Prof. Oluremi Sonaiya, is the only female presidential aspirant for the forthcoming presidential election holding on the 14th of February 2015. She is the flag bearer of Kowa Party.
Below are excerpts of her interview, were she talks about her ambition, women participation in politics and her plans for Nigeria.
What are you looking for in politics, having proven your worth in the academia?
I am looking for a good life for Nigerians — plain and simple.
Some people are of the opinion that there are two major candidates for the forthcoming presidential election and that others are mere pretenders. Are you one of the pretenders?
The people who think so are missing the point. In fact, they are not missing it; they are just wrong. I do not know why the Independent National Electoral Commission will publish a list of 11 candidates for the election and some people will take it upon themselves to reduce that number to two. It’s like when you are going to have an interview, and then you decide that there are candidates you are going to interview. That is not the case in these elections. INEC has judged 11 candidates qualified, I don’t know where people are getting only two candidates from.
Considering the fact that the Nigerian political landscape is male-dominated, don’t you think all you are seeking is political relevance?
Seeking for political relevance, in itself, is not a wrong thing. Seeking for political relevance, so that you can do well for the majority of the people, is what politics is and that is what has been driving me. Politics offers one the platform to do the utmost good for the greatest number of people. Of course, I am seeking to be politically relevant so that I can have that opportunity.
What is wrong if a woman becomes the president of Nigeria, when a woman is already president in Liberia? What is peculiar about us? Why can women head other countries and it cannot happen in our own land? I would like to understand what the thinking behind that is. Is it that we are completely different from other human beings?
If you are really keen on service to the country, why are you not contesting under a well-known political party?
I am contesting for presidency on the platform of the Kowa Party because values matter to me a lot. Principles matter to me a lot. And I do not think that I want to trade my conscience, values or principles for, maybe, more certain results politically.
Don’t you think that there were no strong candidates in your party, and that was why you emerged?
I don’t know why you feel that I am not strong enough as a presidential candidate. People were free to contest and we had primaries; there were four aspirants for the position.
How did you emerge?
We had the primaries.
How many females contested?
I was the only female that contested.
What is your political worth?
I am bringing hope and the certainty that things can be better. I am bringing freshness; no baggage with me; all the political baggage that holds us down.
How will you assess the incumbent President?
I am not interested in scoring anybody. I have said that what has been happening to us is unacceptable. We had broken promises. Do you know how long the government has been promising us to fix the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway? Do you know how long we have been on that issue? How long will it take to repair how many kilometers of road?
Why are you not contesting for governorship or a seat in the National Assembly, at least for a start?
Not that I see anything wrong with that; I have given much thought to what I am doing. I have written three books on the Nigerian conscience. I really think I should contest at the level I am contesting now. I am convinced about what I am doing
What is in your manifesto?
I have a vision of a Nigeria where nobody is excluded; where no individual suffers avoidable exclusion. That is what my manifesto is about. Of course, that has to be broken down into different issues of security, job provision or employment, education and ensuring that there is rule of law.
Political campaigns involve a lot of money. How are you funding yours?
I do not have one single moneybag, for which I am truly grateful because.
How much have you realized?
I am not going to tell you that. I am not about to declare how much I have realized right now. It’s still coming in. As money comes in, I can do this or that. I don’t have a huge sum of money streaming in.
How far have you gone to convince the electorate that you are the best candidate among the rest?
I cannot measure in that sense, but what I know is that I am exploring all the avenues that are available to me. I have been on television and radio. I have been interviewed by newspapers, both foreign and local. I am getting my message out as powerful and as clear a manner as I can. I am getting good feedback.
Are you confident that INEC will ensure free, fair and credible elections?
I really hope so. All eyes are on Nigeria. Everybody has been saying that the 2015 elections will be like a watershed for Nigeria
If you don’t win the election, what will be your next political step?
I am sure I will win the election. However, when I get to February 15, I will think about what to do next. I’ll see what God would have me do next.
Did you consult God before taking the decision?
I did. In all my ways, every single day, I ask him: ‘Direct me God. What is your will is for me; let me not go astray.’
What did God tell you?
Let’s keep that between me and Him. That’s a personal thing between me and God.
What are the challenges you have encountered so far?
I don’t think there is any particular challenge I am battling because I am female. What I have noticed is this reluctance of the Nigerian media to latch on to the reality that there are nine other contestants and they too need to be made known to the people. They seem to be struggling over themselves, popularising those who are extremely popular already
How supportive have your colleagues been towards the realization of your ambition?
I think you mean how supportive my husband has been. My husband is my number one supporter. I really want to publicly appreciate him and his sense of support. He is not your usual Nigerian man in terms of his ideas and perceptions
What is your message to the electorate?
My message to the electorate is that they should dare to believe in change. They should not agree that we do not have a choice. We cannot continue doing things the same way and expect things to change. They should let us work together. Let’s take that bold step towards the change that we have all been yearning for, so that we can have a good life for ourselves in Nigeria.
For more on her interview, visit Punchng.com