By Gilbert Ekezie
Dr (Mrs) Vivian Nwakaego Obi is the Diaspora Women Leader, Ndigbo in APC and National Deputy President, Igbo Progressive Union, South West. She has been exceptional in advocacy for women and youth development for many years. Obi is a grassroots woman who does not relent until success is achieved.
Looking back, how would you characterise the campaign of the All Progressives Congress, APC, that produced Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu as governor of Lagos State in 2019?
Oh! It was somehow hectic. I was in the committee of VVIPs and under entertainment. I worked with the APC State Women leader, Hon (Mrs) Okoya-Thomas and among the top 10. As one coming from the grassroots, I tried to stabilize. One day, I was embarrassed by another member of the committee who saw me as a gate-crasher, even when I was wearing a tag. They said, they did not know me, tried to bench me and I cried. It took the intervention of those who knew me, before they believed that I was part of them. However, that strengthened my relationship with the person who embarrassed me as he apologized thereafter. In fact, it was the day we went for campaign at Ikeja that the present Chairman of NURTW, Lagos State, MC Oluomo was stabbed. It was very stressful that we visited senatorial zones in the state and held various party meetings. I am glad that after all the struggles and sleepless nights, APC’s candidate, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu was victorious.
What would you say is the compensation for your efforts during the campaign period?
You see, in service, one should not expect immedidate compensation. What I am after is the outcome of my efforts and I am happy that I am part of Governor Sanwo-Olu’s success story. Though no one has reached me from the state level since then for whatever reason, I feel satisfied that I did what I was supposed to do, as a good party member and still working harder for the common interest of the party. Besides, in my constituency, Oshodi Isolo II, the State House of Assembly member representing it, Hon. Jude Idimogu, appointed me as his Special Adviser on Political Matters and Ndigbo Affairs, and we have been working very hard to move APC forward both in Lagos State and beyond.
You said you have been working very hard to see that APC moves forward, especially in Lagos State where you reside, could you rate the performance of the party in the state?
For me, APC is a progressive party and it is making much progress in Lagos State. Those behind the party are working hard to build the state, and all can see the level of economic growth and development in the state. That is because the party has sustained the tempo. Though, every government has its own issues, but in spite of that, the APC is doing very well in Lagos State, there is no doubt about that.
How do you see Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s aspiration to become president of Nigeria, come 2023?
Well, there is no issue about that. I call him the sellable. I think his ambition is driven by men and women he built, and I believe he is competent, capable and ready to go for the position of president, except otherwise.
What made you to describe Tinubu as ‘sellable’?
Obviously, he has a track record of political achievements. He has built so many people in politics and other areas. He is a political stategist who always fights systematically to get what he wants when it comes to politics.
You are the National Matron of Tinubu Media Team (TMT ). What is the mission of the group?
TMT is out to enhance a structure that will give an edge to Tinubu’s ambition in 2023. I am hopeful that when you look at what he has done in the area of raising fishers of men and women, you would want to be among the partakers of his success story. That is why we are using the team to project and propel him to success in his aspiration.
How did TMT come to be?
I started TMT as the Imo State Women Leader and it was officially inaugurated in 2018 in Abuja by APC stalwarts who keyed into the vision. Today, it has a recognized strength of 36 state chapters and Abuja, with more than 500 branches in local government areas. We also have TMT units in United Kingdom, United States, Italy and Holland. TMT is the first platform in Nigeria to launch the interest of Tinubu to be present. All the efforts are to ensure that we have the largest platform for Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. I started as the Imo State Women Leader and as I speak, I still travel to Imo for meetings, for you to see how passionate I am to serve.
Seeing the way things are going in Nigeria today, how do you see the contest between the major political parties, APC and PDP, in the South, where it is being speculated that the presidential position would be zoned to, come 2023?
