Mrs. Promise Anaroke is the Coordinator of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) E-Women, Lagos state and Director, Kings Communications Ltd., Lagos. In this interview with our Correspondent, she bares her mind on her ambition to represent the people of her constituency in Enugu State, the recent impeachment of the former Deputy Governor of the state, Mr. Sunday Onyebuchi, Politics in Enugu state and many more. Excerpts;
There is this rumour making the round that you are nursing a political ambition. How true is that and if it is true, what position are you running for?
Like you rightly said, yes, I want to contest for Member, Enugu State House of Assembly to represent the people of Oji River State Constituency.
I am aware that the laws of this country has not yet allowed for independent candidacy, in that case, you must be nursing to achieve your ambition under a political platform. So, have you decided on which platform to run? If yes, could you please let us into it?
Goodness me! I have looked around all the parties; there is no other party like the PDP. I mean the PDP is the in thing, I have weighed it round, I have looked round the rest of the parties, there is no party that you won’t find crisis, mind you, even in the homes, you will see a husband and the wife, there must be crisis but the good thing is, when there is crisis, how do you settle? When there is problem, do youn settle or do you come out in the open and embarrass yourselves?
In every home, there is crisis but you settle it amicably. PDP is the only party that has really given room for people, they have tolerated all manner of people no matter how bad people think you are, if you come to PDP, they will begin to shape you, they will begin to mould you, they will begin to make you become a better person.
It is not a party where you just sit down and begin to insult people, it is not party where don’t see anything good in a person if the person is not a money bag. It is a party where you come in and come and show what you have intellectually and it is a party that has given room for talents of all types and of course it is a party that has given the women a lot of room to expand. It is a party that has given the Nigerian Women a lot of space to be proud of themselves, a lot of space to show that they are really responsible. No other party had done that.
You reside in Lagos and you are talking about the Oji River state constituency in Enugu state. How do you think that you can enlist the support of your electorates to vote in when you are hardly on ground, moreso as some of your opponents are already on ground?
I am a grass root person, strictly a grass root person. As a matter of fact, I live in Lagos and everybody who lives in Lagos, if you don’t have a country home, if you don’t have a place you go back to, if I tell you how many times I do travel in a year. One thing I do know is that at least, I know that the Igbos, there is this particular time that they set aside in a year to travel and see their people, you know, they sit down, they rejoice with their people.
Forget this grammar oh! If I go back to my village, even in Lagos, if I want to speak Igbo, I speak my pure dialect and once I talk, you must know where I come from, I can’t hide it, even if I travel abroad and see somebody who is Igbo, I speak my dialect.
What are your plans to go through the hurdles of the primary election and come out clinching the ticket of the party?
If you are a grass root person and you have touched the lives of the people one way or the other, people must have seen that yes, you have their interests at heart and I have been doing that. I might be a young person but how come so many people, I tell you, my popularity vote with my people, he grass root people will shock you because I am a home babe.
What could you say is your driving force for opting to run for this office?
All my life, it has been a passion for me to make people happy even when I was a kid, I have always had children around me making sure that they were not feeling too bad or even, no matter how difficult it is, there is always one thing you can do no matter how small it is to make somebody feel happier.
My biggest dream is turn around the way of life of my people particularly the women. So, I have been looking at it, how do you do that? I see a lot `of people who go into politics thinking it is all about money, as far as am concerned, politics shouldn’t be about money.
Yes, in whatever somebody is doing, you should be comfortable, you know, but if given a choice, if somebody should ask me, would you prefer to run for the House Assembly or would you prefer to run for the Senate, I will tell them I will prefer to run for House of Assembly because it is closer to my people. I believe in grass root politics. Running for the House of Assembly will give me an opportunity to really touch my people and be close to them.
It is not that being in the Senate will not do that but it is like you coming from up and going to touch people. It is like you are standing up and you are touching people, most times, you don’t really see the needs of these people because most people are just there, they don’t see the needs of the people.
When you come from the grassroots, you put yourself in the place of the people, you feel their pains, you know their needs and you know what they want. That is why they say, he who wears the shoes knows where it pinches, I mean, if you are part of them from the scratch, you know how it is, you know where you can begin to correct certain things. So, it is a passion for me, I want to really touch the lives of the people, change their ways of thinking, thinking that all hope is lost. As far as am concerned, no hope is lost but you need to make them understand.
You are aware that as a legislator, you don’t have any Executive powers to embark on most of the projects that you would want to embark upon for your people. How do you want to achieve your vision through this office per adventure you win?
