Breaking Barriers: Hajiya Ireti Heebah Kingibe’s Journey to the Senate

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On February 28, 2023, Hajiya Ireti Heebah Kingibe was declared the winner of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT Abuja) senatorial election, marking her historic ascent as the second female senator-elect of the FCT. The 69-year-old civil engineer’s victory signals a new chapter in her extensive career, as she prepares to replace the long-serving Senator Philip Aduda in the Nigerian Senate.

Kingibe’s surname might sound familiar, and for good reason. She was married to Ambassador Baba Gana Kingibe, a prominent figure who served as the Secretary to the Government of the Federation. However, her own story is rich and multifaceted, deeply rooted in Nigeria’s diverse cultural tapestry. Born on June 2, 1954, Kingibe’s heritage reflects a blend of Fulani, Yoruba, Asaba, and Bonny ancestries. Her familial ties include being the younger sister of Ajoke Mohammed, wife of Nigeria’s former head of state, Murtala Muhammed.

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Kingibe’s educational journey began at Emotan Preparatory School, continued at Queen’s College in Lagos, and culminated at Washington Irving High School. She then moved to the United States, where she earned a degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Minnesota in the 1970s. Her choice of a career in engineering was pioneering, especially during an era when few women ventured into this male-dominated field.

Her professional career commenced in 1978 as a Quality Control engineer with Bradley Precast Concrete Inc. She later worked with the Minnesota Department of Transportation before returning to Nigeria in 1981 for her national service. Her impressive career in engineering spanned various roles, including positions at the New Nigeria Construction Company and Lodigiani Nigeria Limited, before she became a Senior Partner at Kelnic Associates in Abuja.

Kingibe’s political journey is equally remarkable, spanning over three decades. She joined the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in 1990 and served as an advisor to the party’s national chairman. Despite the interruptions during Nigeria’s military era, she re-engaged with politics after the return to civilian rule, joining the ANPP and later the PDP and APC. In 2022, she became a member of the Labour Party and ran for the FCT senatorial seat in the 2023 general elections.

During her campaign, Kingibe pledged to address infrastructural deficits in rural communities by donating her basic salary to a special fund. Her mixed cultural background and commitment to inclusivity made her a standout candidate. Her victory was confirmed by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), despite protests from other party agents. Celebrated for her perseverance and dedication, Kingibe received her Certificate of Return and accolades from notable figures, including Peter Obi, the Labour Party’s Presidential Candidate.

Kingibe’s election to the Senate not only breaks gender barriers but also brings a wealth of professional and political experience to the Red Chamber, promising a future of impactful leadership and representation for the FCT.

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