BY Josephine Igbinovia-Agbonkhese
While many condemn President Goodluck Jonathan’s transformation agenda and ambition to be re-elected in 2015, some Nigerians have imposed on themselves the task of returning Jonathan to Aso Rock. One of such is Afoma Adigwe, the initiator of Goodluck Initiative(Gi) ’07, who has again launched a Gi ’15 campaign ahead of 2015. Adigwe who is also the founder of Uplifting Women Through Farming, UWTF, recently unveiled her plans and spelt out, in an encounter with Feminista, reasons behind her campaign.
You have been in the forefront campaigning for President Goodluck Jonathan to re-contest come 2015; is it that you have left your women in their farms for politicking?
I can never leave my women because I have great passion for them, especially at the grassroots level. I have always had belief in President Goodluck Jonathan.
In 2007, I founded GI’07 because I so much believe in the person of Jonathan and his ability to do things right.
People felt that I went too far then by setting up the initiative in the name of Goodluck but I had and I still have that conviction within me that he is a man who loves, genuinely, Nigeria. I single-handedly bankrolled the campaign without any financial support from anyone or from any group.
I thank specially Muazu Omolori who consulted for us free-of-charge and gave us an office where we operated from then in Abuja. Jasmine Ekpo also helped tremendously then to orgnise the campaign in Cross River and Ondo States. Before the 2007 elections, I came across former governor of Bayelsa State, Chief DSP Alaeimesghea, who spoke eloquently of Jonathan and said Jonathan he was a calm person who will work well with Yar’Adua.
It is unfortunate that President Yar’Adua passed on but thank God we have President Jonathan who himself is a very calm and genuine man. When we started, we contacted late Dora Akunyili, Mrs Herberta Okonofua, the then PDP women leader, and they were impressed with our activities. We have a structure but then I didn’t come out to the public because I wasn’t interested in politics but in the person of Goodluck.
UWTF is still working fine. There is a program we have continued to package since 2008; an agricultural exhibition for rural women. This year’s edition was slated for November but we had to postpone it so we can give President Jonathan all the support he needs at this time. Looking at his activities in the agricultural sector, you cannot but applaud him for his great strides.
We won’t also fail to commend the Minister of Agriculture for identifying with farmers and not neglecting the youths and women. We are still working underground to come up with a Microfinance Bank for UWTF which will commence in 2015 when we will be celebrating our 15th anniversary.
You’ve always done these behind the scene; why come out now?
Everything has its own time. If we were there for him when he started, we should be there for him till he finishes. We gave him the boost to start with and I felt he needs us more now than ever. We believe so much in him.
I am sure people who really know me will tell that my coming out to identify with a politician is borne out of passion because since I came to limelight, I have never for once associated myself with politics. I sponsored and mobilized for Goodluck in 13 states of the federation yet I was not seen but my structure was on ground. This time around, I believe it requires more from us and this we will do well.
Are you carrying your women along in this project?
Don’t forget that it is not about the political party but about sincerity of purpose and the individual. I have come a long way and I can never sacrifice the welfare of my women on the altar of politics. Some of my women are members of different political parties but they all know and believe in the person of Goodluck Jonathan who has done so well for women.
I can never be fully involved in politics because if I am in government, I won’t be able to speak out when they are going wrong. We all cannot be at the helm of affairs but we can be part of government by promoting what is right just as I am promoting President Jonathan’s administration. I have met with a lot of people that would have motivated me to go into politics. late Maryam Babangida was my mentor, my husband Prince Adigwe is one of the stalwart of PDP in Delta State and I have others around me but I am not interested in politics.
If I wanted political appointments, I would have lobbied for it. My women are so happy with Jonathan because he has brought smiles on their faces through his transformation agenda. A lot of women are now into farming because of the benefits in the sector. Most processed foods in shops now are being done by female entrepreneurs and our women are smiling to banks because Goodluck Jonathan is transforming the agricultural sector. Our women are also enjoying loan facilities unlike before when there were lots of bottlenecks for women to access loans. Jonathan has really uplifted women.
We want him to continue so life can be better for women. For example, take a look at the amnesty programme which our youths are enjoying. This programme was initiated by late President Yar’Adua and that is why we intend to give him a post-humous award at our Uplifting Youths Through Active Agro Project event coming up later in the year.