Gone are the days men take the forefront of hardcore jobs like engineering, politics, firefighting, military, plumbing, mechanic, e.t.c. Nowadays, women are seen taking the centre stage of such jobs and nature of men’s struggle. Elizabeth Rowland writes
T hey are indeed at the forefront rubbing shoulders with their male counterparts in the field of survival proving the old maxim that says, “what a man can do, a woman can do better.” World over, today’s women can no longer be referred to as weaker vessels or deem fit for the kitchen alone, labour room and the “other room” as the saying goes.
With all the hustling and bustling nature of Lagos where only the fittest survive, hundreds of women have joined the men on the struggle field to become commercial drivers and conductors.
Proving their strut in these fields, especially as tricycle, BRT conductors and drivers, they skillfully rap different names of the routes they are taking like one who has hot yam in her mouth. They also displayed with much swagger beckoning on passengers to board bus/tricycle.
In addition, with husky voices (for those who perhaps take marijuana and local gin) they call on names of different bus stops for passengers. They dress, and act like men refusing to be intimidated by anyone especially their male counter parts on same field. Interesting, they wear rough hairs- short dreadlocks, three quarter baggy jeans, in most cases, rugged and crazy jeans with rubber sandals or sneakers to match.
They put on long weird chains on their necks and funny looking rings on their fingers. Just as the male conductors and drivers behave, the women also put headband on their foreheads, dirty looking small towels on their shoulders and cross-shoulder bag resting on their chests. With this type of dressing, they bounce pompously going up and down inside the bus demanding for the bus fee or standing at the entrance of the bus beckoning on passengers or opening the door for passengers.
Indeed, it takes only the livered to stand them or look at them in the face. Judging from their way of swagger, they have shown that they cannot be intimidated.
One of such women is Tawa Sulaimon, 62, but commonly called Cinderella among her peers, has been a tricycle driver for 10 years going.
She is the women leader of tricycle drivers in Ikorodu and a grandmother-of-two. Cinderella passionately told New Telegraph that she has always been a fan of men’s job. “From the beginning, I have always loved to do a man’s job.
Unfortunately, God created me as a woman, I love being a tomboy. I do things like a man because my dad was a soldier. So, if we do wrong in the house, he gives us tough punishment instead of flogging us. All these made me strong.
I am not a kind of person who depends on people for survival like begging any of my uncles and aunts for money. Therefore, I decided that if I can do this business I would not be asking anyone for anything, thereby constituting nuisance to anyone around me.
I have been driving this tricycle for 10years now. I have been doing business right from my secondary school just to be independent. No member of my family raised an eyebrow about my driving this tricycle, every.
They are aware of my interest in men’s job. So it wasn’t strange to them. However it wasn’t easy at first because I fell ill and lost weight barely two weeks I started but I was determined not to give up. I have received so many insults and harassment from male counterparts in the course of this business but it did not deter me still.
Even as I am in the midst of men, I try to organize things for everyone to make things easier and avoid cheating but some persons felt I was trying to control them because I am older than most of them and make derogatory statements about me.
They will always tell me this is not what my mates are doing and that I do not belong here. There was a time the chairman of the motor park, Igbogbo, area of Ikorodu slapped me. But I am not moved by their words and actions. Although, not every one of my male counterparts listens to me whenever I try to arrange them inside the garage, I still press on because I know I am doing the right thing.
I know what I’m passing through and I know I have to remain focused to achieve my aim- that is to eke a living and for me to be able to complete my building, also build a shop for myself after which I will leave the tricycle business.
“When I lost my husband, I decided to look for another job with BRT as a driver but because my driver’s license was not out by then, I wasn’t given the job. I had no other choice but to return to driving tricycle. I had to go collect another tricycle on hire purchase. I am very happy and contented with my job. Even when I am sad, immediately I start my tricycle I tend to forget all my worries,” she said.
Going by Cinderella’s gesture, New Telegraph observed that she is a franked and determined woman who refuses to be deterred by any forms of discouragement life throws at her. Being a single mother since the death of her husband seven years ago, she has not really known peace she so much crave. According to her story, she has not really known laughter and peace of mind.
Rather, all she knows and feels are pains, rejection and hardship. She said she singlehandedly trained her only daughter to a stage where she ought to stand on her toes. Unfortunately, the girl could not find her footings as her mother (Cinderella) still support her and her children.
