ELISHAMA ROSEMARY IDEH
You might not take her seriously or perhaps disregard her as someone delusional. But what you cannot take away from her is her bare face guts! Her ability to defy the odds and come out to declare for a race in a domain where some men would not even dare tread. One cannot but doff one’s hat at her confidence and courage. Like it or not, it takes a lot to veer into the terrain of politics more so when you aspire for the most coveted seat of the land and even bigger still... as a green horn with no political experience whatsoever. And even more so a female! If nothing else, she has to be admired for her determination and drive. Born in Lagos in 1964, Elishama Ideh attended Mayflower Primary School in Ikenne, Ogun State, and Federal Government Girls School (FGGC), Onitsha, Anambra State and thereafter enrolled at Bowie State College in Maryland for a degree course in Mass Communications. On her return to Nigeria, Elishama ventured into Real Estate focusing on low-income traders and market people. This engagement was the seed that manifested into the philanthropic movement she is known for today. She later ventured into the Oil and Gas business, achieving further success. As time went on, Elishama chose to face what mattered deeply to her - helping people actualize their potentials. She became a change agent. Her activities through her various NGOs have been instrumental to the creation of numerous opportunities in education, skill acquisition, vocational training and entrepreneurship for vulnerable groups. Many of the recipients have been reoriented and have found a new sense of direction. Dr. Ideh is the proud recipient of numerous local and international laurels too many to mention. To this end, she set up Partnership for a New Nigeria (PFANN), an NGO, which has been adopted by (Alliance For New Nigeria) ANN, the party under whose umbrella she is running for President. Not deterred by what is up against her in the slippery slope of politics, she has entered the arena to run for the Presidential ticket. Her boundless energy, razorsharp intelligence, and audacity in the face of formidable odds is her strength, not to mention her unflinching focus and love for her country. Elishama’s goal and desire is to spread hope among Nigerians. It is for these reasons she has decided to take the bull by the horn and run for the Presidential ticket of the Federal Republic of Nigeria come 2019! Konye nWaBoGor reports
What steps are you taking to ensure you have a strong support of nigerians as you run for the coveted seat of President of the Federal Republic of nigeria?
From the moment i was convinced that this is what i want to do, i immediately assembled a team of young dynamic, cerebral and passionate nigerians who share my passion for a new nigeria and together we have been engaging with different groups, sharing and pushing my vision out thoroughly. My immediate constituency, the humanitarian community, market women, widows, the street people, rehabilitated drug addicts and the downtrodden that i have served for over two decades are highly mobilized and are mobilizing for the vision of a new nigeria where all can thrive and realize their God given purpose.
In a terrain where no woman has ever become governor talk less of President, (unfortunately so), why did you choose to go for the top seat as opposed to running for a position in the national Assembly to start with?
First i must state that this gender narrative is unfair and unjust and appears to suggest that women are only good enough to play second fiddle. We all claim to be educated and exposed, yet we hang onto primordial cultural sentiments that tend to undermine the grace and potentials of women. This country has produced women of great historical importance. How could we forget the women whose heroic acts shaped the destiny of our nation? Like Queen amina who reigned over the Zaria emirate, Princess inikpi of igalaland, Queen Omu Okwe of Ossomala, Queen idia of Bini kingdom, Margaret ekpo, Mrs Fumilayo Ransome kuti among so many others in between, Dora akunyili who fought so hard to bring an end to fake drug importation and production in nigeria or Dr. ameyo adadevoh who gave her life in the course of her duty to stop the epidemic spread of ebola in spreading into our nation. so we have a rich history of great women who have occupied the reigns of power, and i intend to join their ranks.
in direct response to your question, i am on a rescue mission and only the Presidency offers me the latitude to execute my vision of mid-wiving a new nigeria as a mother would give life to a baby. i and my team aim to run an issue based campaign and not a gender lamentation crusade.
Many people like yourself have tried and failed mainly because they do not have the political clout, experience and money for campaigning. So as a relatively green horn in the political arena, do you have any godfather or political heavyweights behind you or do you think courage and determination is enough to take on the challenge?
Well, i don’t have any political godfather as they call it, but i have a Father, the almighty God who is higher, richer, bigger and stronger than all mortal men of power and i have the courage, determination, passion, and unflinching belief in our capacity as a people as well as my capacity to inspire a true change in our nation. i am pushing forward a newness and freshness of vision, ideas, sincerity, honesty that resonates across different demographics in nigeria. Most of whom have already taken ownership of this quest and are willing to pay whatever price is required to see this vision through.
