A Giant Awakened: I Contested for Edo State House of Assembly for the First Time and the First Female in my Party
Centre LSD turned my dream of being a politician into a reality. Because of this training, I chose to bridge the gap of women and youth exclusion in my political party, by picking the form and contesting in the 2019 General election. It was Tony Robbins that said, “It is in your moments of decisions that your destiny is shaped.” Centre LSD Ford Foundation Capacity building was the platform that was instrumental to waking up the giant in me. Before the training, I was a miniature, naïve and had no real political ambition. The training made feel like I have slept for too long and x-rayed the great part of me that I ever knew existed.
Before I attended the Centre LSD’s training, women and youth’s inclusion was almost 100% in my party. Political engagements of the youths were mainly for mobilization and security (Thuggery). This was so bad that about 90% of the youths were unaware of the constitution and manifesto of the party. High Money politics, discrimination, election violence, vote buying, rejection of the electorate after election and unimplemented policies by the elected was a common factor.
In April 2018, I was selected by Centre LSD as a participant for a 3 days capacity building workshop. Those three days were the most amazing days of my entire life. The teachings from the different lecturers helped drive home the point. Each lecture was like a blow from the hammer, each nailed the message in. The welcome address form Dr. Otive enumerating the key importance of youths in leadership in order to address national challenges, was enthusiastic. From the teaching on the need to raise youths to participates in politics; development of the manifesto to economic/financial base for campaign, etc. were all very impactful.
After the training, I picked a form, came to my constituency and organized a free health outreach, met and got the blessing of the elders in my constituency, began my campaign, produced posters flyer, banners; conducted social media campaigns; organized townhall meetings; selected and trained my agents; trained the youths in my constituency against election violence and vote buying, etc. In February 2019, I contested for the Edo State House of Assembly, to represent Oredo West Constituency under Labour party. Although I did not win the election, it didn’t pull me down but opened opportunities for recognition for me within and outside the state.
I suddenly became a celebrity of some sort. I began to get invitations from so many political youth groups to be a resource person and this is still ongoing. I became one whose name is turning into a household name amongst youth bodies in Benin environ and among the civil society.
Mrs. Grace Ese Obakuna, Caring Heart Initiative for Advocacy Development and Empowerment.