Another female tricycle driver who identified herself as Asabi Ade also told her story. “I decided to go into this business because of my children. They have to feed and go to school. When I first started this job, my husband was not in support at all. He said it is a man’s job and it’s tedious for a woman. But I pleaded with him for a long time and tried to make him understand that I needed to do something just to support him to cater for the family since his salary is not enough to feed the family. I can’t Carter for my three children with little or delayed salary that I might get as salary if I were working somewhere else. But driving tricycle will give me more money because it is daily and lucrative. I sent people to plead on my behalf and finally, my husband accepted.
“I am proud riding the tricycle for a living. Some persons are in different hotels prostituting but by the grace of God, my case is not like that. I am proud of my job and it is lucrative but the number of trips one would go in a day is determined by the availability of the passengers. However, it has so many challenges especially from the passengers. Passengers talk to you anyhow as though you do not exist but for the money you need to get from them, one has to endure.
A look at Iyabode Ogunbona, 32, a female Lag Bus conductor turned ticket-issuing officer and leader of all female ticket- issuing officers in Ikorodu. One would easily pass her for a man for the way she is dressed and her carefree attitude. Ever ready to unleash the wrath of a conductor on anyone who take her for granted.
However, that attribute is actually, what earned her respect and fear amongst her colleagues. “I just joined the business to try it out because I have to get myself busy with something. Initially, my husband was very angry and he said he would rather open a shop for me where I can be selling things. I started selling things as he wanted but KAI officials were always disturbing. So many times, they would cease my goods and I would not be able to recover them back. I end up incurring great loses.
This was why I finally ventured into the conductor business. I have to wake up by 3 a.m just to meet up with the official timing. Apart from the disturbance from police officers who collect money from us and stubborn passengers who sometimes refuse to pay agreed amount for the fare, the job is really good and better than any indecent job. By next year, I would go into driving one of the LAG buses”. Iyabode told the New Telegraph.
These women in their respective speeches pitched their reason for joining the men’s world on supporting their husbands in catering for the family. They would rather engage themselves in such business than sit at home waiting to feed from what is left from their husbands’ income.
A male tricycle driver who pleaded anonymity said he is happy that women are in the business. However, he cannot allow his wife to join the business because it is a stressful job. Although they do not face as much difficulties as us, the men get stopped by police officers for parking wrongly. “It takes only a disciplined woman to do the job of a man without going astray,” he added.
Moving over to Oshodi, a suburb of Lagos State, New Telegraph met Esther Omowunmi who has been working with LAGBUS as a conductor for nine years. “Lack of Job pushed my husband and I into this business.
We joined LAGBUS as conductors in 2008. I won’t lie to you, it’s a very tedious routine but we have no choice. Typically, we wake up around 3-4 a.m and come back home very late at night leaving our children under nobody’s care because they are within the age bracket of 7 and 5. At a point, my husband had to stop in order to take care of the children. He later found another job as a printer while I continued as a conductor. When we first started in 2008, the payment was manageable. We were being paid N25,000 but now we get less than that.
The highest we get as a take home salary at the end of the month now is N10,000. I do not blame the management for the drastic reduction of salary because if there were enough buses, they would have maintained our initial salary or even increased it.
However, I am hopeful that by next year January, everything would be fine again because more buses are still coming. We face many challenges in the business, I cannot tell it all. Often times, after collecting money from passengers, it gets missing, consequently, we had to pay it back from our salaries. Nevertheless, we have to endure it because there is no easy job out there.
Falilat Oriola, another female conductor blamed her condition on the country’s situation. According to her, the situation in Nigeria made her join the business. “I have been in this business for two years going. Although, we are not paid enough salary, we can still manage it.
They pay us N1,300 per day. At least the little we get is better than staying at home and doing nothing. The stress involved in the business is too much that if there were a better job, I would have left the conductor job for it. It is no one’s wish to be doing this kind of business but since I cannot help the situation, I just have to endure.
With the way Morenike Aina issued orders to the men working with her, it was evident that she is in the business to take charge and cannot be restricted by her gender.
According to Morenike, in as much as it is a man’s job, women can also do it. She has been in the job for three years and still counting. “All the job requires is a smart, swift and strong person and that is my person.
I act like a man because the nature of my job requires iron hand. My husband and family were in support when I indicated my interest in the job. The only challenge is the way passengers talk to us as though we are not humans.
