By John Bulus
Naomi Lasara Elisha is a woman with great aspirations. She has been working with Governor Mohammad Danjuma Goje of Gombe State, for seven years, rising from Personal Assistant (PA) to Special Assistant (SA) on Media and Publicity.
In this interview with Vanguard, Elisha, a graduate of Mass Communications from the Ahmadu Bello University , (ABU), Zaria spoke on why she wants to represent her Constituency, Katungo East in the State House of Assembly, come 2011. Excerpts:
Your formal entry into politics came to many as a surprise. Can you tell us what informed your decision?
Well, thank you very much. What informed my decision in the first place, is that I have always loved politics. I admire politics and I think I have been into it right from my Primary to Secondary school levels because in all Unions and Organizations wherever I found myself, I participated actively. I think I’m a person that loves to do things with people.
I think politics will offer me that opportunity to continue to be with people, continue to work for them, relate with them. In fact, I love to have people around me all the time and I think the best way I can relate with them is through politics.
The scenario shows you have not been into active civil politics. This is your debut. Some people wonder whether, again, you are drawing your motivation from the Executive Governor of the state whom you have been working with for sometime now. Is he in anyway your political godfather?
I think that is a really a beautiful question. If you work with somebody like the Gombe State governor, whom I have had anopportunity, by the Grace of God, to wok with for sometime now, you would know, there are people that want to turn the country around, that want to do something.
There are some patriotic Nigerians still around, people that have their state, nation or constituency at heart. So, I really admire Goje because he is one person that, sentiment apart, whether I have worked with him or not, people know his works, the things he has done.
They are just there for you to see. I think based on that, Goje is a big motivation for me. If you work with him, and did not pick anything to emulate whether his works or achievements, it shows you have not learnt well. I think the people’s votes count a lot. Whether you have a godfather or not, it is a matter of people’s votes this time around. Yes, the governor by virtue of his position could be influential and helpful, but peoples vote determine my success and I have interacted with them and they have assured me of their 100% support. I rely on them and their votes which I will get by God’s grace.
How close are you to your constituents?
To my constituents, I happen to come from Katungo, one of the LGAs in Gombe State and I think I have been very close to the people for quite sometime now, and thanks for the present administration that has encouraged women including me to be what we are today. But that is not enough. I have been able to reach my people using any available means and tools. In so many ways, I have in my humble ways supported a lot of people.
In fact, it may interest you to know that in the last elections in 2003, my constituency called me to represent them but for some personal reasons, I declined. But now, the call is made again, and I have no reasons to decline the second time. I have the acceptance of my people to represent them at the state House of Assembly, come next year.
The incumbent lawmaker representing the zone in the House just defected to PDP from AC and there are positive indications that he might go for another shot. Ho do you intend to slug it out with him, and perhaps, other aspirants who might come in later?
Well, that’s why it is called politics. That’s why it is a contest and that’s why you need the people, their votes. That‘s why you need to politick very well from the grassroots, know the people and work your way through. I have the acceptance of my constituents. It is a welcome idea that the person presently on the seat has joined the winning party, the PDP, my party.
He has been a loner for the past 3 years and I really admired his courage and I salute him because he was able to win the ticket even when PDP was in power in Katungo. The people elected him because they wanted him. I think for the period, the people have seen and can assess him. The decision to elect any of us lies ultimately with the people who would weigh our contributions to them.
For me, I am counting on my people’s sense of judgment and assessment.
Politics every where involves money. In Nigeria , it is something else. Demands everywhere. Would you say you have got a good financial base to pull through?
Let’s not go there (more laughter) let’s not go into finances. But much as I would want to run away from the question, it is one that must be answered. You can’t just join politics without money. I’m not a rich person. But I’m counting on the understanding of my people who I think, would prefer better, selfless service and representation to any amount of money given them. But with God, all things are possible.
So if you secure the seat, what would you do for the people?
That is the question, the one million dollar question. That is the question that each time I go politicking and people ask me, I have to take a deep breathe because I don’t want to make promises I will not fulfill. I‘m still drawing my manifestoes anyway.
But then, our experiences in the time past have surely brought us to the dire need of bettering the lives of many people when opportunity calls. The challenges might be too numerous. But without going specific here now, you can still be rest assured the, chiefly, as a lawmaker in the State, sponsoring emotions, laws that will directly impact on the people is my priority. Again, all hands must be on deck, by this I mean, that I will join hands with my Reps member, the Senator, Local Council Chairman and the Governor who will emerge then to achieve this.
How do you see the issue of women in politics vis_avis your aspirations?
The issue of women? Well, I must say it even a credit in Gombe. We have two women lawmakers in the House, two Commissioners and SAs and PAs and I happen to be one. There is a bit of fairness in Gombe unlike other places where women are barely appointed.
But wee need more. We are talking about 35% where I don’t even think we have 2%. We need more women. Let them not be afraid. We have the acceptance of the people even the men. On my challenges, first, I think, I have the support of my family as a base.
The men are becoming kinder now than before. Though it hasn’t been that simple, but I think they should give us, the women more chances than we currently have and see us perform.