Mrs. Mabel Oboh, an actress, is the deputy governorship candidate of the African Democratic Congress (ADC) for the September 19 gubernatorial election in Edo State. The former broadcaster shares her thoughts about politics in Nigeria with ONYEKACHI EZE. Excerpts:
Congratulations on your choice as the running mate to the governorship candidate of your party, African Democratic Congress (ADC) for the forthcoming election in Edo State. What is ADC’s chances in the poll?
ADC has a very good chance to win the election because we are the new alternative. The party’s mission is to change Edo State and serve the people. The people of Edo State are truly waiting for change and we are prepared to give them that change.
Given your background, as a Bollywood actress and a news caster, it appears you are new in politics. Do you think you can fit into your new found profession?
What really is politics? It is a way of life. Apart from being in the entertainment industry, I have a world of experience in other corporate settings. I have worked officially for the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA), United Nations and British Embassy, among others. I am well-travelled; I am a United Kingdom trained criminologist and a business woman. We must understand the main purpose of being politicians is to serve the people, not the other way round.
It is very clear that a lot of people get involved in politics just to steal, but for me, it is another job. I am in it to sell my party’s mandate to the people; to change the present situation in Nigeria; to be fair and honest. Is politics more difficult than child bearing, raising kids until they get matured to lead? So, I don’t see anything in getting into politics. I know that I will serve the people well.
Some Edo youths and women had earlier purchased the ADC nomination form for Governor Obaseki before he decided to pitch his tent with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Do you think ADC still enjoys their support despite the decision of the governor not to run on ADC platform?
Edo youths and women are 100 per cent behind ADC. They bought the form for Obaseki because they trust our party, a transformative party. Now that Obaseki has gone to PDP, they also publicly announced their withdrawal of support for him.
Women participation in politics in Nigeria is still a big challenge, how do you intend to ensure that more women show interest in elective positions if you become the deputy governor of Edo State?
Women need to change their orientation. They should believe in themselves. I will reeducate women. Noting much is into being relevant but hard work. ADC is a platform that believes in equality, for even the disabled. I am the first woman governorship deputy candidate in Edo State. If I can do it, any hard working woman can do it as well. So, it’s all about building confidence and being good in whatever we do.
The relationship between most state governors and their deputies in Nigeria is not so cordial. Since 1999, a number of deputy governors have been removed from office and within this period, only about three of them have succeeded their principals though the experience is not an enviable one. What do you think is responsible for this?
If incompetent people get into power, there will always be problems. If politicians know that their duty is to serve the people, they will do just that and not fight over personal issues.
If ADC wins the Edo State governorship election and you emerge as deputy governor, how do you intend to relate with your governor to ensure a cordial working relationship with him?
I will concentrate on my portfolio and do my job, which is to serve the people.
As an actress, you have played in the big league of the entertainment industry. How would ADC develop entertainment industry in Edo State if it forms the next government?
Entertainment is my passion. Entertainers, journalist and others are so underrated, not well paid; ignored. It is just terrible, yet entertainers make people happy. I am already a blessing to the entertainment industry. I run a nongovernmental organisation, Mabeloboh Centre For Save Our Stars, we are small but we have helped save lives such as Yellow Banton, an Ajegunle musician who had skin cancer. We also joined in raising funds for Sadiq Baba. Imagine if I get a platform that can do a lot for entertainers; the sky will be the limit. Entertainers in Nigeria need to be recognized and that I will make sure of.
Nollywood is rated third in the world, how would you rate the quality of Nigerian movies?
Nollywood is doing very well. I know how it was when it started in the 80s. With more support they will do extremely well. That support, my party will be ready to give.
Is there any room for improvement and in which area?
Of course, life is about improvement. If Nollywood has the funds and we train more hands professionally, the sky will be the limit.
Rape cases seem to be on the increase in Nigeria. What do you think is responsible for that?
People are frustrated, no self-esteem, our moral values are all gone. Once we create jobs, make people value themselves and encourage parents to take responsibility for their children’s wellbeing, we will start to see improvement in people’s behaviour.
What punishment would you recommend for offenders?
It really depends;every case should be properly be investigated and appropriate punishment given. However, whatever the punishment, the offenders should also be rehabilitated. I am a trained criminologist. For anyone to rape a person, that person would surely be abnormal in one way or the other. So, they too would need help.
Related to rape is the issue of human trafficking, especially the girl child. Your state, Edo, has witnessed a lot of this. What measure or measures would you suggest to curb it?
I will suggest reeducation of the people because it is amazing what poverty can cause. Once we take care of all the basic things and the people realise that there are other ways to earn a living, human traficking in Edo State will stop. We also need to reeducate parents and let them know their duties as parents. But remember that you can only get through to a person that is not hungry. So, the government needs to put a lot of things in place. As a woman and a mother, it pains me to see what is happening in Edo State, but I promise that our administration will change all these.
ADC has no member in the Edo House of Assembly and you know what this entails if the party wins the governorship. How would you advise your governor to handle the situation?
It will be a gradual process. We would need to work hard. Truly, if public servants know that they are in power to serve the people, the political parties will have to work together for the betterment of the masses.