However, such passengers have me to contend with because I do not and not ready to take any nonsense from anybody. The money we are paid is nothing when compared to the stress we go through but we pray that God bless the little we are get,” she said.
“There is no easy job anywhere so women should not be choosy when it comes to making money. So long as it is decent and does not involve stealing, there is no reason why a woman should not do a particular job to support her husband. You do not always have to wait for your husband to provide everything you need. Being in this business for three years, I have been able to get a bus and lease it out and I hope to achieve more good things in less than no time.”
For Suliat Adetona, she joined the business because of money, also to prevent herself from stealing and prostituting. She said, “my husband was not in support at first but after much pleading he agreed. It was not easy for me when I started newly.
I suffered body aches and so much stress however, I am used to it now. In less than a year into this job, I have been able to rent a shop for my hair dressing salon and able to set it up to my desired standard. Honestly, I do not intend to keep this job as a permanent job.”
Adegboyega Ibrahim, a LAGBUS driver plying Oshodi and Ikorodu routes said, “although nobody is perfect, the ladies on this job are carrying out their duties to their very best and I commend them for that. I can allow my sister to do this job because I do not see anything wrong in it. After all, it is not a permanent job. The only thing is that the society has labeled every commercial driver and conductor as irresponsible persons, which is very wrong.
These individuals are only struggling to survive and to be meaningful in the society. They choose to do the job rather than stealing or constituting nuisance. So it will be fair enough if the society starts seeing them as responsible citizens.”
February 14: Widows’ day out
With smiles on their faces and shoulders held high, widows in their hundreds celebrated their Valentine party in grand style on Wednesday. The ‘Head High International Organization’, a Non Governmental Organisation for widows, gathered widows together at the VGINIS hall in Yaba axis of Lagos, as part of its visions to give succor to widows on a day famously celebrated as lover’s day all over the world.
These women have no husbands or supporters anymore. They are left to cater for children single-handedly in a society where forces against single-women are on the increase. Head-High foundation did not, however, leave these women to bow their heads in shame or feel irrelevant, rather, they gave hope to those who felt they were hopeless and had their heads high again.
Highly respected female personalities were present at the event. Personalities such as Her Excellency, Dame Abimbola Fashola, wife of the Minister of Power, Works and Housing; Honourable Commissioner for Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Dr. Mrs. Lola Akande represented by Jumoke Odusanmi; Mrs. Laide Latinwa representing the Honourable commissioner of youth and sports.
Showers of love flooded the arena as warm hugs, handshakes of hopes were exchanged among the widows and the trustees of the organization. There were also souvenirs distributed to the widows in the spirit of the season.
While rendering her welcome address, the executive director of Head High International Organization, Pastor (Mrs.) Tinu Odugbemi established the purpose of the gathering. According to her, the Valentine love feast is a way to reach out to those who might be missing their loved ones during Valentine and may be feeling lonely and neglected; setting up a platform for widows to mix with peers, relax, network, be encouraged and enlightened also reconstructing love both in pattern and expression at Valentine season.
She added that at the 16th year of the organization, it has really attracted widows whose loves had been impacted in one way or the other, “many of our widows have been empowered through our skill acquisition schemes and at least 280 women and girls including widows and their daughters and 17 men have benefitted from these schemes”
She, however appealed to the widows to help the organization with its social and skills centre currently under construction at Isolo and to use the skills acquired to benefit themselves and the society at large.
While rendering the keynote address titled ‘Not without purpose’, Her Excellency, Dame Abimbola Fashola encouraged the women to truly keep their heads high and see God as their husbands.
She stated that there is no woman God created without a purpose whether widow or not but that the difference lies in the nature of the assignment given to each person and individual discharge of duties assigned them by God. She asserted that a woman was created by God to have dominion and nurture the earth.
She then enjoined the women to live impactful lives as expected by God and pray for other people around them because if everybody engages in selfish prayers, at a time of need, there would be nobody to pray for them.
Before rounding off her speech, Her Excellency gave the widows three key areas to improve upon in order to live impactful lives “First and foremost, you have to love God; Secondly, love people around you and when you do that God averts evil for you. Also, take care of yourselves. Eat the right meals, use the right drugs because health is wealth.”
She also encouraged them to teach their children to love God, let them develop personal relationships with God and see how things would turn out for them. “And you shouldn’t be complaining instead you should give thanks, because it is you that is blessed, you are not the dead one, you are alive, you are not in the hospital neither were you brought here on a wheel chair”.
She also advised widows to learn a vocational skill to empower themselves and try to learn something new every year. She enjoined them to make their children acquire skills too asides formal education. “Anything a child wants to do, let him do it, some of you parents, simply because you don’t want people to mock you, you push your children to University. In as much as there is nothing bad with a University degree, I decided not to attend one and I didn’t, I made up my mind to be a secretary and today I am one and proud of it”
The state Commissioner of Youth and Sports duly represented by Laide Latinwa encouraged the women to endeavour to engage in activities that would make their impact felt even by the unborn generation.
She also encouraged women whose lives have been touched by the head-high international organization to help lift other widows around them, “let the lifting efforts be multiplied”, she said.
In her message, the state Commissioner for Women Affairs and Poverty alleviation, Dr. Lola Slander duly represented by Jumoke Odusanmi, established the sufferings of widows in a typical African setting highlighting the inhumane treatments they are made to go through even in the 21st century of which Nigerian widows are no exception.
She, however, believes that it is time for women to come together to help tackle the challenges such as violence and discrimination against widows of all ages, “we must ensure that widows are well treated with equal opportunities for education and participation in the economy.”
The honourable commissioner also reiterated the efforts of the ministry towards poverty alleviation for widows through the skills acquisition schemes and programs organized by the ministry at intervals, “we would not relent in our campaign for women emancipation and empowerment. In the ministry of women affairs alone, there exists eighteen skill acquisition schemes established to empower young people and women across the state, most especially, widows. It is worthy to note that the short term and long term trainings are totally free of charge.”.
Some of the widows shared their experiences with New Telegraph one of which is Mrs Justina Ugwu, a mother of four children, who had lost her husband since 2006. She lamented that since the death of her husband life has been tough and hellish but with God by her side, she was able to overcome as three of her children had been in the higher institution one of which is currently in the compulsory National Youth Service Scheme (NYSC). “It was not easy at all. My husband’s family abandoned me and the children to survive alone and God helped us. I am a teacher in a private school so what I’m earning is just peanut so it was difficult for me when my first child gained admission into the University but God saw us through. I give him all the glory. ”
Mrs. Ogunmade Juliet stated that it has not been an easy journey since there was no one to support her, though her husband’s younger brother tried to make some efforts, he could not cope with it. “I have lost my husband since 33 years ago now. I never enjoyed my marriage because my husband died young. He just celebrated his 45 year old birthday. He had future plans for us but death cheated us. Since then, I have been running here and there to train my children to the level they are now and truly, God has always been faithful”.
She said that she appreciates the woman of God that have been helping widows and prays that God takes her higher.
Deaconess Busola Shomade, a mother of three, who lost her husband since year 2000 said that widowhood has not been easy on her. She described it as a tough one, that sometimes when a widow wakes up in the morning, her next option might be to cry knowing that her husband is nowhere but that God has helped her through it all.
“When I lost my husband, my mother-in-law sent I and the children out if the house so we had to look for our own apartment. But then we continued collecting the rent but later she stopped us from collecting the rent and took over though she promised to send us feeding money but we didn’t see anything. However, when my daughter gained admission into Yaba Tech last year, she gave us 20,000 but one thing is that God has always been my husband. He has always been there for me”.
Also speaking, Deaconess Opeyemi Falaye, a member of the trustee board stated that everything was rough but with God, it went well. She said that her husband died in year 1999 and her first son was in the first year in the University, the second was writing his senior WAEC while the last born was in his penultimate year in the secondary school.
“But today, with God by my side, all of them have graduated, they are doing well, they are in good places of work and they are taking care of me but initially, I thought I was going to die, I could not go to parties, I could not mingle with people, even friends that promised heaven and earth abandoned us. Initially, I was annoyed but later I realized that everybody has his cross to bear. So, I give God all the glory”
In an interview with Journalists, Pastor Mrs. Odugbeni spoke on what led her to establish the organisation
She said that as the first female pastor among her peers, she felt an urge to influence other women’s lives, “so I made up my mind to read the two books named after women in the Bible. I started with the book of Ruth because I was quite familiar with Esther. It was then that God arrested me, he showed me that there are different categories of widows.
