Nigeria’s first female senator, Franca Afegbua, has passed away.
Her death was announced in a statement released by the Afegbua family on Sunday.
The 79-year-old Afegbua hails from Okpella, a town in the Etsako-east LGA of the former Bendel state (now split into Edo and Delta states).
“The Afegbua family of Edo state has confirmed the demise of the first woman senator in Nigeria, Senator Franca Afegbua, whose sad event occurred this morning, Sunday, March 12, 2023. She combined beauty and brain during her service to Nigeria. Funeral details will be announced by the family soon,” the family said.
In Nigeria’s second republic, she was chosen by the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) to represent Bendel-North in the Senate.
But, less than three months after she took office, the civilian government was overthrown in a military coup in December 1983, ending her political career.
Commenting on how she was able to win her senate seat at a period when males predominated the political landscape in Nigeria, Afegbua told PLAC in a 2022 interview that women are recognized for keeping to their word.
“People know that women keep to their promises. That was a major factor, a major one. I intended to keep my promises to my people, and I made them understand that,” Afegbua said.
“I think there has been some improvement since my time. There was no woman in the senate before me then but there are women now. Then, I was the only woman but now, there is more than one. I believe the number will increase gradually.
“I remember the day I was sworn in. I felt fulfilled but that did not stop me from continuing to engage with the women and youths in my community. Agitations for affirmative action to enable more women get into the legislature to address the low representation of women is good for women. I am happy we started something, and it is good others have built on our effort.
“My advice is that they should be determined and not lose focus. If they remain serious about their ambition to help their people, they should go ahead and run, and they can be successful.”
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