Born in Oyo town on January 3, 1986, Abiodun Essiet is a nurse, gender activist and community development worker.
Although her parents hail from Remo North Local Government of Ogun State, Mrs Essiet grew up in Ibadan where she completed her secondary school education at United Missionary Comprehensive Girls college, Molete in 2002.
She later moved to Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomoso in Osun State where she bagged a degree in Nursing Science and became a registered nurse, midwife and a public health nurse in 2009.
During her community posting at a primary health centre in Osogbo, Osun State, Mrs Essiet said she observed a high prevalence of teenage pregnancy in some of the rural communities of the state and decided to help in addressing the issue.
Convinced an effective approach is to educate young girls on dangers of teenage pregnancy, the young Abiodun approached the then governor of the state, Olagunsoye Oyinlola, to introduce sex education in the curriculum of secondary schools. She played a major role in developing the subject.
Two years after graduation, she married her heartthrob, Victor Essiet, and the union is blessed with a boy and a girl.
Mrs Essiet later bagged a Master’s degree in Public Health at the College of Medicine, University of Ibadan in 2016.
That same year, she travelled to Canada for a certificate course in community leadership development by women at Coady International Institute. The following year, she received a scholarship from the same school for a diploma in leadership development and other certificate courses related to development studies.
Having acquired much knowledge, skills and field experience in community development, Mrs Essiet said she decided to run for political office due to the gap she saw between government and people in rural communities in Nigeria.
“While doing my community development activities, I had a change in passion from health related programmes to leadership and governance which provided the foundation for my political ambition,” she said told PREMIUM TIMES in an interview.
With political power, she felt she would be able to better express her passion. On Saturday, she declared her interest to run for Councillorship in Orozo Ward of Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC) in the 2019 general election.
If she wins, Mrs Essiet will be the first woman to be elected a councillor in the ward. She is running on the platform of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
“I saw a very huge gap between the people in power and the people governed at the local level. The citizens don’t even know the roles of their local leaders and the government is not doing much to address the challenges some rural communities face,” Mrs Essiet told PREMIUM TIMES.
“Abuja is the FCT (Federal Capital Territory) but a lot of communities even as close as an hour drive from Aso Rock are living under difficult conditions. They lack basic amenities. Women access primary health centres (PHCs) and other community services more but they are grossly misrepresented in government at the local level. More than 70 percent of leaders at local governments are men, they don’t understand what women go through.
“I want to start as a councillor because people don’t understand what the government at the local level should be doing. It is the duty of the councillor to bridge this gap, find out what people need and follow it up with the government.”
If she becomes a councillor, the midwife said she would help the people hold government accountable.
“I am part of a project called ‘Open Governance’. This project is mandated to make the 774 local governments in Nigeria make their budgets open so that people can know and ask them questions on what they are doing with their allocations. The projects they want to execute would be made open through this,” she said.
On challenges women face in politics, Mrs Essiet said women often do not scale through party primaries because they have low membership in the political parties. She urged more women to get involved in politics, join political parties and vote for fellow women.
Some of Mrs Essiet’s community development activities
- Executive Director, Abiodun Essiet Initiative for Girls – an organisation committed to promoting girl-child education.
- Appointed as the Head of State for Nigeria in Model ECOWAS Summit 2018.
- Director of women, gender and development affairs of Africa Youth Union Commission Nigeria.
- Elected as the speaker of canvassity PAN AFRICAN YOUTH DEMOCRACY FELLOWSHIP 2018.
- Mrs Essiet is part of a team campaigning for reservation of 35 percent of seats for women in government in the 2019 general election.
This Project is powered by Centre for Development and Democracy (CDD) with support from Ford Foundation. The initiative explores personal life, contribution to humanity, strength and political ambition of female politicians in Nigeria ahead of the 2019 general elections.