In case the zoning arrangement works, and the South is given the chance to produce the next president, I think that any interested person from the south, has the right to contest. And, in APC, if anyone knows he or she is capable, let the person declare intention and at the end, the people will decide who represents them.
By marriage, you are from Orlu in Imo State. Ndigbo are agitating seriously to be given the opportunity to produce the next president. How do you see that?
Obviously, that is a good agitation. Ndigbo have the right to agitate for their own share, which is due. However, they should not forget that what is being talked about is partisan politics. So, if they want to have an edge over others, they should pave their way into the mainstream of Nigerian politics. Igbo cannot get the presidential position only on their own, they need others. Therefore, Igbo leaders should work in harmony in order to penetrate the political setting to bargain for their interest. As it is, we want to see the measures Ndigbo are putting in place to get the position of president. Are Igbo leaders for or against their people when it comes to politics? Are they really working for Igbo interest or their pockets? So, Ndigbo should show the seriousness in them and work to prove that they are ready to take over power. For me, it is not enough to agitate. Let the action start.
By birth, you are from Ugwashi-Ukwu in Delta State. What do we expect after the tenure of Governor Okowa?
Governor Okowa is from Ika South, an, Igbo speaking part of Delta State. So, by zoning formular, the Anioma people have taken their own share. I think the next zoning will go to either Urhobo or Ijaw speaking area, which I know APC is seriously warming up for and working so hard to ensure that the mandate of Deltans to be aligned with the federal, will be achieved this time. Efforts are being made to achieve that. Wherever it is being zoned to, APC will produce a better candidate for the governorship position. In fact, the party is on the mission to rescue Delta State.
You are optimistic that APC will take over in Delta State in the next governorship election. Does it mean that the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the state is not doing well?
To an extent, it is not ideal to say that a government is not performing because there is always progress in every leadership. But, we want a better Delta where the state should be aligned politically to the federal government, in order to get what we want.
How would you rate President Buhari’s government?
So far, so good. I would say that he is not who many Nigerians think of him. We can see that the economy has been revived, from production, food, transport, security and other areas of infrastructure. He is really doing his best to ensure the insecurity in Nigeria stops. Nigerians called for the removal of service chiefs, and he has done that and brought in new people. We are hopeful that they will live up to expectation. I think it is a gradual process. This is the first time of APC in government and I believe with time, Nigeria will be better.
Do you have any ambition for an elective position or appointment?
Actually if my friends, political allies in my community, constituency, localty and state see my prospects, achievements and contributions and deem it necessary to give me any political task or duty, I will oblige. I am ready to serve.
What is Progressive Women Advocacy Organization all about?
The the non-governmental organization is my passion, and I have the vision and strategy towards it. It is founded on a vision to elevate and push the Nigerian economy, to support the small scale businesses, counsel people of low esteem, train, give them skills and ensure that they are engaged in one thing or the other. I partner with ambassadors and philanthropists who are ready to assist, no matter how little. It could also be said that the NGO is working with the APC government to build and develop women politically. We are working to ensure that women come together to achieve a common goal.
Would you say Nigerian women are well placed politically?
With the percentage we are seeing, I do not think Nigerian women are well placed politically. We are looking for at least 35 percent, but do not have up to 10 percent for now.
What do you think is the reason for women’s low participation in politics in Nigeria?
I believe it is a result of the political policy. I suggest it should be strengthened to give both men and women opportunity. The opportunity might not be equal, but let women be well placed. They are good nation builders. They will do well if given the necessary support. So, I am advocating that more women should be given the opportunity to participate actively in politics, either through election or appointment.
But it is said that women are their worst enemies and not ready to support one another politically. Do you believe that?
It is true and that is why we are working towards correcting the anomally. Actually, Nigerian women need more orientation on that aspect. Women need to strategize to take the position they deserve, not only in politics, but in other areas. I am out to work for the liberation of women who have been sceptical about politics and social activities. Nigerian women deserve more attention because they have all it takes to be recognized.