Nigeria’s history has seen First Ladies who shone on their own without the seats of their husbands overshadowing them and Margaret Shonekan is one of such First Ladies.
Today, history remembers Margaret Shonekan, a woman who lived for herself and also an inspiration to other people. She was the First Lady of Nigeria for 82 days from August 26, 1993, until November 17, 1993.
Margaret Shonekan was born on October 28, 1940, in Gusau, British Nigeria, in present-day Zamfara State.
From 1961 until June 1965, when she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in History, Margaret studied at University College Ibadan (now called the University of Ibadan). She later received a postgraduate administration and management diploma from St. Godric’s College in London in 1968.
On 1 October 1965, Margaret Shonekan was employed by the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) as a Trainee Assistant Registrar. For the bulk of her professional career, she worked for WAEC. From April 1, 1982, until September 30, 1986, she was later appointed deputy registrar of the WAEC.
In 1986, following her appointment by the Federal Government of Nigeria to the Federal Civil Service Commission, which oversees the civil service, Margaret Shonekan left WAEC. From October 1, 1986, until March 31, 1994, she served as the Federal Civil Service Commissioner.
Margaret’s husband, Ernest Shonekan, became the transitional provisional president of Nigeria in 1993. The presidency of the Shonekan was shortened when General Sani Abacha staged a coup, and on November 17, 1993, he overthrew Shonekan.
As gathered by Daily Times, Shonekan rejoined the West African Exams Council (WAEC) as its senior deputy on April 1, 1994. After defeating colleagues who also wanted the role, she was then hired as WAEC’s Head of National Office on October 30, 1995.
From October 30, 1995, until her retirement on September 30, 2000, Margaret served as Head of the National Office at WAEC.
She described her tenure as Head of National Office as her most difficult years with the WAEC, due to the lack of sufficient funding by the examination board at the time and its empty treasury.
She retired from the WAEC in 2000.
While in WAEC, Margaret was considered a “champion of anti-examination malpractice” who made a significant contribution to the advancement of education in Nigeria and the West African subregion.
Margaret Shonekan was/is a woman of grace and poise. She exuded discipline with her professional life which goes to show how much she may have achieved if she stayed long as the First Lady of Nigeria.
Do you think Margaret Shonekan deserved more time as First Lady?