The Executive, the Governor is a human being and a good Governor has ears for advice, he has ears to hear the cries and the voice of the people. I thank God that the Governor of my state is a grass root person, you know that my Governor is not a man of noise, he is not a man who likes to blow his trumpet, he is a man who believes that I do not need to shout for my people to hear me, that my people should not have to die for me to bury them before I know that they are facing hardship.
So, I thank God for the kind of Governor that we have, Governor Sullivan Chime, he has been a wonderful person. You know he has been a quite person, when he looks at you, he understands what you are going through and when people talk, he listens. He is not the type that says, I want to be the lord.
So, I might not be in the Executive position but who says that as a legislator, you cannot say about what your people are feeling? You can advice, you can recommend and show me a good governor and I will show you a good adviser, tell me a terrible governor and I will show you a horrible adviser because the governor cannot be everywhere. That is why he has people in different places, that is why he has people in different locations and that is why you have different constituencies and people are supposed to cover those areas.
You know the legislators are the governor’s eye in those rural areas and then something is happening, you rush to the governor and say, ah my governor sir, this is the situation we are into. He is a human being, he is a man of the people, he is a person who listens to people’s cry and he will listen.
It is not when you go there, you will want to lord it over everybody. Even your house help, if you lord it over your house help, you see the way your house help reacts and as far as am concerned, your house help is not your slave or your servant. A wife is a helper to the husband likewise the husband is a helper to the wife. That is why they came together to make things work.
So, the extra hand you bring into your house to help you do certain things should also be treated and acknowledged with love. So, you hear their voices.
Talking about your governor being a listening person, we all know that the present governor would not be on the saddle if eventually win this position. How do you expect that the incoming governor, probably somebody you may not have known before now will be the same as the outgoing governor?
With the kind of politics in my state, everybody knows that this governor is a performing governor and so if you must get the governor’s vote, you must be willing to perform and you can’t come from heaven to come and rule the people. You must be somebody that the governor must have seen his antecedents, he would have seen that this person is good. The governor will not say it must be you, he will give everybody chance, tell the people, give everybody chance.
They are the ones that know these people and the governor will give you a free hand to select whoever you think that will do the job, I will advise. He will not be there but he will always be there because he is also from the state.
So, he cannot just pick and say I want to give my vote to just anybody. He will want to give his vote to somebody who will continue from where he stopped, it is continuity, that is the exact word. Whoever is coming will continue from where the governor will stop. If I go to my state now, I am a very proud person, honestly.
As a woman going into the water dominated by men, you know politics in this part of the world is more like men’s affair. How do you think you can swim against the tides and maneuver your way through the turbulence, get the party’s ticket and proceed to win the election?
Thank God for our President who has allowed the men to understand that women are not just good as house wives. President Jonathan had made it open that we have Nigerian women who are intelligent, he has given us room to showcase what we can do, how good the Nigerian women can be and I thank God also for the Nigerian men who are beginning to understand that women are not just house wives, she is not a person whose only job is to make sure that your clothes are washed, ironed, that your food is ready when you need it, that the children go to school and do things at the right time. They have come to understand that the Nigerian women can do all these and more.
She give advice to her husband, that is why they say behind every successful man, there is a woman and even the holy book, the bible said it that the wise woman builds her home with her hands and that it is only a foolish woman that tears her home apart.
The Nigerian men are even beginning to rely a lot on the women because when you advice your husband very well, he knows that you understand what he is feeling, you know what he is passing through and that you are willing to help.
Men has come to realize that if I am going into the world that is seen as men’s world, the men have come to realize that it is no longer business as usual, that this is challenging and that if this woman should come here, that there is a possibility that she could do a lot better than the man and so, everybody wants to sit up and it is not a do or die affair anymore but it is an affair where you calm down, use your intelligence, you use your brain, you use your foresight and look round and see that these things must be done and it must be done, whether I am a woman or a man is no longer the issue.
These days, there is no job that you don’t have woman, there are women pilots, there are women captains, there are women drivers, there are women conductors. We have a woman who drives car from this Nigeria to the countries, we have female drivers, I have seen women who drive Keke Marwa, we have seen women who are security officers. I think the women soldiers are doing very well.
So, what job will they now come and say that women cannot do? And it doesn’t stop them from being good house wives. That is the good part of it.
How would you want to combine politics and your responsibilities as a house wife?
Goodness me! There is one thing I have always told my husband, yes, office is for job, home is home. Your home is where when you come back, you talk with your family, your husband, your children, your relatives, you reason and you talk to your people. The office is where you do strict business. If you are in your office and even your brother or your sister comes to see you, you let him or her know it is an office and that it should be an office affair.
