•How they add colour to the legislature
By Kemi Yesufu
The National Assembly is where federal lawmakers carry out the serious business of making laws and conducting oversight of ministries, departments and agencies. But the importance of the work they do hasn’t stopped members from ensuring that they look good when they appear at the National Assembly and at events. Abuja Metro presents the definitive list of Nigeria’s lawmakers with a great sense of style.
Nigeria’s Senate President Bukola Saraki has a way with dressing. Though he rotates between well-tailored suites and flowing agbada made with exquisite fabric, it is easy to see that the country’s number three citizen wears the very best of whichever of the two attires he picks from his wardrobe. It is also quite noticeable that, since his days as governor of Kwara State, Saraki doesn’t let his busy schedule get in the way of his personal grooming routines as he always comes out very much debonair.
Just like his boss, Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu gravitates between well-made agbada and designer suites accentuated with sharp ties and pocket squares. Ekweremadu’s agbadas, which come in conservative colours, are worn with the signature red cap for titled Igbo men. He also wears the Igbo Isi Agu often. The Deputy Senate President has excellent taste when it comes to watches and perfumes.
Though a simple dresser, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, doesn’t fail to look presentable either when he is presiding in the Green Chambers or when he attends private events of his colleagues, which he does quite often. Though he is more likely to be seen in a neatly assembled babanriga with cap to match, Dogara does score with his dark suites.
The Anambra State senator has for years been one of the country’s best-dressed women. Since her days as a major player in the oil and gas sector, folks in high society could vouch for her admirable taste in jewelry, clothes and handbags. But the public took notice of Oduah’s good sense of fashion during her stint as minister for aviation. Though the lawmaker is still recovering from the loss of her son, she is gradually stepping back into style.
That the Senate Minority Leader is a man that loves to look good is as obvious as some of the milestones he achieved as governor of Akwa Ibom State. It’s not so easy predicting what Senator Akpabio will step out in. This is because he has mastered almost all of the favourite looks for men, from the agbada, to the South-South attire, which he accentuates with a short staff, as well as the corporate look.
He is a first term lawmaker who simply takes his fashion seriously. Looking at the lawmaker representing Ethiope East/Ethiope West Federal Constituency, it isn’t difficult to notice that he pays attention to details when it comes to his appearance. Idisi, a lawyer, also loves to make a statement with the full Uhrobo attire when he has motions to present on the floor, this is even as he boldly experiments with colours, especially when it comes to his accessories.
Outside the National Assembly, the ranking chairperson of the House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs has a legion of fashionista fans that would easily pick her as one of their style icons. Ukeje was first known for sticking with luxury brands found in the high streets of the world’s fashion capitals, she is still a major client to these top end labels, judging by the items she accessorises with, but these days her signature ankara look is what stands her out. The lawmaker representing Bende Federal Constituency is equally admired for her eloquence and carriage, which have many speculating that she attended finishing schools.
Aliyu Sabi is the spokesman of the Senate. His signature looks are well-tailored dark agbada made with quality fabric. The lawmaker shows a sense of style with his choice of caps to match. And he occasionally throws in French suites as part of his fashion statement.
She is the Senate Deputy Minority Whip. Olujimi, former deputy governor of Ekiti State, is one individual who keeps things simple both in her dress sense and how she relates with people. Despite nearing 60 and being a grandmother, when the senator chooses the casual look, she very much looks youthful.
The House Majority Leader, Femi Gbajabiamila, represents the cosmopolitan Surulere I Federal Constituency. It, therefore, is taken for granted that he wouldn’t comprise on his appearance. The lawmaker, who seems stuck with his bearded look hardly falters in his choice of traditional and corporate attire.
Hon. Binta Bello started out as Commissioner of Women Affairs in Gombe State after which she was elected to represent the Kaltungo/Shongom Federal Constituency. The soft-spoken lawmaker, who is the Deputy Minority Whip in the House, is always well put together. Her choice of fabric, styles and jewelry is something those who fancy her fashion sense often point out.
Chairman of the House Committee on Health Services, Hon. Chike Okafor, is probably one of the best-dressed federal lawmakers. Okafor, who left Zenith Bank to serve as finance commissioner in Imo State, has a way with style, which could be traced to his days in the leading financial institution. Many in the National Assembly would agree that the lawmaker representing Ehime Mbano/ Ihitte Uboma/Obowo Federal Constituency always looks dapper in his trademark three-piece suites.
Hon. Jones Onyereri is another lawmaker from Imo State that exudes panache. Onyereri, chairman of the House Committee on Banking and Currency, has made the suite and the bow tie look his own. A list of Nigeria’s fashionable lawmakers would not be complete without his name.
It won’t be off target to tag Senator Binta Garba the country’s most successful female politician. Garba, one of three senators from Adamawa State, was thrice elected to the House to represent Kaduna and Adamawa State on two different party platforms. Now in the Senate, Garba has remained one the lawmakers to watch not just for her contributions on the floor but also for her rich wardrobe.
Known for being impeccably dressed right from his time as commissioner of finance in Akwa Ibom State, Senator Bassey Albert is one newcomer in the National Assembly that commands respect for his urbane look and how he marshals out his points during debates.
The Chief Whip of the House of Representatives, Alhassan Doguwa sticks with flowing babanrigas made from high-end fabric. Doguwa, who represents Doguwa/Tudun Wada Federal Constituency, is more disposed to dark fabrics for his agbada, but he frequently throws in bright colours, showing a willingness to experiment.
Hon. Razak Atunwa, like many other lawmakers with style, has mastered how to switch from suites to traditional attire. The chairman, House Committee on Justice, who recently qualified as a pilot, also has carriage that point to his being well-travelled and sophisticated.
The Deputy Minority Leader of the House, Hon. Chukwuka Onyema keeps things simple between his ankara traditional attire and his designer suites. But Onyema, who is also the chairman of the South-East Caucus, doesn’t compromise on the quality of his watches and other accessories.
One of the few lawmakers to return to the National Assembly for a third term, Hon. Nkem Abonta, representing Ukwa East/West, is hard to miss in his traditional attire that share a striking similarity with the ‘resource control’. What makes the member, who chairs the House Committee on Public Petitions, stand out is his choice of decorative chains used on his ‘etibo woko’.
Fred Agbedi and Diri Douye
Other lawmakers who have trademarked the ‘etibo’ as the attire of choice are Hon. Fred Agbedi and the member representing Yenagoa/Okpokuma Federal Constituency, Hon. Diri Douye. The members from Bayelsa State have ensured the relevance of the resource control look, pioneered by former governor of Rivers State, Dr. Peter Odili, and further popularised by President Goodluck Jonathan.
Though she is in her 60s, Senator Rose Oko still made the list of National Assembly’s best dressed. This is because she often looks great in her well-made skirt-and-blouse attire, which she completes with matching turbans.
Right from her days as First Lady of Lagos State, Senator Remi Tinubu has mastered the art of selecting the right clothes for the right occasion. Though she has slowed down with regard to the number of social events she has to attend compared to her time as wife of the Lagos State governor, Mrs. Tinubu still get kudos over her dressing when she steps into parties and when she resumes for work at the National Assembly.
The sports administrator-turned-lawmaker, Hon. Ayo Omidiran, has made her ankara iro-and-buba combination a winner, with a good number of people agreeing that she belongs in this list.
He loves his traditional attire, which he punctuates with bright pocket squares. This first-timer that articulates his point passionately when on the floor of the House has good taste when it comes to watches.