Mrs. Kaneng Gyanfulani is a former House of Assembly member representing Barkin Ladi constituency in the Plateau state House of Assembly, and the National Coordinator, Gyanfulani Foundation. In this chat with ENE OSANG, she said if the country must attain the desired change, more women must be involved in governance.
How was it working as a house of assembly member?
Working as a house of assembly member is challenging especially being a woman and considering the patriarchal nature of our society. I believe challenges even makes one stronger in whatever one does so whatever the challenges we cannot run away but find a way to address it. Women face many challenges while occupying a political office or being in active politics but we can’t run away because challenges make one stronger on the job. Life must go on no matter what; rather we pray that God help us overcome challenges.
I must commend my Governor, Jonah Jang for giving women the opportunity to contribute their quota in his administration, women are capable and we deliver whenever we are given an opportunity to serve.
Are you saying the plateau government is not fair to women?
What I am saying is that we have a number of women heading positions in plateau state and that is fair enough. I know more women will emerge as heads of government positions if thete is a level playing groubd. Elections are coming up and women are working hard towards that.
When did you join politics to have risen to the position of house is assembly member?
I came in as an elected member through bye-election after the demise of my husband in 2012.
How did you impact the lives of members of your constituency?
I worked hard to complete the projects my husband left behind because I was elected to replace him. The projects he was carrying out for his community like building of schools, hospitals, bridges, water which he could not complete I did my best to complete them. Also, before the end of my tenure I did support lots of youths and women especially in the rural villages. Women especially widows are really suffering, I am a widow and I know the plight of women most especially widows because they no longer have husbands to provide for them.
I rounded up my tenure in May 2015; my constituency desired for me to come back as their representative because of what I achieved in the short period while in office, but after the meeting with stakeholders of my constituency and with zoning arrangement which is taken seriously, it was turn for another zone to take over from me and I agreed to their arrangement.
Do you have any plans of aspiring for political office again?
I am already into politics and there is no point stopping. For now, made it my responsibility to start mentoring young ones, encourage those now in offices from experience I have garnered, I will play very important role to move those in the office forward.
How would you describe Nigerian women in Politics?
Nigerian women in politics is very important as they play their roles as women, the Nigerian woman is being exposed to politics because she wants to contribute her own quota to the society.
The terrain is tough but we are encouraged to showcase our talents and give another women courage to do so as well. If women are given opportunity, Nigerians will enjoy the change they all crave for.
Why do you think women can bring the desired change?
I say this because women in positions have represented well enough. We have women Ministers who have proven their capabilities in office, we have women commissioners, Special Advisers and other professionals in various fields that are doing well and if given more opportunities women will do more.
How were you able to cope occupying your late husband’s office and homefront?
Luckily, I have grown up children and while in office my last child was already in his final year in the University. They are matured now and can cater for themselves and that is why I have enough time to see to the needs of my people. But generally everything depends on how you plan and organise yourself, if my children were younger I would still make sure I organise myself in a way that I can still work and take care of the home even though not easy, women are blessed with the gift of multitasking.
Do you have any regrets in life?
I don’t have regrets rather I thank God for bringing me this far in life. I lost my husband but I thank God for his grace have been sufficient unto me.
What would you say have you achieved in life?
Bringing up my children and loving my husband when he was alive is wonderful. My children are all grown today in the fear of God and I sure have a great family.
What are your hobbies?
I like singing, listening to music, planning and mobilising.
Where do you vision yourself in the nearest future?
I look forward to the will of God in my life, also I expect the Gyanfulani Foundation which I established after the death of my husband to achieve the aim I set it up for.
Tell us about the Foundation?
My husband had passion for catering for people’s needs and while he was alive he ensured this and people saw him as a philanthropist. I didn’t want this passion to die so I decided to set up the foundation in his name and continue the good works he did.
I know how it feels losing a dear one and so I give back to the society especially widows who are left with the burden of raising their children.
How many people have you empowered so far?
I don’t have the statistics but widows and orphans are those the foundation cares for basically. The fatherless youths who cannot afford school fees but want to continue their education we assist them back to school; those who want to go for skills acquisition we help them enrol in one, and so many other cases. After my tenure is over, I will still be in active politics and then commit myself to running the Foundation.
2019 is fast approaching, do you think women are prepared for the elections?
Women are well prepared and ready for the upcoming elections but it all depends on the result of elections. From what I see around, women now understand why it is important to play active politics unlike before when they shy away from it. We wear the shoe so we know where it pinches except women are in positions; we cannot present issues concerning women. Though difficult with perseverance we are moving forward gradually. The most important thing is that women are willing to work and contribute their own quota to national development because the country is for all of us.
What would be your advice for women?
Women should strive on; especially the widows they should not result to begging or make people think they are helpless rather should work hard and trust in God for their needs to be met. I also urge women to ensure they participate in the election process by voting the right candidate in. we cannot sit at home and complain that things are not working well, the first step to a better Nigeria is voting the right person in.