ELISHAMA ROSE­MARY IDEH

THISDAY Style - - COVER -

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.

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