With the information God gave me, the first thing that came to my mind as a journalist was to start a magazine or newsletter for widows but later we started with a Television series on NTA ten and with the way things turned out, I knew that was what God wanted me to do. This later led to a widows it held at Isolo where widows spoke at length and wanted more meetings. That was what led to this”.
Speaking on the challenges of the organization, she mentioned finance as one of the major challenges of the organisation and called on the government and other corporate bodies for assistance. She also expressed her gratitude to the sponsors and donors of the Head high international organization.
I didn’t sacrifice my career for family – Professor Folayan
To some, life is just a phase, a compendium of events. To others, life is seen as an opportunity to achieve milestones that would make significant marks on the sand of time. In the latter category is Mrs. Morenike Oluwatoyin Folayan, an associate professor of Child Dental Health, Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital and member of the College’s research and partnership unit. In a chat with Elizabeth Ogunbamowo and Mayowa Ososami, the scholar speaks on her career
What motivated you to toe the teaching line?
I ventured into the teaching line by accident. I never planned to be a lecturer. I trained as a dentist and I had a very experienced professor- Odunsoya. I would say that almost 90% of my set came back into what we call the residency programme where we specialize. In our own world then, that was like a PHD and you know when you get a PHD, the more you research, the more you get interested. In our world then, there was a lot of gap in the academia and once you do your fellowship, there is always a space for you as a lecturer. I got in there. I think what I enjoy most is the research work. Teaching gave me the opportunity to share that and mentor young people. As an advocate also, I could share my research findings to change the world and students are the most available persons you can share that with. I enjoy that. I do not really enjoy clinical work.
In a University, you must do three things. You teach research and do community works. For most medical doctors, their community work is what they do in the teaching hospital. For me, my community work revolves a lot around advocacy worker.
What were your challenges like?
Yes, there are challenges but for me I have lived a life of overcoming challenges such that it has become a part of life. I could very well say that working in the University has its own peculiar challenges. I guess I could complain, just sadly I don’t. For me one of the things that was a challenge and extensively challenging was not having supporting seniors. I did not have supportive seniors so I had to learn the ropes myself and I had to climb the ropes myself. I think that is the only thing I can think of. Then it was a tug of war. I had to fight my battles. I fought battles people had never fought. I probably survived because I had God and maybe one of these miracles.
What are your teaching philosophies?
One thing for me, I think I got that from my own teacher, that when students fail, I failed. I remember the time that I was HOD, I was excited that I had a one hundred percent pass rate. The second year, it wasn’t the exact rate. But I was able to do a one hundred percent pass, so for me, when students fail, it should be me that failed.
In recent time, the second philosophy I share with my students is that, I am working with you to be everything you want to be in life, you make the choice. When I am in class teaching them, I make them to understand that I’m working with them. So that when they pick up their CV, there is something extra in that CV that gives them the likelihood to be taken up anywhere else despite the fact that they studied in Nigeria.
How is your marital life?
I am not married now. I am divorced. I was married then to Mr. Ukpong and he was supportive of my career. As a researcher on HIV/AIDS, I remember the times that HIV patients would come to the house and sleep over but my husband would not kick against it. They would use the bed in the guest room because we were staying in a two-bedroom flat and my husband never bothered me.
As a career woman, how do you jostle between the home front and your career?
I think one of the things that probably made me call for a divorce was that I could not sacrifice my career for my home and I am happy I did not. Because now that I’m divorced, I’m still going on, I don’t feel any loss and I don’t feel that I’ve wasted my life. In addition, I must acknowledge extensively that my husband stood at home front for me, spent a lot of time with the kids. He did and I would always acknowledge that.
However, following up my teenage years, I think I had trained my children to become very independent. That is one of the things that make me sad, sometimes. My kids do not really need me around. At times, I just wonder if my kids really need me.
Actually, the three of them are now in the UK, one of them is married and two are in school. I send them text messages through Whatsapp, Messenger, and two weeks after, they reply. I really brought up independent children, it has its disadvantages but it allowed me a lot more in my career.
What do you hope to achieve in your teaching profession?
I am looking forward to highly successful students. I usually tell my students that I want them to become the people that would fill those spaces up there. I want them to be those I would be watching on my TV tomorrow. I want them at the top.
As a researcher in areas of HIV/AIDS, will you say it is reducing or on the rise?
