Why I will be different if elected - Adaora
Screen diva, Adaora Onyechere, has thrown her hat into the ring, contesting for the Imo state House of Assembly, Okigwe constituency. Adaora who was a regular feature of the AIT flagship programme Kakaki, in this interview says it is not enough to sit by the sidelines and talk policy, but about time for journalists to be at the center of policymaking. She spoke with some journalists in Abuja, and Emmanuel OGBECHE, was there for The Abuja Inquirer. Excerpts:
You are going under a political platform that is relatively unknown, how do you intend to fly this beautiful dream of yours under this obscure political platform?
There's been a lot of demand over the years for alternative platforms, especially for those who really have the intention to serve based on capacity, transparency and integrity. We have had three prominent parties majorly APC, PDP and APGA and what we've we seen?
Through my research a s a broadcast journalist is that the possibilities of removing recycled politicians or diehard collar hungry individuals is very difficult and it’s almost a void chance for young people to emerge from such platforms without being propertied.
Again, it is also a time for us to begin to look at alternative platforms from this political parties. For instance, if you look at the cost or the expression of intent forms the two majority parties, who are in the lead to say with popularity and membership, have the highest cost for those forms and that's because of the bandwagon effect and the relative understanding that these are the only parties that can deliver candidates, but people make up parties, people design structures, people populate parties, people publicise parties. Therefore, it is necessary for young people should begin to look at themselves as part of the structure.
If young people do not take the chance as an intentional choice to look at alternative platforms we will still remain with the two major parties that we have had for the past 18 years. The idea is for young people to look at this smaller, so to speak obscure party, populate them, begin to publicise them and remember it is at the rural level that the leadership starts, that's where the party begins to take shape and perhaps that's been my call that younger people should begin to look at mass literacy and orientation of their party at the rural level, that's what builds the party not just the centre.
I remember when Gov. Ohakim ran under the umbrella of PPA, it was an unknown party in Imo state but he won, not just because of the party but because he was intentional about restructuring.
The biggest achievement for me as a member of Action Alliance is that their agenda first is mainstreaming women from the grassroots because they believe that the population for women voters are at the grassroots can solve the problem of development because they begin to look at policies.
Secondly, youth participation. They are also looking at the conglomerate of the youthful population, they are also looking at growing through mentorship. Action Alliance is looking at youths in all sphere.
Can you tell us how long this burning desire to go into politics has been?
My case is more of a humanitarian ability not political concept. Since 2013, I started to work actively at the grassroots with the less privileged, especially with women and children and I focused on the advocacy of giving voice to the voiceless; people who did not have platforms of the media, I was able to reach them because people complained that media was expensive but I realized that those issues we don't touch as media are those issues from people who can't afford it.
So, it became a challenge for me to change the status quo and going into politics is to redress the imbalance of people down there not been heard.
I first looked at the issues of women regarding empowerment and domestic violence, also I looked at education for the girl-child, which was where all of these things started from.
Besides, I’m from a political background, my granddad was an archbishop of the Methodist Church, so I saw his work with the community; I saw what he did for the people of Okigwe. Also, I saw my mum as the commissioner for women affairs in Imo, I saw my dad championing exam ethics, I looked at a lot of this grooming, it gave me the understanding that if you don't have a purpose in life, you have not achieved humanity, you've not achieved the existence of life so I needed to stand for something, and doing something better than you met it.
You have mentioned women and children a lot in your speech. We also know that you run Gender Agenda on TV. If you are eventually elected, it is obvious your focus will be on this. What about the other gender?
For me, gender agenda stands for all sexes but because Nigeria has some of the largest population for women, and it is primarily utilized across board, now because women are primary nurturers, they are the majority of the farming population at the rural level, they are the market association members, who probably are the biggest exporters of local subsidized farming, they are also the ones with capacity driven idea to teach, if you look at that population, and you look at the fact that over time the narrative has been that Africa has been a male dominated environment, which is not a bad idea, I am sold on the idea of equity not equality.
For example, if a man is earning 150, 000 for in a month, the woman should earn same amount because they both have capacity; not to earn less because of gender that's where discrimination comes in.
If you go to Oyo, Imo, Lagos, Gombe, Zamfara states, women are the highest voters, women are the ones who shape the decisions of the youth, hence the first target is the woman, if you've targeted a woman, you've targeted a child, husband, teenager so if you do not build where the end product is coming from, you find out that what you will be doing is rebranding and image repair from those end product that are coming, so when you look at the end product, you find out that everything falls down to the family, and who are those that manage the family? It is the woman.
What do you intend to do differently when voted into office?
Traditional politics has always been about using people, failed promises and enriching of self as seen time and time again. I come with love, an open essential in spirit to be one like they are, no airs, no alienation, and no unnecessary bureaucracy; a leadership that can communicate with those she represents in order to put the desired policies and intervention into place.
A woman who is here to serve and be used by her people to serve their core demands. I will also look at the uniformity of interest and mandates of others regardless of party, in other harmonise interventions and expand productivity. Like I always say, it’s about collaboration not competition. In every way, one for the other and together we can.
Politics entails a lot of mid night meetings and other activities. Do you have the capacity to cope with the trend?
I think it is relative. Politics does not have to be nocturnal, it depends on the understanding and the importance of the gathering or the meetings. The biggest political plans are concluded at the weekend hours of the morning when the decisions of the afterhours at night has festered and vice versa.
Yet what it means is that the priority of those decisions come into play when thinking and considering the time of the discussions, it should be about the purpose of the discussion and not necessarily personal intentions but for the benefit of the end result.