A presidential aspirant on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, Uju Ohanenye, speaks about her ambition is driven by her passion for humanity
Not much is known about you and what you do. Can you give an insight into your personality?
I am Mrs Uju Kennedy Ohanenye. I am married to Chief Kennedy Ohanenye and I have four children. I am a businesswoman; I’m into real estate and education. For over a decade, I have been touching lives, showering love on the underprivileged. I have built and equipped health centres in rural communities, where I also carry out empowerment programmes. Each time I visit a village and observe their needs, such as lack of health centres, I request for land and put up a fully equipped clinic. It usually takes about six months. I also build skills acquisition centres. I have done it in the North and the South; in Bichi, Kano, Kogi, Kaduna and about four in Imo State. I have also built in Anambra and other states. At least, I have donated between eight and 11 centres. But there are some that the people did not utilise because they preferred that I give them the money to build them themselves. This happened in Igboland and Kaduna. The health centres I built in Bichi and Kogi are well utilised by the people.
I also visit government hospitals where I pay for surgeries and the treatment of indigent patients, especially those detained over their inability to settle their bills. I also have many orphans I’m taking care of, including students on my scholarship scheme. One of them, a blind student, just graduated from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, with a First Class.
So, why do you want to be President?
I decided from the situation of these people and their conditions to get involved in this race. I am driven by my passion for humanity. And again, Nigerians need a mother for a change. The men have done their best; I don’t think it is good enough. So, I want to come in as a mother to show Nigerians love, get them involved in governance, which I believe will reduce banditry and crime by 70 per cent. If those involved in crime are engaged in gainful livelihood, nobody will convince them to get involved in something that can end their lives. Nobody wants to die. But when there is no solace or help from anywhere, some of them will simply take the risks just to help their mother or siblings. This is part of the issues we have, which I don’t think is being addressed so far.
What will be your policy focus if elected?
We keep talking about employment and I believe we can create more employment opportunities for our youths. Look at our roads for instance; we can engage the youth in fixing our roads; get the indigenes of communities involved in constructing the road in their locality. You can engage villagers to supply stones for the rehabilitation of the roads. On the day of my declaration for President in Abuja, I constructed a road to the venue with cement, sand and stones, and also put kerbs and the road is good. By doing so, you have created an avenue for people to make money. Go and see the road I constructed, it is very good. I engaged the Fulani; if you see them, you wouldn’t know they can handle the road construction. You may probably look down on them because nobody has given them opportunities. When you engage communities, the roads that cost billions of naira will only cost a few millions and you will equally achieve your objectives.
In terms of security, what will you do differently?
What I told you now about engaging our people will partly address the security crisis we are facing. The problem we have is that people are angry. Show them you care, announce it and get them involved. Let the big men be selfless and make these people feel like human beings. Most of those engaged in criminal activities, their lives are not worth living; they feel like dying and they don’t want to die alone. So, they are now taking as many lives as they can before they die. We must address that emotional part of it and this will take care of a lot of things. We can’t address the security challenges without providing for them; giving them money cannot solve the problem.
So, you think the government is not addressing the root cause of insecurity?
Yes. The root cause is lack of care and love. Rather than using religion, people fault religion and they have been duped by several religious outfits. If you eliminate or address poverty, many things will change, including mindset; people will stop doing certain things because they have something to live for; give them a reason to live. That is why people in advanced countries are fine because you will always have something to do to take care of yourself.
What is your assessment of the All Progressives Congress administration in the last seven years?
I don’t really want to talk about it because nothing has gone the way it should have gone. I don’t want to judge the government; I will rather we judge everyone that has ruled the country. To them, they did their best, but none of them went in the right direction. This issue can be tackled in one year. It is obvious that what they did, did not work. We need to change the way we are doing things; let’s localise our investments on infrastructure that will benefit Nigerians. Use local people and materials. If you neglect the people and give the contracts to foreign companies because they will bribe a few people, but the people you are neglecting are killing you and they may kill everybody if we are not careful, because they are very upset. Sending the military to kill them will not solve the problem; how many can you kill? As you are killing them, more are coming up because hunger is getting worse. We need to change our approach.
Are you satisfied with the level of women’s involvement in governance?
Not at all. Imagine, the Peoples Democratic Party has ended the sale of presidential nomination forms, but no woman bought. The APC wants to push me out because I’m a woman, but I’m going to fight. I have bought my form and we’ll see how it goes. It is not a human being that gives positions but God. So, I’m praying to God to look towards Nigeria and help us.
Do you think Nigerian women are assertive in politics?
If they are not, I am and I’m ready to fight for it. I’m ready to protect the downtrodden; that’s the reason I’m in politics. They asked me to come on board and that’s why I’m in this race. I have contacted my constituency from the ward, local government to state and the people in all the places I have carried out my charity are working for me. I will put in bigger efforts having bought my form. My jingles have started running on television and social media. I will be fully part of the process and nobody can push me out.
How do you see the decision of the APC to sell presidential forms for N100m?
To an extent, I feel it is high but I also believe it will discourage a lot of unserious people who may want to cause problems. I believe the reason is to ensure that only a few serious aspirants buy the form.
Have you occupied any political office before and why did you decide to contest the presidency and not governorship?
I have never occupied any political office or done a government contract or job before. No kobo of the government has got to me; I was never interested in politics, but I was interested in a few leaders who I supported financially like former President Goodluck Jonathan and President Muhammadu Buhari. During his second term bid, I donated T-shirts, banners, flyers and face caps in the hundreds of thousands. I gave them my malls in Owerri and Abuja as campaign offices, and also provided refreshments during meetings. I also spent hundreds of millions of Naira to support Jonathan’s ambition. I have passion for the downtrodden in Nigeria. If I become a governor, I can only do things for the people in my state. Now, if I am President, I can touch the life of every Nigerian.