Post Image
Francesca Emanuel was Nigeria’s first female administrative officer and first federal permanent secretary. She was awarded Commander of Order of the Niger (CON).

Early life

Read more about Do you know?
She was born on 19 September 1933, and had her secondary education in Holy Child College, Lagos and attended the University of Ibadan, where she obtained a bachelor’s degree in Geography. In 1955, she obtained the Inter-B.A. and transferred to the University College, London for her main degree. In 1959, she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) Honours degree in Geography.


Mrs. Francesca Emanuel (née Pereira) was a civil servant. She joined the Federal Nigerian Civil Service in 1959 as the first female Administrative Officer where she started work as an assistant secretary at the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing between 1959 and 1960. During her career, she worked at the Federal Ministry of Establishment (1960-1961), and the Police Affairs Division in the Cabinet Office (1961-1964). She was appointed senior assistant secretary, Secretariat of the Morgan Commission on Nigerian Workers, in 1964. She was the under-secretary for the Federal Ministry of Commerce and Industry (1964-1969). She served as the deputy secretary at the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing (1969-1973). Francesca was the principal secretary for the Cabinet Office (1973-1974) and secretary for the Federal Public Service Commission in 1975. Her appointment as permanent secretary in the Public Service Department of the Cabinet Office, in July 1975 made her the first female Federal Permanent Secretary where she served for 13 years.
Sign up for the Connect Nigeria daily newsletter
Due to the pioneering role she played in the post-colonial civil service, she received the Retirement Award for Brilliant Performances and Outstanding Achievement by the Federal Directors-General (Permanent Secretaries) when she voluntarily retired in 1988.

Life in the Arts

At the first Nigerian Festival of the Arts in Lagos in 1950, she won her first prize as a soprano solo and then she was still a secondary school student. She was also a member of the pioneer musical group known as the Steve Rhodes Voices. She was also an actress and featured in Wole Soyinka’s earliest plays in the 1960s. She was also cast in his first major play titled A Dance of the Forests which was performed at the Nigerian Independence celebrations in 1960. She was a member of Soyinka’s professional theatre company, called the 1960 Masks. She ended up getting recognized at the Glover Memorial Centennial Award for Services to Arts and Culture in Lagos State in 2000. She was on the Board of Governors as well as a member of the Musical Society of Nigeria when they opened MUSON Centre, Onikan, Lagos. She was a performer who helped in nurturing different Aesthetics Arts and Culture Management and has administered projects such as The MUSON Festival, The 2nd National Film Festival and the Macmillan Literary events.
Register to attend the Connect Nigeria Business Mixer
She was also a member of the Board of Trustees of the National Association of Nigerian Theatre Arts Practitioners (NANTAP). She actively supported many organizations such as the Lumina Foundation headed by Dr. Promise Ogochukwu, Crown Troupe of Africa led by Segun Adefila, the Bariga Artists Forum, and the Artist Village, National Theatre Annex. She held both member and leadership positions in several public and private organizations such as Governing Board of the Federal Society for the Blind (1992), the Board of the Special Olympic Nigeria (1989), and the Fund Raising Committee of the Nigerian Sickle Cell Foundation (1977). She was a founding member of the Nigerian Conservation Foundation. She died on April 8, 2020 at the age of 86.


  • The Federal Directors-General (permanent Secretaries) awarded her a Retirement Award for Brilliant Performances and Outstanding Achievement.
  • Glover Memorial Centennial Award for Services to Arts and Culture in Lagos State in 2000.
  • The Commander of the Order of the Niger, CON.

Reference Featured Image Source: THISDAYLIVE
Got a suggestion? Contact us:

You might also like:
This article was first published on 15th June 2022 and updated on June 25th, 2022 at 12:12 am


Jeremiah is a scholar and a poet. He has a keen eye for studying the world and is passionate about people. He tweets at @jeremiahaluwong.

Comments (41)

41 thoughts on “Do You Know : Nigeria’s First Female Administrative Officer And First Federal Permanent Secretary-Francesca Emanuel ”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *