Earnest E. Bello is the first woman to vie for the position of Councillor in Quarters Ward, Gwagwalada Area Council, on the platform of Peoples Redemption Party (PRP). In this interview with ENE OSHABA, she shares her passion for community development and aspiration to change the Quarters Ward for the better.
What is your background and what motivated you to join politics?
I am a trained teacher, I obtained a Bachelors Degree in Education in Mathematics and Statistics and added an 18-month hands-on skills training in beauty, makeup and hairstyling.
I currently run an enterprise, the Sparkln Beauty. My passion is geared towards making people look good and feel good with themselves and as a trained teacher I build and mould lives to help them enjoy a fulfilling future. It is this same passion I look forward to bringing into politics.
How was growing up for you?
I am from an average middle-class but humble background. My father was business oriented and owned his own enterprise which handled properties and constructions. My mom was a trader in general goods and foodstuffs.
My family is an all-female one and my Father brought us up to be strong and stand our ground in a predominantly male dominated society.
In Low-cost Quarters where we lived in Jos, I saw the sufferings and many difficulties families and most especially women had to negotiate to find a decent space for their lots.
Playing the role of standing for the dominated, the sidelined and seemingly marginalised people in the society thus came natural for me as I grew up with my dad knocking it into my subconscious mind that complaints and pitying don’t solve issues but rather stepping forward and proffering solutions to the dilemmas we face is the best approach to improvement.
It was from this type of background I was groomed to feel the pains of the common man and share in the struggle to better their lots.
What inspired you into active politics?
My experience in quarters ward has shown to me a replication of similar sufferings among the critical masses of the ward. Since the policies and power game that can influence such changes are predominantly political, my mind was made up from onset to play an active role in politics at any point and place I find myself so I can join heads with like minds to speak for and create opportunity for them. I have great passion to see things work better in my community and the nation.
I have always loved to contribute to any good thing capable of developing the people and the society at large and seeing the immediate needs of people in Quarters Ward where I reside gives me great concern. So, I thought to myself, no woman has ever run for this position yet women have great leadership and managerial skills which I’m naturally blessed with.
It would be a new era for my ward when I eventually emerge the Councillor. I want to rescue people in my ward from the development needs they yearn for and that is the great inspiration for me.
What are your chances of winning the position?
I am confident that I will win and I also strongly believe the fact that when it is God’s time no obstacle stands taller than the dream and assurance of expectation fulfilled.
My party is a progressive train and we are well postured in the terrain of the suffering and marginalised so I have no doubt we will pull the hearts and minds of the critical masses whose votes will pilot my aspirations to victory.
Why did you choose to run under People’s Redemption Party (PRP)?
The PRP was founded on the philosophy of service to the talakawas that is the poor masses. The PRP has the core base of raising servant leadership accountable to the critical masses and brought to their doorstep in terms of ownership.
One major focus of my party is creating a majority voice for women whose maternal instinct is soft for the suffering masses.
The PRP manifesto prioritises common sense values and solutions that address citizens concerns over lofty unattainable promises.
The PRP is nascent in Gwagwalada but not naive to the fact that the critical masses in this area are tired of recycling of failed promises. Their gender friendliness has also made me feel like it is my family and this is where I belong to.
I saw a party where the voiceless were the pilots and everyone has equal opportunity. The kind of support and energy that every member of the party is putting into my candidature without any pecuniary inducement is indeed overwhelming.
In PRP, ideas rule to create wealth for the benefit of the people and I feel blessed to have such a platform where am a significant servant rather than being lost in the crowd of big parties.
So, what are you bringing to the table?
The major concern I would want to channel my energy and focus towards when I get elected includes but not limited to women’s health.
In the area women’s health lack of awareness, information, and access to quality healthcare, has become a major contributor to maternal and infant mortality.
I want to create women group in wards and areas and organise them to leverage available quality health information and access to quality healthcare without hassles. Many women are not aware of the opportunities opened up by available health insurance schemes for access to quality healthcare.
Organising women in manageable groups connected to willing and like-minded healthcare professionals will create quick access to useful health information and care that can improve the lot of women and their family in terms of maternal and child health outcomes.
I will also focus on water because in spite of the existence Water Board Services in Gwagwalada the frequent news of cholera outbreak and rampant typhoid fever in my community is a testimony to the fact that clean water is still far from the critical masses.
I want to ensure that pipe borne clean water is available and accessible for most, if not all families, by working through the council to allocate funds on this drive as a priority.
Another area of great concern is electricity because power is crucial for wealth creation especially for the small and medium scale businesses which are the majority in my community.
My plan is to create a networking group through which these businesses can come together to have a cooperative superintendent over by their own trusted nominees and local government officials with the intention of using the platform to fund the purchase of self-sufficient solar units to augment their power challenges from the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) and thus improve their business profitability. Gwagwalada is the home of abundant sunshine.
Also, education because there is a shortage of public private partnership in the area of education and this has led to higher out-of-pocket expenses on education thus marginalising some families who cannot afford the cost of quality education for their wards.
My plan is to work through the local government authority and legislating the creation of such private-public partnership through which what I termed ‘micro-scholarship’ schemes can exist to support and supplement educational cost for the less privilege amongst us.
Lastly but not the least, I intend to use my position as a Councillor, if elected, to galvanise women and youths together for a more impactful and formidable political voice in our ward’s political space as a starter.
This way their matters and concerns can get to receive adequate and prominent attention and right solutions.
Are there any challenges you are facing especially being a woman contesting political position?
Great success always faces challenges but one major challenge a woman will face in politics is in the finical aspect because politics has been highly monitised.
I would like to express my gratitude to all for the support so far, the people of my ward want me and they asked me to contest this position, I am committed to bringing them the desired change because they believe I can.
How then will you surmount financial challenge you mentioned?
My greatest strategy is to sensitise people from the grassroots. I intend to make them have the understanding of politics first before any other thing can follow. When the people are grounded with this information, they will have reasons to vote a capacity Councillor that will better their lives through developmental projects.
How will you assess politics in Nigeria and do you think it’s women-friendly?
Politics in Nigeria is becoming interesting and better than what it was in the past because Nigerians are wiser and know better now.
I strongly advise Nigerians to vote the right persons into positions who will do the work they are placed there to do whole heartily and the country will be better for all.
Finally, I want to say that as a woman politician in contest for a position where many money-fat contestants are also interested, I may not have the cash to throw around, but I have the solutions, the heart, the time and the temerity to meet the yearnings and aspirations of the critical masses of my community, the Quarters Ward. This is my motivation.