Senator Stella Oduah is the Senator representing Anambra North in the 8th National Assembly. She served as Director of Administration in the Goodluck Jonathan 2011 Presidential Campaign and formed the organising group – Neighbour to Neighbour. Oduah was appointed Minister of Aviation, where she served from 2011 to 2014 before running and getting elected as Senator of the Federal Republic. In this interview on Gatefield TV programme #ConversationsWithAbangMercy, Oduah spoke about being a woman in Nigerian politics and how she was able to win the 2015 elections in Anambra. See Transcript of the interview below:
Abang Mercy: You were one of the most crucial in the elections of former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan especially in 2011 if I recall, with the Neighbor to Neighbor movement that you led and winning a keenly contested election in a state like Anambra state. What does it feel like being a woman in politics in Nigeria?
Senator Stella Oduah: It’s tough, very tough. I think for some reason there are these male conspiracy that women should not rise, that women should not indeed be in politics. The reason I don’t understand but what I know for sure is that unless and until women are fully participating both in elective and selective positions, we would not have an equitable government.
“Women are very good in governance. Women are patient in governance, and women understand why community and the nation should grow and would grow. the propensity for women not to progress their communities is very very slim.
Men are not known and have not been known to do that.
Currently I am the President of West African Female Parliamentarians and part of our objective is to ensure that we mentor and encourage younger women to come into politics because that is the only way we can have our community developed, and is the only way we can have our nation progress and it’s the only way we can see a fair nation. That is the only way we can transform this nation. Clearly men cannot do that, they have tried severally and they have failed us.
I think it is about time that women should get involved. We can’t wait for them, for men to give us power. People don’t give out power but women would have to take the power.
After all, who are the men? They are the people that we gave birth to, they are the people that we nurtured, they are the people that we trained so if they are subject to all these that we are in command, at what point did we become the lesser being?
So we would go on campaign, we would go on advocacy, and we would have our conventions and summits to tell Nigerian women and african women in general that we need to march on, that we need to take the power back from the men, even if we don’t lets work as partners to make sure that we have a better country.
And I think also for every female no matter who they are is for them to understand that only two things you need to be a good politician: passion for your people, that comes naturally to every woman. Education; which I believe every woman should have girl child education must be promoted. Once you have these two, you don’t need the muscles. If you want a muscle you can hire body guards, if you want the fighting skill you can hire people that would fight for you. But other than that, your head on your shoulder, your brain intact, the sky would be your limit.
AM: How have you been able to navigate through the checkered waters of grassroot politics? For instance, at your first attempt in Anambra, I always have emphasis on Anambra because its one of the most difficult states in Nigeria when it comes to elections. Boom and the next thing you are in the senate.
SO: It took a lot of hard work. When I left the government, I went home. I wanted to understand what the needs are. If I am representing the people, the least that is required of me is to understand them – how they think, their difficulties, because I would be their mouthpiece, I would be their representative. In doing so I left and I stayed with them for almost a year. I went through every single community. I went by road, I went by bike, I ate with them, I slept with them and so now I know them more than ever before. I know the lacks, I know the decay, I know the desperation, I know the passion and so I lived their life. And my responsibility is to ensure that I bring that to government and that is why I sponsored a bill called the constituency projects.
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