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My Governorship Plans Are For Real — Helen Esuene

Senator Helen Esuene, PDP, Akwa Ibom South, is the widow of Col. Jacob Esuene, administrator of the former South Eastern State. She was at one time minister of state for Health, then minister of Environment, and currently the Chairman Senate Committee on Women Affairs and Youth Development. Mrs Esuene in this interview with Chioma Onuegbu of Vanguard lays down her plans for the governorship of Akwa Ibom in 2015, saying she is not returning to the Senate after her one and only term. Excerpts:

My Governorship Plans Are For Real — Helen Esuene
Helen Esuene

You have been listed as the only female aspirant in the 2015 governorship race in Akwa Ibom. What exactly are your plans for the state?

Yes, I am aspiring to become the next governor of Akwa Ibom State and for me this is not an event. It is a consciously planned project. I have gathered a lot of experience over the years in various segments of the society as a public servant, as an entrepreneur, in communal affairs, better life and so forth and also now in the legislature. So, I have gathered a lot of experience which I know this state will stand to benefit from.
As a governor of Akwa Ibom State I want to take democracy to another level.

This is a season to try new people in governance, to try the female folk in governance. It is very instructive to note that out of the 4 countries that qualified for the Semifinals of the World Cup, that 3 out the four Countries are headed by women. They are Germany, Argentina and Brazil. This speaks volumes and like I said there are times and seasons. We have tested the men. The men have been there and they have done a fantastic job, but it is time to try the women and I want to say that this is the season to put more women on the job of governance.

How will the National Assembly treat the report from the National Conference?

The answer is yes and no. At the end of the national conference I believe that the Presidency will articulate all the recommendations or resolutions into bills and send to the National Assembly. When it comes to the National Assembly it will go through the normal processes of bills.

The incumbent governor of this state has declared that he will produce his successor are you one of them in that group?

The governorship has been zoned to Eket Senatorial district and I come from Eket Senatorial district. The government of Akwa Ibom state is under the platform of the PDP so I qualify, however, you look at it. Whether he has told you or he has not told you or whoever he has told but I am in the line, I am very much in the line, yes, and I know that by the grace of God that I will make it.

What is your reaction to the stalemate at the National Conference over the issue of derivation?
You know when it comes to money matters there is no formula that will satisfy everybody. If you satisfy some people there will always be people who will be frowning. So there cannot be any formula but by the time they really get down to their recommendations and whatever they have accepted, like I said it will still come to the National Assembly, so whatever is happening now is not the end of it.

Were you called upon by Eket people to contest or is it your personal conviction that you can become the first female governor of Akwa Ibom state?
In going for an election it is a personal decision no matter who comes to you to say come and run. It is your personal decision because you are going to face the challenges on the road, so I would say people came to me to say run, but I personally decided to run.

If you happen to become the next governor what would you do as regards industrialising the state?

When I become governor by the grace of God industrialization, job creation will be on the front burner and I will also go a step further to make sure that the system works, the entire network. When I say the system I mean from governance down to the grassroots including the village head, the traditional rulers, the elders, the youths and the women.

What have been your achievements as Chairman of the Committee on Women Affairs and Youth Development?

I have in the past three years drawn a lot of attention to female issues, issues of rape, issues of violence; issues of 35 percent Affirmative Action and so on and so forth. My Committee I can tell you is the most active Committee in the National Assembly because there is hardly any week there is no activity on women, or youths, or children.

How do you react to suggestions that your governorship pursuit is only a platform for you to negotiate a second term in the Senate?

This is very, very far from the truth. When I was campaigning for the position of Senate I specifically told my Oron brothers and sisters that I will do one term because the unwritten agreement in my senatorial district is every federal constituency that is in the Senate will do it for two terms and then it will move to another Federal Constituency. Senator Udo Udoma from Ikot Abasi Federal Constituency did two terms, and my sister Senator Eme Ufot Ekaette did one term and both of us are from Eket Federal Constituency and I told my people that I will only do one term so that it will move to Oron Federal Constituency. Whether I make the governorship race or not, I am not going back to the Senate because I believe that we should start to exhibit integrity in politics. I do not want something that will stand against my children in future that, ‘your mother said like this but she did not keep to her words.

So it has absolutely nothing to do with going back to the senate. I am running this race and I am running it because I want to run it, and that is it.

Source: Vanguard

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