Dr Christiana Moji Yahaya-Kolade holds a Post-Doctoral Certificate in Family Medicine and a certificate as Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine of the New York College of Osteopathic Medicine, among others. She combines medical practice with management of a wide range of businesses both in Nigeria and the United States of America. She started romancing Nigerian politics some eight years ago and recently set forth to contest the governorship of Ekiti State. She tells Group Politics Editor, TAIWO ADISA, in this interview, that she would be inaugurated as Nigeria’s first female governor and that Ekiti is ripe for a woman governor. Excerpts:
EKITI State is known for its strong character in politics with men dominating the space. A lot of people believe that men are more fitted for that kind of politics. How do you hope to muscle through this challenge?
Let me introduce myself. I’m a daughter of Ekiti, born and bred. I grew up there. So, I’m not totally different from the average Ekiti man; as strong-headed as they could be, I am, equally. But one thing I know is that love captures a lot of things. When you are loving and caring and you are very honest with people and you deal with them with integrity, they tend to yield. You lead them aright, they follow you. But if they don’t trust you or they think there is something mischievous going on, then it will be very difficult for you. So, it’s not always strong head that makes things. Love, caring and compassion do a lot as well.
And you think those qualities go with politics, especially in Ekiti?
It does, because it depends on who you are. Everybody has a purpose and why they want to be in politics. My reason for being in politics is basically to serve mankind and to serve God. So, it’s for service. I want to do what is best and do the rightful thing and be fair, and be just with everybody. So, in that doing, it goes a long way. I think whether politics or business or wherever you find yourself, being honest, truthful, hardworking and just being yourself goes a long way. It works everywhere. I’ve heard companies in America, in Nigeria call me tough, but love works.
There are many aspirants on the ticket of APC. Are you on ground in the state?
Very much on ground. I’ve been on ground in Ekiti for the last 10 years, even though I have business everywhere. Some other places in Nigeria, Oyo State, in Ogun State, in Lagos, I have a lot of things I do. So, I’m always in and out going around.
Your curriculum vitae (CV) shows that you are somebody who stays more outside the country with your business concerns…
The CV says I’m versed internationally, but that doesn’t mean I stay out of the country. I stay very much in Nigeria too. It started in 2007. From 2007, I’ve been on ground. For the first three years, I was on ground, on and off. From 2010, I’ve been pretty much on ground in Nigeria. Of course, I travel internationally; I have a business out there, but I also have business here. I have people working for me and in this present day and age, you can monitor anything from anywhere in the world; Information Technology is there. I know what is going on even when I’m in Lagos or when I’m in my village in Ekiti. The only time I have problem is when the internet wifi is not working effectively. But when it works, I’m very much acquainted with everything going on.
But do you really think Ekiti State is ripe for a woman governor?
Exactly; this is what we find on ground. I’ve been on ground as I said, for almost eight years. I was on ground when the last administration was there. I get involved in charity a lot. My entrance into politics was not really politics directly; it was charity. I am a very charitable person. I have an organisation that is called Moji-Kolade Foundation. In short, it’s called Mokolade, because I’m Moji Kolade.
I deal with a lot of women, widows and youths. I empower people and that is how I got involved in what is going on. That was what really exposed me to the poverty level in the state. A lot of people are really poor. People have little to nothing. It’s very difficult for them to eat three good square meals or even two meals a day and people cannot even afford the cost of their healthcare. How do I know? Because they ask for help for education, for healthcare, for a lot of variety of things and because I got involved at this charity level, it exposed me to the level of need that we really have.
On whether Ekiti is ripe for a woman governor, you don’t need to have the XY chromosome to lead. Basically, what I see is that the same chromosome that takes you to school and excel in business makes you excel in government.
One thing I also want to add is that it has been well-documented that in most countries of the world, we have women leaders that have been very successful even much better than the men, irrespective of how difficult the society has been. It’s been proven in Germany, in Philippines, even with Madam Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia. So, it has been known to be effective in most places.
The Chilean president just left office and you could see everybody hugging her. That means she was effective; she is loved by her people. Women are good administrators. They administer the home, they manage the family, manage the community. If we are given opportunity, we can manage the country.
How long have you been in the party structure and party. How well have you got in touch with the grassroots as a member of the APC, outside the activities of your foundation?
I came in as a charity person and I got involved. I’m a registered member of ACN and APC. I’ve been in this thing for a while. I’ve been a politician, maybe not actively participating or looking for a position to hold, but I’ve been very much involved with the grassroots people. I’m known in my ward and in my local government. In my state, I’ve been one of the financiers of a lot of events going on among the people, because you cannot do politics without money. Even though I think it is charity, I am actually empowering people that are involved in politics. Therefore, I am one of the women stakeholders in the politics in Ekiti. There is a group called the women stakeholders. I am one of them. So, I’ve been on ground for a while. I know what it takes to be a politician. Actually, I am a grassroots politician. They are the majority. They are the people that really need empowerment and they are the people that come to me or talk to me, especially the women.
I work with the widows as well as other women. I work with youths and those are the majority of the people, the voters. I can predict that they are about 70 per cent of the people that are going to vote. That is my constituency. They are my people. They’ve been my people for the last seven or 10 years.
Within the structure of the APC, there are over 30 other aspirants and it is said that one of the aspirants is in control of the party structure. How do you want to emerge as candidate?
That is being popularly said everywhere that the former governor has the party structure. But the truth on ground is that, this is far from the truth. He may have put the people there, he doesn’t own the structure. Everybody realised what happened in the last election and apart from that, people are people. We in Ekiti know what is going on; you can put a structure together, that doesn’t guarantee you owning those people. Nobody owns anybody. It has been publicly said by the national chairman of the party, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun that there is no anointed candidate. I believe him 100 per cent, because he said it publicly and I’ve spoken to the leaders of the party and they said there is no anointed candidate. Even though people parade themselves as anointed candidates, we that are Ekiti people know what is going on. You cannot be an anointed candidate when you cannot win a vote in your own polling unit.
Outside your party, the APC, there is the Fayose challenge in Ekiti. The last time, he said he was able to defeat the APC 16:0 and he repeated the same in the general election. How can you beat such a man who is backing a candidate?
At that time, it was because there was a fracture in the system already. What do I mean there was a fracture? There was a break in the system. When the government is not connecting with the citizens, then obviously, there is something wrong. You need to know your people and your people need to know you. The government at that time did not know the people they were governing. If you don’t know the people you are governing, of course you will get a 16:0 defeat. If you don’t know the needs; you don’t know what they want, you would think you are giving them what they want, but you are not meeting their needs. And their needs is not just to give everybody N1,000, give them crumbs; their needs is to acknowledge the people, support the people, empower the people, make them better, give them jobs and make things work within the state.
Has anything changed?
This is what I know. Fayose is the governor now. From what I know, salary is being owed, nine months, six months, pension is being diverted, people are unhappy, people are dying left, right and centre. A lot of things are breaking down. Education is getting worst, healthcare is zero. There is no industry. There is no good road. There is this bridge to nowhere. Nothing is going on. Everybody is fed up with what is going on. They are looking for a breath of fresh air.
The post As a woman, I know how to make Ekiti a prosperous state —Yahaya-Kolade, gov aspirant appeared first on Tribune.