Excellent question! There has been a lot of progress in the field of HIV response. However, we do know that it is an infectious disease. It is not an infection you just go and catch because it is invisible. It is transmitted in such a way that you do not see the event happening and even though we have globally controlled the epidemic, in Sub-Saharan Africa, it is still a problem. In Nigeria, it is still a real problem. It is a problem that if not reinforced; you just want to start all over again. Although, it is in control in some parts of the world, in Nigeria it is not and without funding, it would still be a problem.
How can a woman in a typical African Society live a self-purposeful life without having to pay for it?
You said typical. She will pay for it. In a typical African setting, you are assertive and pursuing your goal. You are going to pay for it because there is no way out, you just have to choose to pay the price or you conform. That is the chart you have in a typical African setting. You would pay the price of stigma, rumors and backlashes. The only thing that saves you is if you come out well, the gist, rumor, backlashes would become less if you succeeded but if you are assertive and then you fail. You are doom.
Cases of domestic violence flood our societies daily. Do you think it is on the increase as against what was once obtainable?
No, it is not on the increase. It has always been there. I think there are lot of noises and voices around now. I think what you are just seeing is a lot more of harvesting. People are now speaking out and going to the court.
Can financial independence of a woman be a factor for home-break?
It is not about the economic empowerment of women. It is just that women are becoming more educated and this translates to financial independence. Financial independence of a woman does not determine a broken home except both parties do not manage it well and home will break whether you are financially independent or not.
So you do have people that their home are broken but are yet in marriage. What you will find out is that with more independence, your life becomes prior and you don’t necessarily have to go through the torture of maintaining a home. Therefore, independence does not necessarily mean home-break; you have to work it out. In every relationship, partners have to work it out together.
Victimised for her passion
For her passion and activism, she is being victimised and even persecuted. Maria Nwachi, an Ebonyi State lawmaker and photographer, was suspended for practicing her passion aside being a lawmaker, UCHENNA INYA reports
This is not the best of time for Mrs. Maria Nwachi, member representing Afikpo North East constituency in Ebonyi state House of Assembly. She is in the eyes of the storm again in the state for engaging in her second business (photography/image making) after law making, Nwachi is currently the most popular politician in Afikpo Town. Youths, women and men folk love Nwachi for her philanthropy, empowerment and emancipation programme. She is popularly known as Afikpo Chic, Nwanyi Afikpo, ‘Best Chic Ever Liveth’.
In 2015, Nwachi contested House of Assembly on the platform of Progressives People’s Alliance(PPA) and won. PPA was very unpopular in entire Afikpo and her constituency, Afikpo North East. She had wanted to run on the platform of People’s Democratic Party but changed her mind. She was elected the Minority Leader of the House of Assembly.
Prior to her emergence as the state lawmaker, entire Afikpo was in darkness for two years, as Enugu Electricity Distribution Company (EEDC) could not supply electricity to the town. Nwachi swung into action and reconnected the area to the national grid while the people enjoyed constant electricity supply. They nicknamed the electricity supply her name, MARIA.
Six months after, the area witnessed another period of power outage. This prompted the youths to go on rampage. They vandalized EEDC properties in the area. Nwachi was blamed for not controlling the youths and she was suspended by the state House of Assembly for three months. The suspension lasted for six months.
Last year, she defected to the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). Her party, PPA kicked against the defection by filing a suit against her at federal high court, Abakaliki. PPA is seeking the court to declare her seat vacant. The State PPA Chairman, Samuel Udeogu said the suit was filed because Nwachi who was sponsored on the platform of the PPA during the last general election was now a member of PDP in the State. “My reason for taking this matter to court was because the actions of Hon. Maria Ude Nwachi which my party sponsored to the House of Assembly were against sections 106 sub-section 1d and section 109 sub-section1g of the constitution of federal republic of Nigeria as amended in 1999.
“It is a settled law that once there is no division in your party at the national level or there are no talks of merger with any other political party or group that defection in that instance becomes a nullity.
As the suit lies in the federal high court, Nwachi who has declared interest to go to National Assembly in next year’s general elections was suspended again by the state House of Assembly. The Assembly suspended her for two weeks, January 23rd, 2018. Nwachi was allegedly suspended for gross misconduct and for posing as public photographer.
In a motion moved by the Leader of the House, Hon. Joseph Nwobasi representing Ezza North East constituency and seconded by Hon. Franca Okpo representing Abakaliki North constituency, Hon. Nwachi was reported to have been recalcitrant to earlier warning by the Assembly to desist from being a photographer in the state. She was therefore suspended for 14 days pending the time the committee constituted by the House to investigate the allegation against her conclude its report. Nwachi was also reported to have been recalcitrant to earlier warnings by the Assembly on her activities.
