PROFILE OF SENATOR LADY UCHE EKWUNIFE (IYOM)
Senator Uche Lilian Ekwunife (IYOM) is a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, representing Anambra Central Senatorial District in the 9th Assembly of the Nigerian Senate. She is currently the Chairman, Senate Committee on Science and Technology.
Senator Ekwunife is a Chartered Accountant by profession. She was born on 12th December 1970 in Onitsha, Anambra State and obtained her Bachelor of Science (B.Sc) degree in Business Education and Accounting from the University of Calabar in 1992. She also obtained both a Post Graduate Diploma (PGD) and a Masters in Business Administration from Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, and was conferred with a Doctorate Degree (Honoris Causa) in Public Administration by the Institute of Journalism, Management and Continuing Education, Enugu.
Senator Ekwunife is an outstanding personality of great repute. Her success and achievements in the various positions she has held over time, continues to stand her out as one of the most effective leaders of our time. Prior to joining politics, she had a very successful career in banking and rose from a Branch Manager of Standard Trust Bank to Head of Private Banking Unit of United Bank for Africa (UBA). Her meteoric rise in the banking profession was propelled by the hard work and dedication she put into her assigned duties which led to her being elected as President, Young Bankers Association (2000-2006), and also earned the prestigious title of YOUNG BANKER OF THE YEAR in 2003.
In the political space, Senator Uche Ekwunife continues to blaze the trail and break the glass ceiling that restrains the emergence of women as major political players in our country. In June 2007, she was elected into the Federal House of Representatives as Member representing Anaocha/Njikoka/Dunukofia Federal Constituency where she served for two terms upon her reelection in 2011. While in the House of Representatives, she occupied several leadership positions like the Chairman, House Committee on Environment (2011 to 2015) where she displayed very exceptional leadership qualities in tackling the nation’s environmental and ecological challenges. As Chairman, Senator Ekwunife attracted the attention of the Federal Government to the havocs and menace caused by erosion in different states of the federation and also proffered meaningful and practical solutions to these problems. She was also Deputy Chairman, House Committee on Public Accounts (2007 to 2011), Leader, Anambra State Caucus, House of Representatives (2011 – 2015) and member of several standing committees of the House of representatives including Public Accounts, Gas Resources, Public Procurement, Rural Development, Women in Parliament, FCT and Electoral Matters. She was also a member of Ad Hoc Committees on Petroleum Industry Bill and House Services. Her record of service in these subcommittees were exemplary.
Due to the exceptional representation she provided to her constituents during her time in the House of Representatives, in June 2015, Senator Ekwunife was elected into the Nigerian Senate as Senator representing Anambra Central Senatorial District, a position she held until she was ultimately removed by an unfavorable court judgment in November 2015. During this brief period in the Senate, Senator Ekwunife exhibited an impressive ability to work across party lines in the execution of her legislative functions. She was appointed the Chairman, Senate Committee on Petroleum Downstream, the first time a woman and Southerner occupied this eminent position. She was also a member of several Ad-Hoc Committees in the 8th Senate including Committee on Legislative Agenda, Committee on Works, Committee on Rules and Business and Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions. Senator Ekwunife has also participated in several other national assignments including Member, Presidential Committee on Flood Relief and Rehabilitation (PCFRR) and Member, representing Anambra State in the House of Representatives Constitutional Amendment Committee (2011 to 2014).
In 2019, Senator Uche Ekwunife was re-elected into the Senate. This time with a more overwhelming electoral victory margin than 2015. In a feat that had never previously been attained, Senator Ekwunife won the election in all 7 local government areas of Anambra Central in what is now referred to as authentic “7 over 7” victory. Her overwhelming victory was a testimony of the people’s abiding belief in her quality representation.
Senator Ekwunife’s leadership ability has always manifested everywhere she goes. While serving on the Board of Nigeria Film Corporation, she made unparalleled contributions to the development and growth of the Nollywood industry. She also served on the Board of National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS). “IYOM” as she is fondly called, is many things to many people. To a lot of people, she is a role model, a go-getter and a trail blazer. To others, she is a philanthropist who takes delight in helping people. And yet to many others, she is a Leader par excellence, who has given a very good account of every leadership position she has occupied. Indeed, she is succor to the many families whose lives she has positively impacted in various ways. To her credit, she has assisted over 670 youth to be employed in both private and public sector. She has also assisted over 107 women travel outside the country either to explore business opportunities or to embark on pilgrimages.
Senator Ekwunife has participated in several matters of great national importance. She was among the delegates who represented Nigeria in Geneva for the 133rd Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union. She was also a member, Ad Hoc Committee on Constitutional Review and also led different legislative groups at the National Assembly. In both the Federal House of Representatives and Senate, Senator Ekwunife has moved several well researched motions of great national importance which generated impressive and overwhelming support from her colleagues. Some of the bills credited to Senator Uche Ekwunife include among others, the National Projects Monitoring Agency (Establishment) Bill, The LGA Financial Autonomy Bill, A Bill for an Act to Provide for the Establishment of the National Environmental Sanitation Commission (NESC), A Bill for an Act to amend the Environmental Health Officers (Registration) Act 2002, a Bill for an Act to establish the Forestry Research Institute of Nigeria (FRIN) and most recently, a Bill for an Act to amend the Public Procurement Act.
Her joy in putting smiles on the faces of people led Senator Ekwunife in 2001, to establish a scholarship and welfare scheme for the education of intelligent but indigent students. To date, over 100 students have benefitted from this initiative. The Youth and Widows Support Centre is also a non-governmental organization which she established to assist youths and widows.
Senator Ekwunife has undergone several local and international trainings from reputable institutions around the world like Harvard Business School, Lagos Business School and University of Witwatersand, Johannesburg, South Africa. She has also received several awards of Excellence including the Best Honorable Member of House of Representatives (2008); Legislative Excellence Award (2009); African Meritorious Service Award (2008) and Merit Award of Excellence. Senator Ekwunife is a Fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Marketing (NIMARK) as well as a Paul Harris Fellow of Rotary International. She has also been conferred several chieftaincy titles by traditional rulers including Iyom Ugochinyeleze–Na-nwata (Nri), Ada-Ugo Igbo (Igboukwu), Nnedioramma (Aguata) Anyanwu (Aguluzigbo), Ife (Abagana); Akwaugo (Ojoto), Ezinne (Nimo), Ugomba (Agulu), Ojiugo (Amichi), Udala Oma (Enugwu Agidi), Oke-Ada (Awka), Mpkuluoma Chukwukulu (Umuawulu), Achalaugo (Okpuno) to mention but a few. She is also a worthy recipient of the IYOM title, and has been a long standing member of ‘Ndi Aro Eze’ (Special Advisers) in Nri Kingdom.
Senator Ekwunife is happily married to her husband of over 25 years, Chief Larry Ekwunife (Ochendo) and they are blessed with lovely children.