It has been like that now, God made it that way, no matter the kind of job that you do, you must go home and prepare food for the house. For instance, I work; I am not a full time house wife. I work and it doesn’t mean that if I get home, mind you, I work and my husband works. When we wake up in the morning, he gets ready to go to work, we will do the normal house thing, and we go to our offices, face the stress of the office and still come back.
While he sits down reading his newspaper or he is listening to the news, I will be in the kitchen preparing food joyfully without grumbling because it is what I applied to do. I mean when you were saying I beg to apply, nobody was there with you. So, whatever you see is what you must face and am telling you that it has made not just the Nigerian women; it has made the African women a stronger and much resilient person.
It is believed that the time at which political meetings are being held I this country comes with a lot of disadvantages to the Nigerian women politically and socially as most of their meetings are held at night. Being a woman, how do you think you can cope with the midnight meetings without raising the ire of your husband?
Who told you that it is only at night that they hold meetings? Dem be witches? It is only witches that hold meetings at night. Political meetings can be held at any time; after all, don’t we go to night vigils? Is it not night? Night vigil is from night till the next morning, it doesn’t stop you from waking up the next morning and doing the normal thing that you need to do. It doesn’t stop you from waking up and preparing breakfast for your home.
So, if meetings are held at night and who says that every meeting that is called you must attend? If you are not around, you will not attend but there must be a good reason for it. It is not all the time they call meeting at night, meetings are held in the day time too. So, if a man can stay awake and attend that meeting at night, I should be willing and ready to keep awake and hold that meeting so long as it is not a meeting where they plot the downfall of our people. If it is a progressive meeting, it can be held at any time, no stress.
Enugu state is one of the states in the South East that are yet to key into the National Seafarers Development Programme (NSDP) of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA). Coming from the Maritime background, what is your plan towards getting your state to key into the programme so as to forestall the absence of the Enugu state indigenes in the sector in the near future?
That is part of the thing that is on my agenda. It is capacity building for my people. There is a lot of money in the maritime industry but unfortunately, my people have not tapped into it and I believe that with my presence there and then, with my understanding of what is going on in the industry that my state in no time will be a state to be reckoned with in the maritime affairs.
It was in the news that your governor, Sullivan Chime recently said that all political office holders who have served two or more tenures in their current positions especially as it affects law makers should retire for others to take over. Knowing full well that this is a democracy and that in advanced countries, law makers serve as many terms as possible because of the believe that the more experienced a law maker is in the process of law making the better for the nation. What is your take on this?
My governor is very correct. Our state is not advanced countries, there is no way we can compare the maturity of the advanced countries when it comes to law making. I mean, of course, you have a law, as a governor or the president, you have a number of tenure they do and they leave office.
But because there is a way a lot of people does, a legislator over there, they go to that place to represent their people. If a legislator is accused of one thing, he will not hesitate, nobody tells him one thing, he resigns, you don’t need anybody to start chasing him up and down. You don’t need the governor to start drumming it into your ears, in short, it should be the least of the governor’s worries, you are there to represent the people and the moment you no longer represent the people but yourself, I think it is high time you throw in the towel.
But because the governor have seen that so many people go into that place, the forget their people, they forget the reason they had gone to that place. They begin to see themselves as unreachable and untouchable.
And so, my governor felt that in a state like Enugu where there are as many intellectuals as possible, you have gone there, you probably have not delivered well or you might have delivered well but the governor has not said retire and retire home. The governor is only letting us know that if you leave the place, you can try another thing, you could be better in another area.
That is why in offices, they change people regularly from one department to the other. In the Ministry, somebody can be working in the Ministry of Transport today, tomorrow, he is in the presidency, next, you see him in the Ministry of Trade and investment, another time, he is in the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The more you go, if you are very intelligent, if you are too good in the Ministry of Transport and we found there is a leak in the Ministry of External Affairs, we want you to translate what you have done in the Ministry of Transport into the Ministry of External Affairs.
And that was what the governor has said. If you are so good, you are here and this part is leaking, transfer what you have done here to this place so that a whole lot of us can benefit not just putting them in one place. So, I mean, try your intelligence, translate what you have in your brain to this place, let the other sector grow too. Don’t come and plant yourself in one place and become a tap root there because where you think you are good, somebody else can come in and be better. So, let us try the other brains that we have.
