‘My Goal Is To Continue To Be The Voice For Women and Children’
YOU celebrated your 50th birthday recently. How does it feel being 50?
I feel great, strong and the same. You know, I still exercise. I still do those things that I used to do. With age, you get more mature and know how to handle things differently. You have practically seen a lot. So, nothing seems to trigger you unnecessarily. Nothing rattles you. And I think that has been my case too.
Your re-election as a lawmaker under the platform of the All Progressive Congress was one of the keenly contested political contests in Lagos. What have you learnt about it?
Well, I have learnt that, because I have done what I was supposed to do in my constituency, the people voted en masse for me. Hence, I must continue to fight for the rights of the people of my constituency. I must continue to be a voice for them. And I must continue to represent them well. And I believe that because I have done that very well, they all ignored all obstacles (on the day of election) by coming all out to support and vote for me.
And it’s an advice to all other politicians too. When you take to office, it’ not just for you to win elections by making empty promises. It’s for you to fulfill all your promises. And I believe that at the Federal Government level, the people actually wanted that change. They were tired of lack of electricity, clean water, and other basic infrastructures and social amenities that promote decent living. They were equally tired of unemployment and insecurity occasioned by the growing brutality of the Boko Haram insurgents among others.
More Nigerians are now conscious politically. What should we expect differently in this your new legislative duty, compared to your last tenure?
In Lagos State, when we were campaigning, we were doing so for continuity. So, I will continue what I have been doing and build on it as well. One of my legislative efforts was the successful passage of the Domestic Violence Law in the state. It was a private bill that I sponsored and worked so hard to make sure that it was passed into law. The bill was passed into law in 2007 though.
After the passage of the law then, it seemed very new to the people of Lagos State because there was nothing like the Domestic Violence Law before. Previously, if you want an injunction on your abusive spouse, you have to either go through divorce or have a separation order from a court of competent jurisprudence. But with the law in place, there can be a restraining order, restraining the man from the abuse and still keeping the marriage intact at the same time.
In specific terms, what are the new things Lagosians should expect this time around?
Right now, I am working on the Gender and Equality Bill. When we talk about children, we also have to talk about gender. We have to talk about the women that take care of the children and make things easier for them. Let them have a level playing field to thrive.
It’s about time we begin to regard the Affirmative Action and 30 per cent inclusion (of women into elective and appointive leadership roles) in this country. In fact, it shouldn’t be 30 per cent at all. It should be much more than that. We should encourage our women. And that is why our party, APC, promised free forms for women aspiring for political offices, irrespective of whether they are already in office, seeking re-election or just making an attempt. This is a form of encouragement for women.
By and large, my utmost goal is to continue to be the voice of women and children. In demonstrating this, I equally worked hard on the Child Right Law with the Lagos State Government and ensured that it was passed into law. These are the kinds of things we need to be doing as women. We need to take care of the children. We need to take care of our husbands. We need to take care of ourselves.
And once we are able to do these perfectly, we would definitely see a positive reflection on the country.
There is this allegation of intimidation of women by men in politics. Based on your own experience, how true is this?
There is intimidation everywhere. But the important thing is that I would never bow to intimidation. Our leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu would tell you that power is not served as Zakat or Sadaqah. You have to go out there and work hard, preaching whatever cause you believe in, convince people before getting it.
Besides, I’m a professional. I’m a lawyer. In every aspect of life, you have those that make things happen, those that look at things happening and those that don’t care about what is happening. So, I am one of those that make things happen. Hence, intimidation is not a problem for me.
You were at a programme organized by Women Arise to commemorate the first anniversary of the missing Chibok girls. At the event, you laid emphasis on the needs for parents to instill morals and discipline in their children to prevent them from falling into danger and becoming wayward. Can you throw light on this?
Unfortunately, the challenges we are experiencing in Nigeria today stem from the issue of values and morals, where people have disregard for the rule of law and human lives. And once we train our children properly, equip them with morals and values, they would never break the laws of the land.
For instance, abduction is against the law of the land. It’s a criminal offence. And we must continue to train our children right, disabusing their minds away from such despicable adventure.
At the programme, you also mentioned the issue of unemployment as one of the reasons for terrorism and insecurity in the country. What do you think the government should do to permanently address it?
We should understand the fact that an idle mind/hand is the devil’s playing ground. With morals and values in place, things would improve a lot. However, we must also encourage the government in place, to make sure that our children, educated and illiterates, have gainful employment. While there may be certain jobs for the educated youths, there should also be aggressive and comprehensive Skill Acquisition programmes in place for the Human Capital Development of the non-educated youths. When properly trained, the latter youths can be experts in those fields and can earn legitimate and decent living from there. And they will not be idle.
You said in your speech that the President-elect, General Muhammadu Buhari has assured Nigerians of his commitment to finding the missing Chibok girls. Are you saying we have to wait till after May 29 before anything can happen?
Already, he (General Muhammadu Buhari) is working with the present government to find solution to the problem. And we can definitely assure Nigerians that as they put heads together; things would work out fine soon.
The President-Elect is doing everything within his power to make sure that the girls are brought back alive. And we know that definitely this promise would be kept by the time he gets into the office. But we must not forget that the incumbent President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan still has the power till May 29 when Buhari would be officially sworn into office. Afterwards, I believe things would work faster and better.
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