Amb. Ginika Tor Williams, a seasoned journalist and politician is a member of the the All Progressives Congress (APC). In this interview, she speaks on the need for effective representation of women in political offices, among other issues.
What’s your take on the role of women in government?
Women are critical partners in nation building and they constitute nearly half the population of this country. So, they are a force to be reckoned with in our country. Don’t forget also about affirmative action promoted by the United Nations wherein women are to be allowed to occupy political positions to help in building nations. In places like Britain, Germany, Philippines and Croatia, women have been elected Presidents or Prime Ministers. So, I believe women should be given more chances in our political space in Nigeria.
Is that what inspired you to join the race for the House of Representatives seat in your constituency?
My greatest inspiration is from the Almighty God who said to me that he has heard the cry of my people for quality representation and that I should go and rescue them from poor representation. Secondly, it is in response to the cry of my people for a someone who truly cares and is committed to giving them a better life.
With the growing furore between lawmakers and their constituents over accountability in the utilization of constituency projects, what will you do for your people differently when you eventually become a federal lawmaker?
First of all, I am one of the people that strongly believe that Legislators should not directly manage constituency funds but should be preoccupied with legislation. Constituency projects should be executed by the executive arm of government with the input of lawmakers through appropriations. Having said that, as a lawmaker I will ensure accountability through a participatory approach. I mean I will consult widely with my constituents on the projects that are dear to them and get them involved in the execution process. I will work with the executive to award these contracts to indigenes of the local government where the projects are to be sited. Also, through my quarterly constituency briefings, I will avail to my constituents the details of monies received and ongoing projects in my constituency.
What will you do to halt youth restiveness in your constituency?
Youth restiveness should have been contained if our leaders recognise the fact that our greatest assets as a nation are our youths. We, as representatives of our people must engage these youths, provide jobs for them, sponsor some of them to go to school and assist them set up businesses for them to earn a decent living. It is said that an idle mind is the devil’s workshop. Once these youths are busy earning a living they will in turn contribute to the development of our communities and everyone will be happy and live in peace. I hope you are aware of my Peace Football Championship for youths of my constituency, which recently held here. This will be a yearly event when I get to the Green Chambers by the grace of God.
As a media professional and someone who is well-travelled, how would your experience aid your performance in the federal parliament?
Legislation is about lobbying and enactment of laws for the betterment of society. In that wise I shall network with likeminded colleagues to attract projects to my constituency and lobby to pass bills that touch the lives of our people. As a media personality I interact with a lot of people who are in positions of authority and I know how to persuade them to see thing from my point of view. Secondly, as someone who has been privileged to travel far and wide I know what is good for my constituency and country. So, it will be the simplest job for me. It is like putting a fish in water.
With the level of desperation by certain politicians, are you not afraid that electoral malpractices like vote-buying would affect your chances in the 2019 elections?
Certainly not. No one can subvert the will of the people. When you attempt to suppress an idea whose time has come you are inviting trouble. In this dispensation, people have become wiser. So, even if you give them money they will take it and still vote the right person for the job. The era of buying people’s conscience with peanuts is over. My chances in the 2019 elections are very bright going by the goodwill I enjoy amongst my constituents.
How do you rate the APC-led federal government; do you think President Buhari has performed creditably well to deserve re-election?
I wish to say that it is important to situate the performance of President Buhari within the circumstances that brought him in the first place. Nigeria was at crossroads in 2015 and needed to be rescued by well meaning Nigerians. Some doomsday prophets even predicted the breakup of our nation. In that respect, President Buhari has changed the narrative. He has stabilized the polity. It is also true that within the context of the challenges of drop in oil revenues, security and corruption confronting the country he has tried his best. The building blocks laid by President Buhari in his first term in office will begin to bear fruits hopefully in his second term. I believe that this is why he needs to return to Aso Rock to complete the good work he has started.
What is your stand on restructuring?
This is a very contentious issue I must tell you. But frankly speaking every individual or country needs to keep improving. I want to believe there is always room for improvement no matter how good a thing is. So, as a country I believe there are some aspects of our life that we need to sit down together and take some hard decisions for the benefit of our corporate existence as a nation.
Since independence there have been attempts at some form of restructuring, like state creation, revenue allocation formula, creation of local governments, etc. So, restructuring is not new to us. In my opinion, it is healthy for us to constantly sit down and review the basis of our union and put in place measures that will strengthen our existence as a nation. Take a look at Britain that recently voted to exit European Union. Therefore I am for restructuring.
How best can the constant legislative/executive impasse be resolved for national development?
In his wisdom, Montesquieu propounded the doctrine of separation of powers to check arbitrariness and concentration of powers in one person. So, the solution to executive/legislative impasse is continuous dialogue and engagement by political actors to always put the people first in everything they do and avoid personality clashes.
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