By Perpetua Egesimba
Princess Oluwafumilayo Eke-Oparaku is the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP) Vice Chairmanship candidate for Ikeja Council in the forthcoming council elections in Lagos. She is also the President of Didi Oparaku Health Foundation, a community communication based NGO, focusing on health information dissemination as it affect women and children with special interest on organic lifestyle. In this interview, she spoke on the need for more women participation in politics, just as she declared that the PDP stands a chance of winning Ikeja council in the forthcoming council poll.
Why the position of Vice chairman and not chairman?
You see, you have to start from somewhere. Yes in 2015, I came out for Lagos State House of Assembly for Ojodu LCDA but the internal primaries did not favor me. But then, in life you don’t have to give up, you keep trying. I was called to take up the Vice chairmanship slot in Ikeja council, that is why I am here and I believe they believe in what I can do.
Ikeja is a cosmopolitan Local Government. How do you plan to realize your ambition giving the fact that your running mate is also a woman?
Yes, this is a female-female ticket. It has never happened before in the history of politics in Nigeria. And nothing ever happens by accident, it is designed for the best. And again, we have combination of tribe to play in here. The candidate is from the Salawuri community, the indigenes of Ikeja and her father happens to be the Chief Imam, she is a Muslim and I am a Christian. It is a wonderful combination.
However, as the President of an NGO, I have been doing interventions at the community level with my own personal fund. I have sourced funds which I would have pocketed but I brought them for community use. If I could do that as an individual not holding a portfolio, then I can do more. I promise Ikeja people that there will be accountability. I have donated dustbins and done health interventions in the community in the past, like free malaria and HIV tests, counseling and empowerment programmes. Do you know new HIV infection is increasing and people are dying as a result of HIV because they cannot access the drugs? The donors have gone. So as a grassroots person who has been involved, I have a stake, I will carry advocacy to the highest level. And do the little I can irrespective of the party a person belongs to, to collaborate to make things work for people to feel good governance.
PDP is an opposition party in Lagos state, do you think your party stands a chance to win Ikeja or any other local government?
Of course, PDP stands 99 percent chance of winning if not 100 percent chance especially in Ikeja because of the wonderful combination that we have. Like I said, our candidate, Alhaja Rukayat Omolara Olowolagba who also happened to be a woman is coming out as a Chairman and I, a non Yoruba speaking is coming out as the running mate. With that wonderful combination knowing how cosmopolitan Ikeja is, we have the two dominant groups in Ikeja. So you see we stand 100 percent chance of winning it.
How prepared is the PDP for the election?
PDP is prepared. We have done our primaries and chosen our candidates. The six Councilors for Ikeja council are all set to run and their posters are scattered all over. We have also started our campaigns. Campaigns within the Ward levels are ongoing.
Recently, the national leader of APC, Bola Ahmed Tinubu said PDP will never win a poll in Lagos. Are you not worried about that comment?
You see, nobody is God. Man proposes and God disposes. The will of God is supreme over any other being. And finally, that was his opinion and he has the right to air it.
The local government is fast gaining notoriety due to the activities of street hawkers and beggars. What plan do you have to tackle the menace?
Loitering on the streets is even an eyesore and not good for our own image and it has a health implication on the people trying to make a living. So it is not even healthy. My take is to accommodate them, give them shelter, even if it means aggregating them in groups for them to have a shade and a roof over their head, where they will display their wares and make them pay a little token. The reason they are reluctant is because of the high cost of the shops being charged by the government in power. But if their rent is subsidized to the barest minimal, people will not want to loiter on the streets where rain and sun will endanger their health condition.