Dr. Mojisola Yaya-Kolade, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), is a governorship aspirant in Ekiti State. She spoke with reporters in Lagos on her chances at the primary and the preparations for the July 14 poll. EMMANUEL OLADESU was there.
Why do you want to be governor of Ekiti?
I am bringing a lot into the race, in terms of professional experience, entrepreneurship experience and the passion for the people. I have been a business woman, an employer and a supporter of charity. I empower women and youths; widows who are taking care of their children, artisans and peasants who are in apprenticeship, but who cannot provide for themselves. I have an NGO, the Christiana Ebenezer Kolade Foundation.
There are many aspirants in the race. What gives you the confidence that you could defeat people like Dr. Fayemi and Chief Oni at the primary?
If the incumbent was that good, he wouldn’t be defeated in the first place. That’s my opinion. I am a woman. I have done a lot of things internally and locally. I have created jobs. That’s what the people of Ekiti actually needs. There is a huge unemployment rate in Ekiti. College and university graduates are driving Okada. That is not a pleasant sight. Providing job is going to give me an edge. I believe in women empowerment. Any country that wants to succeed now cannot dismiss the place of women in politics and governance. That is part of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). That is very important. There is no need to create inequality between men and women. In 1995, the Beijing Conference recommended an affirmative action on women participation. The youths who are jobless are in the same ages with my children. I need to cater for them. We have plans on how to actually create these jobs.
How are you trying to reach the people at the grassroots?
I can into politics for the purpose of empowerment for the people. I have been involved in Ekiti in the last five years. I saw the hospitals. I saw the schools. In the schools, there are no books. The hospitals are not habitable for human beings. We have glorified clinic s which we call hospitals. That is not acceptable. These are things that need to be repaired. I am a business women, a nurse, a pharmacist, a consultant in medicine. I and my husband own the only privately owned facility in the whole of Connecticut. In Nigeria, I am also a farmer. I have over 300 hectares of farm land. We need to explore our natural resources. It can be done in Ekiti for the benefit of our people. This is how to increase the IGR from the ridiculous level that it is now. We cannot be expecting allocations from the Federal Government. We need to make money. If Lagos can do that, we can do it in Ekiti. We have land for mechanized farming.
What support have you gotten from the womenfolk?
Huge. A momentum going on. They were enthusiastic. They were actually looking for a woman to come out. They were not sure they would get somebody. When I declared and I told the Acting Chairman, women were excited. It was a welcome development to them. I know their plight. I am working with the women and the youths. They are happy that I am in the race, a mother, an intellectual and a highly compassionate woman.
How popular are you with the delegates who will select the flag bearer?
I will say Iam popular. I am the only woman. That o=is unique. I am a woman in the sea of men. I am not a stranger to them. In the last eight years, I have been very active among the women. In Ekiti North they know me. With the women and youths, we have the support. So, we are ready.
The South is agitating for zoning. What is your position on the rotational governorship?
I won’t necessarily support rotational governorship. I believe the best candidate; the most qualified person should emerge. Zoning is a problem. When it is adopted, that means the leaving out the most qualified candidate for the less qualified. A state is a state. That is the problem we are having in our country; sectionalism, tribalism. The most qualified person should emerge, either from the North Central or South.
What is the strength of your party in relation to the ruling party which has the power of incumbency?
The power of incumbency failed in the past. It will fail again this time. At the federal level in the last election. In the last Ekiti governorship election, it failed. It will fail again. All you need is a qualified candidate, who is capable, and the people actually believe in the person. If they trust you and they now you will deliver, people are not stupid. They are intelligent. Even, the illiterates know what is good for them.
Judging by your experience, what is your assessment of how politics is played in the United States and Nigeria?
That’s is a big question. I wished we were there. But unfortunately, we are not there. It took them 200 years to get to where they are. We are only a country of 57 years. We are going to be 58 years. So, we are a young country. It took them a lot of time to gain experience. We are growing. We are getting better by the day. People know that their votes count. They know their vote is their power. In the past, we didn’t even see women aspiring to the position of governor. The last we had was the State of Taraba that failed. There is a woman in the race now in Ekiti. Moji Yaya-Kolade is going to be the next governor of Ekiti. I am very confident.
Why are you starting politics at the level of governor? Why not start with the House of Representatives or the Senate?
This question has been asked before. Governor Fashola did not start from the Senate. Fayemi started as governor. Aregbesola started as a commissioner. When you have the acumen, you can take up the challenge. I have done some things for my life before. The questions we should ask are what contribution have you have to humanity, what have you done before? A lot of people just got to the position without all these. And that’s why there is failure. If everybody will have to crawl, the former governor of Lagos, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed, would not have got to the present level. He left the Senate and became the governor. I don’t know why people are asking this question. Is it because I am a woman? We all went to school. I have done it in private life; I will do it again in public life.
What are you running for governor in the APC?
I was involved in politics in the Diaspora. I was involved in the PDP. I was trying to see what they were doing. Immediately I came back to Nigeria, I saw that I could not continue with them. I was actually a woman leader in the PDP, in the Diaspora. I got to Nigeria and saw the actuality on ground and discovered that the PDP is not my kind of party. To work for the people, to work for the welfare of the people, I chose the APC. I have always contributed to the development of the party. I supported Fayemi regime in Ekiti State. It is not by our power that we are where we are. It is by the grace of God. I have four professions, degrees, certificates in America, Nigeria. There is need to ive back to mu=y community and my people. I have been involved in charity when I was 16 years old. It is my way of life. I just need a bigger ground to do what I have been doing for the people.
Politics is expensive and Ekiti is not an exception. How prepared are you for the challenge?
We have been spending money. And we are still going to spend. You spend because there is a reason to do so. You believe there is need to change some things. You put your money where your moth is. If you are ready to serve and you are not ready to spend a dime of your money, then, you are not serious. There is nowhere in the world where money is not involved. The only difference is that the way people contribute in the western world is not the way people contribute in Nigeria. In United States, people support the candidate after he has emerged. My husband is supporting me. It is encouraging.
Do you have a godfather?
I have. God is my godfather.
What are the conditions that may make you to step down from the race?
Never. The answer is never. I am not running for the deputy governor. I am running for the governor of Ekiti State because I have my own ideas, I have my own agenda. I have thought about it over the years. I did not just stumble on it. I am thinking about how I can make a big difference. And I have been making a big difference. I want to make a big difference on a bigger platform.
What is your Plan B?
I have my business. I am fully engaged. I am a very busy woman, professionally. I am an entrepreneur. So, I am not stepping down. No compromise.
What should Nigeria do to turn around its politics?
Corruption should be tackled. Women participation in politics should be encouraged. A society that is putting its women in a corner is actually hurting itself. If you put a woman forward, he would introduce policies that will improve the lives of women, the youths. They know how to manage the home. Look at Margret Thatcher. The Iron Lady. In the British history, she ran three times, change the face of the economy and the country. From 1853, she was the longest serving prime minister. Angela Marcus of Germany. Serlef Johnson of Sierra Leone. Very excellent. In Nigeria, we have suppressed our women too much. We are actually hurting this community. The moment our en recognise the quality of women, that is when our politics will improve. We have many competent women in the country who can do it.