Franca Afegbua, the first elected female senator in Nigeria, is dead.
The Afegbua family announced her passing in a statement issued on Sunday.
Afegbua, 79, was a native of Okpella, a town in Etsako-east LGA of old 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.
She was elected the senator representing Bendel-north in October 1983 under the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) in Nigeria’s second republic.
Her political journey was, however, cut short as the military coup of December 1983 toppled the civilian government less than three months after she assumed office.
Speaking on how she was able to clinch her senatorial seat at a time the Nigerian political space was largely dominated by men, Afegbua told PLAC in a 2022 interview that women are known to keep their promises.
“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.”
Editor’s note: This report has been edited to reflect that Franca Afegbua was the first elected female senator in Nigeria.
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