In a country as complex as nigeria with their various tribes and tongues not to mention this quota ticket of Muslem and Christian, what have you successfully run in the past that you think prepares you for the complexity of the role of President?
i have ventured into the challenging but exciting world of Real estate, focusing on low income traders and market people who ordinarily could not afford shops in upscale or medium-income locations. For example, i built low-cost shopping complexes for the disadvantaged in the Ogba business axis in ikeja and other parts of Lagos state, i also upgraded segments of the Ogba Retail Market into an ultra-modern business hub, a development which has gone a long way to enhance the economic capacity of market people among other not too popular but important locations around Lagos state. i also play in the mucky terrain of Oil and Gas business and its supply chain for a season creating thousands of jobs around the country.
We all know that morale amongst the young generation is at an all time low because their leaders have failed. Before you began this race, what stringent steps, in your own way, have you taken to better the lives of youths to elevate their morals and beliefs?
in the past 20 years, i have invested my life in humanitarian services to mankind, with bias to widows, orphans, youths, street kids etc. We have conducted empowerment programs targeted at the less privileged in poor neighborhoods where area boys, drug addicts, street people and the disabled were helped up the social ladder. in this process, we have empowered and moved scores of people from under the bridge to comfortable homes in safe neighborhoods away from the environment that has been influencing them negatively. Through my social and humanitarian platforms like CTeM, PF a an( Partnership For a new nigeria ), we have counseled and mentored thousands of youths. Most of whom are key personnel’s involved in this quest for a wider platform to continue our transformational, reformatory and rehabilitation work.
There has also been an upsurge of drugs used prevalently as an escape route for the youths from their harsh realities on ground. Many of their caretakers are also not well equipped or qualified enough to guide and lead them out of this despair. Will this be one of the pertinent issues you will address in your campaign?
even before now, this has been an area of concentration in my socio-community work. We have been running reformation, rehabilitation and empowerment projects for the disadvantaged, the social outcast especially drug addicts. young people seek escape from their frustrations. My government will pursue educational and economic programs that will inspire hope, provide solutions and the enabling environment for our youths to thrive and be the best they can be. Our youths are not lazy, as been suggested, all they need is an environment where training, preparedness meets opportunity.
Why do you think less people in the private sector refuse to dabble in the murky waters of politics and as such leave us at the mercy of those who chose to rule us as they see fit?
Our problem is self-inflicted. The elites, technocrats and professionals fought to wrestle power from the military only to abandon the responsibility of managing the power, leaving it for funny characters to usurp. and again the elites don’t come out to vote. The consequence is what we have now, the wrong group that filled the power vacuum has consolidated their hold and as in all case of vested interest. They have introduced practices like violence and inducement as a way to acquire power, creating power mongers who will go to any length to strengthen their strong hold on power. in these, they have discouraged those who have something to offer but cannot stand the heat.
Seeking solace from a higher being seems like the only channel for mental, emotional and spiritual growth, no doubt about that. But it is clear that that is not enough to move this nation forward to greener pastures. For those who you have preached to and are still preaching to, how else do you encourage them to play a larger role in the system for their tomorrow to be better than what it is today?
To be honest with you, i have been an advocacy of faith without work is dead. so if you can work for what you want, it will surely yield result. We are a highly religious nation, Christians, Muslims, traditional african beliefs etc, but really, where has it gotten us? yes finding solace in God and other religious activities helps to keep you focused and emotionally balanced to some extent. Beyond that we must move forward and take responsibilities for our lives and our nation. if you do religious activities from morning to night and don’t take responsibilities, you are only prolonging the pain. We must take actions to get to where we want to go, life abhors vacuum and so does God. Change starts from us as individuals; we must be the change that we desire. if you want a productive nation, be a productive person, if you want an honest nation, be an honest person, if you desire a just and fair society, be just and fair in all your doings.
Some might say your chances are extremely low based on the history and track record of those before who made little or no impact in the race. You might be even be accused of using this channel to gain some level of recognition hoping to secure a seat for yourself in government in their next dispensation. What’s your take on this?