The Assembly noted that Nwachi, a former Minority Leader of the House has brought disrespect and dishonesty to herself and the Assembly by bringing her image and integrity to the mud by posing as public photographer. Her suspension however generated mixed reactions from members of the public. While some described it as political witch-hunt, others said it was a welcome development to halt her increasing lifestyle, which has allegedly brought her name and that of the Assembly to disrepute.
Two days ago, last Wednesday precisely; the embattled lawmaker appeared before the Assembly 5-man committee set-up to investigate her alleged misconduct. The committee grilled Nwachi for more than 30 minutes and she pleaded guilty. She pleaded guilty at the Assembly Complex, Nkaliki road, Abakaliki during the committee’s sitting over her matter. She accepted that there were two sittings which she avoided because of her image making business for a prominent man in Imo state. She also accepted that she does some promotions for Governor Dave Umahi which according to her was to showcase the Governor’s achievements before the world. “I actually avoided the two sittings because of my private business and such behavior no matter the circumstances cannot be right. I cannot justify that and I do not see what the House has done as regards my suspension as a political witch-hunt. Rather, I see my action as very wrong and I cannot justify it,” Nwachi said.
She added that, “I actually do some promotions for my Governor, he is my Governor. I do promotions for him not image laundering. I have many people on Facebook and I know how to figure those things and my consideration for doing that is to enable the people of the country to know that my Governor is doing well and developing the state.
“Even before I came into politics, I have been doing Facebook business and managing the Igboist account which enjoys large followership, I have been doing lots of empowerment through it.
Usually, I use my resources to do those empowerment programmes but this time around I introduced a formular which the Igboist members can contribute to empower the people. It is a new empowerment scheme and it’s a sort of family empowerment for members of the Igboist,” she said.
Chairman of the Committee and member representing Ikwo south constituency, Hon. Chike Ogiji told Nwachi that the House was worried about her activities which he said portrays her and the Assembly in bad light, hence the suspension and commended the lawmaker for her sincerity on the allegations against her. “We are not interested in your private life, we don’t even intend to delve into your privacy. Nevertheless, what we want is that as long as you continue to be a member of this House of Assembly, it is collective responsibility and the public perception about your behavior and conduct is also important to us and that is why we have done this.
Adding that, “It is clear that you have accepted the mistakes you made and we want to tell you that we are not witch-hunting you. Our business is to ensure that you move as an Honourable member with the intension to protecting the collective interest of the House that we have the integrity and that is why the House frowned at most of your actions.”
Another member of the committee and member representing Ohaukwu South constituency, Hon. Frank Onwe also commended Nwachi for displaying sincerity on the allegations against her. “Dear colleague, I must commend you for making the work of this House very easy. By accepting responsibilities for all these things leveled against you. For the purpose of the public and records, people go out there to give misconceptions of what happened in the House. The House did not suspend you simply because you are photographing. For us, we see it as a hobby! When there is programme we go there, snap with people and get pictures.
But it becomes a problem when you go to a public place outside your area and in the process where you are pauperizing or you are pushed down and they will say it is ‘Maria, the legislator’ and where is the legislator from? She is from Ebonyi state. So, it takes something away from the House here that one of us is being pushed around. They will not know that you are doing it for just hobby purposes and that is why we are majorly concerned. Some of us here have cameras and if there is any function or public gathering, we snap. So, what we are saying here is that the image of Maria is very important to us,” he asserted.
Nwachi was born in Ozizza community, Afikpo, Ebonyi State and left Nigeria for United States of America in 1989 when she was 19 years old, she came back to the country middle of year 2000. On arrival to Nigeria, she got involved in Social Media related matters; news dissemination and was one of the early people that started News on Facebook Nigeria. she moved into Image-making in 2012 by managing Facebook Accounts/Pages and Social Media Accounts for top companies and establishments, top prominent men/women of the society; including governors and oil magnets. The first time she practiced image-making was for Jeb Bush in 2002 in Florida, USA when Bush contested governorship election.
Nwachi also serves as a Photographer. She personally takes the photographs of all her clients and equally does a very special type of editing on them. She was always seen in public functions with camera taking pictures of the events for her social media accounts.
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