our health sector would have a boost. Government at all levels would hearam if they do not do anything concerning our road. Our farming population would feel the impact of government. Our vocal, capable and intelligent Deputy Speaker would make adequate representation for us at the appropriate quarters to attract government attention to Ibaji. What she needs now is our encouragement and prayers. I’m sure Ibaji would join me to sing:
Ẹwn k’onẹ nẹ ia du yọla, Ẹwn k’onẹ nẹ (abo wa oo)

Dr Gabriel Ottah is from Ottah, Ibaji LGA and he was the S A to the former Gorvernor Yahaya Bello on Education.




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