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by Nehi Igbinijesu. History has it that Nigerian women have triumphed in societal life more than today’s womenfolk would like to agree. Gender activism and Pro-woman movements have successfully peddled a notion that Nigerian women have not been fairly treated in the quadrangles of religion, politics, workplace and even at home. From the anti-tax riots of 1929 to the enfranchisement of northern women in northern Nigeria in 1976, antecedents seem to support my case that Nigerian women have thriven, amidst the murky shades of male chauvinism that colour socio-cultural interactions south of the Sahara. On April 23 1984, Nigeria signed the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of all forms of discrimination Against Women of 1979. In the same year, one Dr. Bola Kuforiji-Olubi became the first woman Chairman of a bank in sub-Saharan Africa. A woman of many first, Bola was born on September 28, 1936. She began her career as a Grade two Teacher at Zawan Girls Catholic Primary School, Jos, where she rose to be headmistress at age 19. She went on to the University of London and graduated with a degree in Economics in 1963. Her name struck no chords until 1977 when she became the first African woman to be made a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales. She served on the board of the National Institute of Social and Economic Research (NISER) from 1980 to 1983. And later became the first woman to preside over the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) when she was appointed its 25th President from 1989 to 1990. Otunba Ayora Bola Kuforiji Olubi was the first Nigerian woman to be CEO of a multinational company, VYB Industries Limited and the first female Chairman of a public company quoted on the Nigerian Stock Exchange, Bewac Plc. In 1993, she was appointed Minister of Commerce and Tourism in the Interim National Government headed by Chief Ernest Shonekan. Otunba Ayora is a recipient of several honours including an award of Officer of the Order of the Niger in 2002. Now in her mid 70s, Otunba Ayora Bola Kuforiji-Olubi is a shining example to Nigerian women of the depth and height that feminine gracefulness and assiduity can reach. She is indeed a woman of sterner stuff.

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This article was first published on 6th August 2012

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