Princes Uzochi Aghasili, an indegene of Awka, Anambara state, is the National Coordinator, PDP Female Youths and Students Development Initiative. In this interview with ENE OSANG, she stresses the need for government to create enabling environment for women to thrive in politics, saying this has discouraged many competent women within and outside the country from political participation
Tell us about yourself?
My name is Princess Uzochi Aghasili, I am a native of Akwa in Anambara state. I lived in the USA from when I was 9months till when I was 6yrs old then then I return to Nigeria and stayed in Imo state. It was in Imo that I began my early primary school education at Ikenebu layout primary school in Owerri the state capital.
Afterwards I moved to Lagos to continue my primary education at the Florida day Nursery and primary school, Surulere.
Upon completing my primary education I studied for one year at the Akunanaw Girls secondary school Enugu, and later proceeded to Federal Government Girls College (FGGC) Bwari where I rounded up.
I am the first born in a family of six children and was loved so much by both parents before my father passed away in 1993. My parents studied in America and all my family members are still living in America.
What is your current educational qualification?
By the grace of God I have gone through so many kinds of education both formal and informal, I started with Chemistry at the Abuja University but later I enrolled into the Federal University of Technology (FUT) Minna and did Polymer sciences. I have studied a little bit of computer science, Business administration, designs and management and I have also tried to equip myself with basic knowledge of anything I do. I don’t wait till I go to university to equip myself, I make use of any opportunity for instance if am asked to occupy a position, I will study that post so as to be well enlightened and that is how I have been able to thrive in all my endeavors.
I have been a general manager for a cleaning agency, I have represented some construction companies and I have never been find wanting in any of my endeavors so dabbling in and out of disciplines have been somehow part of me because of my nature. I am somebody that loves knowledge and I love to key in whenever any opportunities come by.
What would you say are your achievements in life?
So many things but I always like to thank God for anything I achieve in life, I don’t set goals they just happen but I always do my best in whatever situation. The same way I don’t want to talk about regrets is same way I don’t want to talk about my achievements but I have achieved so many things by the grace of God amongst which are the three lovely kids God has blessed me with.
How do you manage work and your home?
I am naturally a people’s person so anywhere I am even inside a cab I could stumble into a crucial matter and get it solved before I alight from the vehicle. I am a good manager and I have like a tailored kind of life so I work with schedule and I have trained my children in the way that too. Even when I am away from home my children now know what and when to do a particular thing as I do put them through daily. I manage this like a routine until when the children are on holidays and I even took this routine as far as the cable sites. For example during school periods I don’t allow the children to watch DSTV, but during holidays they can watch that, though we have Star Times to back that up. So I am that tailored and that has been helping me.
Do you have any regrets?
I am very optimistic about life and I don’t let people bring me down even when someone makes me angry I just behave like that person doesn’t exist so I won’t carry it as a burden. I don’t keep accounts of regrets because I am a very happy person who believes in positivity.
Where do you see yourself in the nearest future?
By the grace of God I am purely into entrepreneurship and I still see myself doing that big time in the nearest future.
Tells us about your NG0.
In the PDP Female Youth and Students Development Initiative (FEYSDI) we crop young females and groom them into becoming efficient and active women. We ‘catch them young’ and mentor them into adult female.
How many girls have you groomed so far?
The NGO is positioned nationwide and our major outreach was through the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) which was our initial ground before we started spreading our tentacles to our friends and other individual supporters so it wasn’t really a Christian thing but that was our major ground. Our organization is everywhere and as you can envisage CAN so you can envisage us.
How do you empower these young girls?
We try to reach the less privileged amongst us and we try to facilitate to safe cost, so if there is any vocational skill any of us have we volunteer our services to any of the girls who want to acquire such skills and they too volunteer their own services and that is how we have been tackling some problems by achieving much with less cost. We don’t gather ourselves in any hotel to pay bills we just do our training amongst ourselves.
So what is your partnership with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)?
I am a member of the PDP and like I rightly told you, wherever our members are we display our skills amongst ourselves so, as a bonafide member of PDP and Coordinator of an NG0 I have to make an impact wherever I found myself apart from the PDP. It is what they had seen me do that encouraged them to carry me along in whatever they do and hopefully I am going to do more if am given a larger assignment. For now, we are taking it bit by bit that is why we have decided to take it from our neighbors, our neighbor’s friends and so on.
How has your NGO affected lives of females generally?
Girls are being transformed into women, we train them, we imbibe and inculcate morals as well as their basic needs before she mature into a woman. For example we pick a girl child from the village who is not educated we bring them up and make them understand that somebody has also passed through the same challenges in life before getting to the top now. President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and the First Lady Dame Patience Jonathan have been good mentors and, mentorship has helped us to shape our young girls to spurn them into action to do the right thing at all times and grab opportunities when they see positively and to key in when there are opportunities. For example we try to sensitize them on issues of politics by telling them how to participate to enable them come to limelight and we do this in the simplest way we can.
How would you describe women’s political participation?
Women political participation has been there for a very long time but on a low key. From the time of mummy Ransom Kuti to Queen Amina and their likes, women political participation has been on ground but they have not been showcased and exaggerated like the men but we have been there from time immemorial but now we don’t want to remain on that level. Women want to be heard and also contribute their quota to National Development because there are a lot of brilliant and capable women today. There is a portion in the Bible which likened Christians to a blossom burner you don’t put under but it comes out to shine so that the light effect will be felt. All the women that have been doing things underground we want to showcase them and when we know our numbers we will be more motivated to come out.
People say most women in politics are loose. Is that correct?
I don’t agree with that notion, by the grace of God every Pastor’s wife is somehow involved in politics so if anybody say women in politics are wayward it won’t be fair on women. For the fact that you can disseminate information appropriately, women politicians are facilitators, motivators, everything good but wayward in my own terms.
Do you think women stand better chances in the upcoming elections?
Women can make themselves have the opportunities they need once there are viable women who are equal to the task, and can stand and represent a large number of women they would solidly be backed and voted in.
Do you think the call for 50/50 gender equity is achievable considering women are yet to achieve 35% affirmative action?
I am of the opinion that when you create opportunities women will key in. If there is an enabling environment women can even achieve more than men because there are capable women everywhere both home and abroad who feels they can’t waste their time in our country’s politics because they have other engagements. The Goodluck Jonathan administration has proven that women can deliver on their jobs when given the opportunity and I am proud of Nigeria women.
What advice do you have for women?
Parents should be interested in the girl child’s education. Women seeing themselves and knowing the pains they went through before they got to where they are should know the best way to cushion a girl child. As a woman we know what we felt before coming of age so we know the contribution we want to make for the girl child not to pass through so many hitches in life. It could be politically, reforms, or any little way you can help a girl child any average woman should know how to cushion things for the girl child and the children in general. If the children are well trained you rid the society of miscreants this could be through religious outfits either as a Muslim or Christian, just groom the children in the right path.