We must begin to change the narrative of what public office is all about. Public service essentially
I am on a rescue mission and only the Presidency offers me the latitude to execute my vision of mid-wiving a New Nigeria as a mother would give life to a baby. I and my team aim to run an issue based campaign and not a gender lamentation crusade
is about serving the people directly, going into their domain to know what their situation is in terms of health/food/housing and education and this is what i have done for over two decades now; mentoring, counseling, reforming crooked lives, rehabilitating, empowering, and proffering practical solutions to problems confronting individuals and communities. For me there is no record of public service that can be greater than that. The experience i am bringing to the table is the social capital that i have acquired in decades of direct service to the critical but neglected sector of our society. sometimes we tend to project the public sector as if it is the ‘be all and end all’ of professional life. in places like the united states, you cannot have a seat in government if you don’t have experience in community service, it is in this part of the world that we have people go into government without any experience in the actual community service. The world is moving forward and so must nigeria, a few weeks ago both italy and spain had people who have never worked in the civil or public service as president. Before then america, a great nation voted in a man who has been in business most of his life with no experience in government as President.
What inspired you to take this plunge and how mentally prepared are you to take on this Herculean task?
The poverty level is simply too high for anyone in my position to play the ostrich, if you google the world poverty clock statistically, it has been stated that every second, a nigerian is falling into poverty. The implication is that 61% of nigerians right now are living below the poverty line and if you do a rough calculation, that’s about 122million of our citizens falling into abject poverty in a country so blessed. so for me this is unacceptable. and as a concerned citizen of this great nation, this has placed a heavy burden on my conscience because the faces of the people i have been serving represent the faces of 61% nigerians. nigeria ought not to be in this situation. The mission to rescue this nation from this present unjustified sordid state is my ispiration.
How did you form your party and who are the key members there now?
i didn’t form the party, the movement i belong to adopted my great party (alliance For new nigeriaann). it is a party formed by professionals. The national chairman is Dr. j samuels and our national secretary is Dr. Osita Okonkwo, these are a group of young professionals that are tired of the current status quo in our nation.
Are you the only female contesting?
yes i am the only female candidate in my party among other male candidates.
From now henceforth, your life will be a microscope with no detail, good or bad, left out. How have you prepared your family for such scrutiny into their lives and yours?
Women are the natural homes makers, they nurture and can juggle many balls at the same time. My children are very well adjusted and will not have any problem coping with the open book our lives are likely to become soon. But i will not be the first, Liberia had a female President and from the look of things she handled it well, i intend to follow in her footsteps.
We wish you luck in your proposed venture and greatly admire your courage and confidence, but should you not get it, what will you like to be most remembered for during this race?
someone once said that if there was no Martin Luther king, there wouldn’t have been an Obama. i have been a transformational figure all my life and a pacesetter. i believe it is in my destiny to set the pace for others to follow. so i believe a lot of good will come out of this for others to follow. But let’s not get it mixed up, i am not in this race to have fun, i am in this race to win. My faith is in an awesome God.
In the game of politics, you face a lot of betrayals and disappointments. There are no friends or foes. An enemy today is a friend tomorrow depending on self-interest. These are inevitable in most campaign races. Do you have any advisers or political seasoned hands to lead and guide you through this slippery terrain?
i have a solid team.
When you are faced with challenges generally, how best do you approach and deal with issues?
i am a woman of faith and prayer. When i am faced with challenges, my first line of action is to seek the face of God who alone brought me thus far, and subsequently i take counsel and direction from knowledgeable individuals.
Lastly, what advice will you give to any woman planning to tread in a domain mostly dominated by men. What key traits must she develop to be able to hold her own and if not even better than the men?
i don’t see people from the narrow pigeon hole of gender. Men and women are created to complement each other and not to compete with each other. i take on people as individuals with different shapes, character traits and intellect. as a woman, i honour my husband and all men. There was a time in isreal when the nation was in crisis; a mother in isreal -Deborah arose who was also a wife, she led men to war to change the status quo and gave the highly desired deliverance that was needed in her nation then. i in nigeria at this hour .... i am rising as a Deborah in our land. God bless nigeria.
Someone once said that if there was no Martin Luther King, there wouldn’t have been an Obama. I have been a transformational figure all my life and a pacesetter. I believe it is in my destiny to set the pace for others to follow. So I believe a lot of good will come out of this for others to follow. But let’s not get it mixed up, I am not in this race to have fun, I am in this race to win.