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Who is Mrs Patricia Olubunmi Etteh?

Vanguard (Lagos) By Leon Usigbe

Mrs. Patricia Olubunmi Etteh, Speaker of the Sixth Session of the House of Representatives, took the nation by storm when, against all odds, she emerged the first ever woman Speaker of the House of Representatives in the 44 years political history of Nigeria.

But, for her, it was not a surprise that she has come to the pinnacle of the nation's turbulent political ladder.

Even though she may have had a humble beginning, her antecedents in politics suggest that she is somebody who had a clear idea of where her foray in the endeavour would lead her. Ever since she joined the Alliance for Democracy (AD), which brought her to national limelight, she has carefully plotted her rise through meticulous and accurate reading and analysis of political developments which saw her jumping ship to align with the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

She was first elected to the House in 1999 on the platform of AD which, immediately, selected her as its Chief Whip. It was in 2002 that Mrs. Etteh decamped to the PDP, on whose platform she was re-elected to the House in 2003, in realization of the fact that opposition politics of the AD held little future for her.

While in the AD and in recognition of her leadership qualities, she was elected Deputy Majority Chief Whip in the House; a position she held from 2003 to 2007 alongside being the Leader of the South West Caucus in the National Assembly. She remained in that position until she fulfilled her date with destiny when she assumed the position of the first female Speaker of the House of Representatives on June 5, 2007.

That decision to leave the AD has proved to be an inspired one as it turned out to be a master-stroke in her desire to lead the lower chambers of the National Assembly. If she had remained in her original party, she would have probably belonged to the group complaining about her alleged marginalization of the opposition in the House today.

Mrs. Etteh was born August 17, 1954 to the family of Alabi in Ikire, Osun State. She had her early education at Baptist Primary School, Surulere, Ilorin in Kwara State where she obtained her Primary School Leaving Certificate in 1961, after which she proceeded to Aiyedade Grammar School, Ikire, between 1968 to 1973, for her Secondary School Certificate.

Thereafter, she went to London's Morris School of Beauty Culture in 1975 and London College of Modeling in 1976. In her thirst for more knowledge, she attended the University of Abuja between 1999 and 2003 for a part time Diploma in Law course and also has, in view, a Bachelors of Science degree in political science from the same institution.

Mrs. Etteh lost her father at a tender age, which left the responsibility of raising her and her siblings to her mother. It was a tough and rough experience, which may have hardened and primed her to excel in a male dominated field of politics. Married to Engineer Etteh, an Akwa Ibom State indigene and blessed with children, she holds the traditional title of Iyalaje of Ikireland.

On her assumption of office in June 5, 2007, she clearly laid out the mission she has set for herself in the next four years, which includes:

• Formulate necessary strategies that will make for expeditious passage of bills. 
• Take constituency responsibility to higher rewarding levels. 
• Build a good relationship with other arms of Government based on mutual respect, interdependence and cooperation. 
• Ensure that composition of committees will be in conformity with the rules of the House and
as specified in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and 
• Discharge our respon-sibilities, putting the people first and ensuring that we do not
disappoint the confidence reposed in us. 

Having displayed an uncommon heart of steel, thus far, in the running of the House, it would be reasonable to expect that she will accomplish her vision for the Legislature.