Your governor has done well and the people are happy about it but recently, there was something he did that seemed not to go down well with the people. That is the impeachment of his former deputy, Mr. Sunday Onyebuchi which many believed he engineered on the ground that he was rearing chickens even when the Federal government was preaching the back to agriculture campaign. More so as it had proven that many of his predecessors toed the same line. What is your take on this?
Yes, people sit outside, all they talk about is impeachment, impeachment, the deputy governor was impeached. I will tell you exactly what happened somewhere where I live, there is a school that is very close there, a very large school, nursery, primary and secondary and then the proprietor of the school had a place where he reared chickens. Parents complained that that poultry was too close to the school, we cannot afford to have our children come to school and start coming back with poultry lice on them, take it somewhere.
And of course, you know, the smell, airborne diseases, it can cause anything for the children. We want this thing moved away from this place or we withdraw our children from the school. Instantly, the proprietor of the school relocated the poultry farm. This one is not governor Chime, this one is not deen a eputy governor, this one is not Enugu state, this one is in Lagos state.
So, if you are rearing chickens in the government house and probably, a lot of people might not have known how many times he had been told to remove this thing, how many of us have seen what the poultry was like? Is it just that he was rearing chickens? How good was he maintaining that poultry/
He was his deputy, they had worked together for so many years, for almost seven years, they have not had any problem. We have not heard the governor and his deputy had quarrels, there had not been any case of fight, it had been a peaceful administration. And so, something happened, the same governor that they said impeached his deputy still put him up at another place. Which showed you that the governor still loves him, he knows he is a man with intelligence, he knows he is a man with a lot of brain. He has not said, I am impeaching you, go back to the village or go and start carrying paper up and down, begin to look for places to say, I beg to apply and start looking for vacancies here and there.
The governor knew that this man still have something he will still need, what the state needs, we cannot let him go like that, simple, we can’t have you doing this here but we can have you doing this somewhere else and that is the way it is. People should stop this impeachment story.
But Madam there were insinuations in some quarters that that impeachment was all about interests as it was said that the former deputy governor wanted to contest for senate, the same position a close ally and Chief of Staff to governor Chime, Mrs. Ifeoma Nwobodo who incidentally come from the same senatorial zone with the former deputy governor wanted to contest also. Was that correct?
I am very glad you said there were insinuations. You know that sometimes, you will be your house, that is what people will say, you are in the house and you know what is trending in the market, meanwhile, you are in your house.
People were insinuating left, right and centre, is it not for the deputy governor and the Chief of Staff to go the poll? Will the governor tell him, you cannot run? It is a democracy, even if it the smallest person that wants to run, so far you meet the requirements. It is not even up to the governor to say you should not run, you have not met the requirements, it is the INEC and my state governor does not control INEC.
So, he had his money to buy his form, the Chief of staff has her money to her form, so where do we do it? We settle it in the battle field and where is the battle field? The polling boot, that is the place. So, nobody should say, let sit in their houses and tell us how much corn and rice were sold in the market yet they did not go to the market, let them keep insinuating.
Enugu state is one of the states that are yet to domesticate the Child right Act. What is your disposition towards this development?
But the right of every child in Enugu state has been properly protected. Enugu state is not in the list of where you have the children being treated anyhow.
If you go to the streets of Enugu state, you hardly see hawkers, come to the streets of Lagos, it is all over and that is because they can afford to use the children anyhow. I mean, go to Enugu state, the children still go to school, passed or not passed, we know that these are our children and they are being well taken care of.
The Act will be domesticated when there is time for it and we have made sure that there are no hidden clauses under the Act, that when the child right Act is domesticated, it is strictly child right Act, not child right Act with one clause that at the end of the day, you begin to wonder what is this which is what some of the bills that have been passed had done. A lot of people have been talking, you passed one bill, under the same bill, it was like leave my leg and hold my hand or leave my hand and hold my leg.
No child from Enugu state, as a matter of fact, every child from Enugu state are proud people and that is why people from other states are trooping into Enugu state to marry wives. Oh yeah, we are very proud people, very homely, very domesticated, very intelligent and very responsible.
What is your last word for the people of your constituency?
My last word for the people of my constituency is that they should just know that naturally, I love my people, I love the progress of my people, I am a home bred person, I am not a selfish person, I could see men and women doing very well. I am a happy person by nature and l like to see my people happy. I want to tell them yes, that this their child is going out there, not for myself but to go and represent them.
To make sure that inequality, inferiority complex leaves my people, that capacity building is one of the watchwords of my people, my people will not be disappointed in me come 2015.