Home The EntrepreneurProfile & Biography Ireti Heebah Kingibe: An Engineer-turned-politician and FCT’s Senator-elect

Ireti Heebah Kingibe: An Engineer-turned-politician and FCT’s Senator-elect

by Harry Choms
Ireti Heebah Kingibe

Hajiya Ireti Heebah Kingibe was recently declared the winner of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja senatorial election, making her the FCT’s second female senator-elect. The 69-year-old civil engineer will take over for multiple-term Senator Philip Aduda in the Senate.

You are correct if you think her surname sounds familiar. She was married to Ambassador Baba Gana Kingibe, a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (2007-2008), Minister of Foreign Affairs (1993-95), Minister of Internal Affairs (1995-1997), and Minister of Power and Steel (1995-1997). (1997 – 1998). He was also Chief Moshood Abiola’s running mate in the annulled 1993 presidential election.

Birth and education 

Ireti was born on June 2, 1954, into a colorful and culturally rich ‘Nigerian’ family. Her father, Abdulkadri Lanval, is of Fulani and Yoruba descent, and her mother is from Asaba and Bonny. Her elder sister was Ajoke Mohammed, the wife of former Nigerian President Murtala Muhammed.

Ireti received her elementary education at Emotan Preparatory School when she was a young girl. She then began secondary school at Queen’s College in Lagos and finished at Washington Irving High School.

The University of Minnesota was her next stop, where she earned a degree in Civil Engineering in the 1970s. Even now, engineering is one of the few professions dominated by men, so one can only imagine how unusual it was for a female child to study Civil Engineering at the time.

Her professional career 

Ms. Kingibe started her career in 1978 as a Quality Control engineer with Bradley Precast Concrete Inc. She left in 1979 and joined the Minnesota Department of Transportation Design unit as an engineer. She stayed at this job till she took a break in 1981 to return to Nigeria for the one-year mandatory national service. She worked as a Project Supervisor with the Directorate of works, Nigerian Air Force base in Ikeja, Lagos till 1982.  

From the 1980s till 1990, Ireti Kingibe worked with the New Nigeria Construction Company, Kaduna as a planning engineer; and later as a consultant for Belsam Limited. By 1990, she joined Lodigiani Nigeria Limited, Lagos as a regional engineer.  

She is a Senior Partner with Kelnic Associates, an Architectural firm in the FCT Abuja.  

Her foray into politics

Ireti Kingibe has been a politician for over three decades. She joined the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in 1990 and worked as an adviser to the party’s national chairman at one point. She, like many other Nigerian politicians, had to step away from politics during the military era, which lasted until 1998. She resumed her political career after the country was returned to civilian rule by joining one of the newly formed political parties, the ANPP.

She first ran for senator in the FCT on the platform of the All Nigeria Peoples Party ANPP in 2003. (now defunct). In 2006, she joined the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and in 2014, she joined the All Progressive Congress (APC). Kingibe was supposed to run for office in 2015 on the APC platform, but she did not.

She joined the Labour Party in 2022 and ran as the FCT senatorial candidate in the recently concluded general elections on February 25, 2023. During the campaigns, she promised that if she won, she would donate her base salary to a special fund to address infrastructure gaps in rural communities near the nation’s capital. Some claimed that her multicultural background qualified her to represent the interests of all parties involved, particularly minorities.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared Ireti Kingibe the winner of the Federal Capital Territory on Tuesday, 28 February 2023, as announced by the returning officer Sanni Saka, despite protests from other party agents. She received her Certificate of Return from the commission a few days later and was congratulated by Mr. Peter Obi, Labour Party Presidential Candidate.

“A very hearty congratulations to Senator-elect Mrs @ireti kingibe; the second elected female senator for the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja,” he said on Twitter. Her election reflects our commitment to women and youth.”

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