Ladies and gentlemen, if you’ve ever doubted the indomitable spirit of leadership and the power of a determined heart, then the story of Dr. Ipalibo Harry Banigo, Senator representing Rivers West, is here to erase all doubts. Oprah Winfrey once said, “The world’s most prominent women leaders show the importance of honesty, courage, impact, strength, and decisive action in leadership,” and Dr. Ipalibo Harry Banigo embodies this profound statement as she continues to rise from glory to glory in the world of politics.
Born on December 20, 1952, Dr. Ipalibo, known by her maiden name Harry, has battled countless adversities, conquered rivers of challenges, and defied the odds, all while standing tall in the male-dominated arena of politics. She is a testament to the enduring spirit of women’s leadership.
In a groundbreaking moment in history, Dr. Ipalibo Gogo Banigo, a renowned Nigerian politician and distinguished physician, blazed a trail as Rivers State’s first female deputy governor from 2015 to 2023. But her journey didn’t stop there. In 2023, she triumphantly secured a senatorial position in Rivers West District in the 10th National Assembly, defeating the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and former chairman of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Hon. Asita.
A dedicated member of the People’s Democratic Party, Dr. Ipalibo Harry Banigo has served in various pivotal roles within the Rivers State Ministry of Health, from Director of Public Health Services to Acting Commissioner, Director-General, and Permanent Secretary. Her remarkable journey began in 1995, when she first emerged as the secretary to the Rivers State Government. She was then chosen by NyesomWike as his running mate in the 2015 election, a pivotal moment that marked the start of her impactful tenure as deputy governor.
But Dr. Banigo’s story is not just about her political achievements; it’s about her unwavering commitment to making a difference in people’s lives. She began her professional career as a senior medical officer-in-charge and registrar of births at the Rivers State Port Health Service. Her dedication led her to become the honorary consultant dermatologist at the University of Port Harcourt. Her roles at the Rivers State Ministry of Health, as well as her tenure as Rivers State’s Head of Service, showcased her exceptional leadership skills.
Moreover, Dr. Banigo’s contributions extend beyond politics and healthcare. She has served as a public health adviser for the Nigerian Shell Petroleum Development Company and held key positions in the National Primary Health Care Development Agency. Her affiliations include the Rivers State Food and Nutrition Committee, the Rivers State Hospital Management Board, the Governing Board of the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, the Governing Council of the University of Calabar, and the Reference Board DFID. She was also appointed Chairman of the Rivers State Relief Committee and Project Director for UNICEF and UNFPA.
In 2021, Dr. Banigo took center stage at a conference hosted by St. Racheal’s Pharmaceuticals Nigeria, where she shared her insights on creating a zero-malaria environment in Nigeria. Her expertise and dedication were further underscored when she was appointed chairperson of a seven-person group by Nyesom Wike, the Governor of Rivers State, to revitalise inactive health facilities in the state.
Dr. Ipalibo Harry Banigo stands as a luminous force in the annals of history, shaping destiny with grace and consistent determination. Her charismatic leadership serves as an enduring testament to the indomitable human spirit. She is not just a leader; she is a mother, a beacon of hope in the darkest of nights.
Her impact spans across various domains:
Education: Dr. Ipalibo Banigo recognises the paramount importance of formal education for Rivers children. She has played a pivotal role in enhancing educational programmes and ensuring that Rivers State schools receive the attention they deserve. Her personal contributions, including scholarships for eligible Rivers State indigenes, have made education accessible to many.
Women’s Welfare: As the first female Deputy Governor of Rivers State and the entire South Southern region, Dr. Banigo has become a symbol of empowerment for Rivers women. She has championed the cause of women, acting as a mother, sister, friend, and role model to those who dare to dream in the new sociopolitical landscape.
Youth Empowerment: Dr. Banigo’s dedication to the well-being of Rivers State’s youth is unwavering. Her care foundation has supported countless young individuals, providing them with opportunities for personal growth, training, and sponsorship, transforming them into sources of empowerment for others.
Healthcare: Leveraging her expertise as a renowned medical expert, Dr. Ipalibo Harry Banigo has prioritised the healthcare sector in Rivers State. She has offered specialised and professional assistance to ensure that the residents of Rivers State have access to affordable, readily available, and accessible healthcare. Her personal oversight of the renovation of several state medical facilities reflects her commitment.
Girl Child Campaign: Dr. Banigo’s advocacy for the protection of the girl child is not just a duty; it’s a moral obligation. She launched the “Protect the Girl Child” campaign, actively working to end violence against women and girls, particularly in Rivers State. Her collaboration with various organisations and successful cases during her tenure as Deputy Governor exemplify her dedication to this cause.
Dr. Ipalibo Harry Banigo’s journey is a remarkable tale of resilience and triumph. She has shattered glass ceilings at every turn, breathing life into dreams that others dared not dream. Her story reaffirms that leadership knows no gender and thrives in the hearts of those who defy conventions.
Her journey is an enthralling chapter of bravery, vision, and the unshakeable belief that women’s leadership is not just powerful but enchanting. Dr. Banigo’s leadership is more than a title; it is a force that ignites change, empowers others, and leads with royal elegance and compassion. In her, we witness the extraordinary power of women in leadership.