Senator Uche Lillian Ekwunife is popularly known as Iyom, which is one out of many honorific titles she has garnered over the years as a result of her public-spirited and political activities. Mrs. Ekwunife has been a constant factor as far as politics is Anambra State is concerned.
Although she stumbled twice on her way to getting into an elective office, but since 2007 when she succeeded by being elected as member representing Anaocha/Njikoka/Dunukofia Federal Constituency in the lower chamber of the National Assembly, she has not looked back.
Who is Uche Ekwunife, politically speaking, is therefore, no longer a question anybody could ask in Anambra State or even in Nigeria.Having become a political heavyweight champion by virtue of defeating a national chairman of a political party on two occasions on her journey to the Senate, Ekwunife has become an authority, especially concerning the challenges women face in their search for a space to contribute their quota in the country’s public policy formulation and implementation.
But, what are those things people don’t easily recognise about Senator Ekwunife? In her words: “Well, I will say that I am just a woman that God’s grace, mercy and peoples’ grace has singled out not just in politics, but also in every area of my life.
“I came into life just like every other human being, I have my stories and challenges, but above all, same God’s grace and people have enabled me to stand out successfully.”
In Nigeria’s practice of constitutional democracy it has always been said that there are many impediments to women participation in politics. How did Senator Ekwunife overcome those challenges, especially the ones that revolve around economic and social hurdles, including culture and tradition?
“First and foremost, I had to deal with identifying that being a woman is not an impediment, rather a blessing. If men can succeed, so can women,” she said, adding, “The society we live in is not fair to women.
“Some of us that are where we are now had to rise above economic and social odds that are stacked against women. I remember as a young girl, after school I will go to a particular salon to help make ladies’ hairs and raise some extra money to augment my out of pocket allowance from my mum. My mother had all-girls children and she taught us early in life to be very prayerful and to be hardworking, never to depend on anyone for our needs.”
Talking about growing up years, were there things she dreamed of and dreaded about life, “yes,” she says, noting, “As a Child, I fantasied a lot about things, but one thing I dreamed most was to succeed in leading people, especially to ease the burden of the girl-child and the vulnerable in the society.