HRM Anthony Efekodha Ejuzi II, the Ovie of Enhwe Kingdom, Delta State and his wife, HRH Betty Efekodha, immediate former Commissioner Women Affairs and Youth Development; are a couple whose perspective is channeled towards the elevation of women’s financial and social status in the society.
Efekodha, the Isoko South Local Government Area, monarch, a former member of the House of Assembly and founding father of Niger Delta Development Commission, was presented the staff of office by the state government, December last year. They spoke with Woman’s Own.
By Dotun Ibiwoye
WHY women’s empowerment?
We will form cooperative societies. You know in a rural community the women are more of the population. At the end of the day I can use my position to help some people fund their Small and Medium Enterprises, SMEs, so that they can be involved in trading and other things. Attention will also be given to the widows because they need all the assistance. Some of them are farmers, they can hardly raise funds to carry out their farming activities.
HRH Betty: As a woman who has already been in the terrain, I know that several women are very poor especially the widows, and we have those who are not widows but are equally poor. So my first priority is to give them interest free loans, while trading, buying and selling including farming. I want to encourage them in all ramifications.
Of course, there will be an NGO and there will be funds. The NGO will be funded, at least by me or public related persons or philanthropists but at least I will keep it constant and it will not be static. I really want to take the women close to God through Christ, that is also a priority; so they will fill the gap of praying mothers and wives for their families and the community.
By the time I hold two or three meetings, I will have an idea of the number of persons that can benefit from such. If it is what I cannot take once, I will merge some money, and take it batch by batch.
Hospitality should begin from home. Maybe as time goes on, depending on the finance, I’ll extend to other women in the state and Nigeria in general. My mind is made up and I am sure God wants me to do it. But what I want to start first is having prayer sessions with them, giving them talks, organising seminars to enlighten them on government projects like immunisation, sound health, how to take care of their children etc.
The monarch’s vision and plans for women and youths
I want an egalitarian society where the rights of all citizens will be protected- a state governed according to the rule of law; where the economy will be revisited, create employment through establishment of sustainable industries for our youth /labour force; where merit is respected and people are allowed to develop according to their full abilities; where there will be security of life and property and where the rights of women will beguaranteed and their equality with men maintained. A state where peace reigns among the various diverse ethnic group of lbos, Ijaws, Isokos, ltsekiris, Ukwuanis and Urhobos as no development can take place where there is no peace.
Between 1999 and 2003 while representing Isoko Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, both at plenary sessions and committee levels Efekhoda worked for the establishment of the NDDC bill. With the cooperation of the Governor of Delta State Chief James Ibori, I worked for the approval of 3.2 billion from the National Assembly for the settlement of arrears of salaries and for the re-activation of the steel plant.
On militancy and bombing of oil pipelines in the Niger Delta
The governor of Delta State is a good friend, a technocrat, a long standing politician. We have been discussing about these issues and ways to solve it since it commenced.
I believe he knows what to do. The oil production are falling so much as a result of bombing of pipelines. I believe in the very near future, the situation would reverse. The issue is being addressed properly by a lot of Nigerian rulers, and I am part of that team.
I happened to have worked in Shell, later Petroleum Engineer, so I know so much about oil production, especially recovery processing, which is increasing but we will do what we can to stop this problem connected to oil production.
Appeal to youths to embrace peace in the Niger Delta
A lot of us are appealing to the youths to lay down their arms. Let us do more of talking, dialogue, than to judge what has been done to us, then war. Militancy is not a good option.
I am also one of the leaders of the old community. They are called the old school in the Niger Delta. So we are using that as an opportunity to appeal to our youths to lay down their arms so that we can negotiate with the Federal Government.
Several multinationals are willing to come, then we will have more funds for development, employment and reconstruction. In the case of Delta State, and so more funds will be made available.
You know right now they have only 13 per cent, that is going to the state. So we are even fighting to increase that 13 per cent. We have finally agreed that we will add to the fund that will be run by the old school to use in taking care of their various communities. We are even thinking now, that the funds should be managed by the oil producing communities which they will be able to manage well. We now have lots of technocrats in the oil producing communities.