This week’s Echo Woman features the Special Adviser to the Imo state Governor on Sustainable Development Goals and Humanitarian Services, Hon. Princess Christiana Eligwe Ude.
Hon. Princess Christiana Ude hails from Oru East LGA of Imo state.
She had her Bachelors Degree in Accounting from the prestigious University of Maryland USA. She also went further to obtain a Master’s Degree in Human Resources Management in
UK. She started working as an Accountant but was not satisfied with dealing with figures and little interaction with people.
“I felt I needed to do something different because the job was so monotonous, I started teaching Mathematics in a middle school abroad”.
With her passion of rendering help and being supportive to the less privileged, she decided to bring back educational materials and books from the college she was teaching because the school always carry out a yearly exercise of upgrading their library and clean up which entails dropping some materials, ranging from computers and other school materials for new ones.
“I said to myself that this things will be needed back home in Nigeria, I started shipping them down to Lagos because as at that time it was an easy access for me.
The more I did it, the more rewarding it was because I thought of making impacts and setting up a non-profit organisation because those materials were distributed for free to schools and orphanages in Lagos.
“I got a call from someone in UN in 2014 who said, we have seen what you do and have read about you and I was asked to come work with UN and participate in zero draft project to render support, it was a part time job but rewarding.
I started working in United Nations then came SDG job”
She started her job in Nigeria and had her challenging moments.
“When I came back it was as if they didn’t embrace me, I was shut out, I didn’t understand but someone told me that they were probably thinking I was coming to take their job from them, I said why will anyone think like that unless you are not efficient in your job. It was a frustrating experience as I was always complaining to my spouse, he saw an advert from National Assembly because he knows how passionate I was.
I got the job on promoting SDG bills on the floor, then I decided to visit the archives, I took inventory of bills written by women and the ones they’ve passed even the ones amended and I discovered there were lots of bills to be amended.
My passion to be in the legislative arm of government made me decide to run for House of Representatives election in 2019.
I started with APC because they promised to give me ticket but was disappointed by a top politician and a former governor of Imo state. It was a very tough period for me but I didn’t want anybody to stop me. I went to another party Social Democratic party (SDP) and clinched the ticket to run for Oru East/Orlu/Orsu Federal constituency.
I saw the reason why people change parties because I was wondering why another person will try to determine my fate, I looked at it that this man is trying to determine my fate, he stood in front of people and told me he will give me an appointment if I should step down for another person and it was a man.
I told him with all due respect, I was not going to step down for any person, I came out to become a legislature and if you choose not to keep your word, so be it, and I walked away.
I ran under SDP but there were lots of threats, even people trying to vote for me were threatened too, I spent alot of money, I challenged the election in court but my witnesses did not show up because I learnt they were paid off by my opponent.
So I tried to forge ahead until Governor Hope Uzodinma won and gave me the appointment as the Special Adviser on SDG and Humanitarian Services.
I wanted to be in the position to help women because I have met lots of women in politics even the former Liberian female president who motivated me, I wanted to be in a position to do something for women, I was self motivated. I wanted women to see that if a man can run election, a woman can also run.
Building confidence in women
I have a mentoring programme for girls in abroad that deal with self esteem programme, lots of women lack that, you don’t have to sleep with a man to get to do anything.
We parents need to buy essential stuff for our girls because if she doesn’t get it, she will look for a man to give her thereby, falling victim of abuse. Do as much as you can to have conversations with your child, teach them you don’t have to run to a man, make them speak up and don’t shut them up”.
Gender based violence
I have faced some sort of harassment as a woman, I know it when I see it but when you are able to do something for yourself, you don’t need to sleep with any man.
I was young but very smart, I went to college and paid my tuition fees by myself, the women that sleep around do not have anything to offer, I said I can’t date anyone in my office and if you harrass me, I will let you know I have many options.
Why women don’t speak up in face of abuse is because they feel there is no support system, like one came to my office and showed me how she was poured hot oil by her sister’s husband and she ran away and took shelter in another man’s roof and got pregnant for the man. Infact, she is not sure who is responsible for her pregnancy.
We should speak up as women in the face of abuse which can both be physical and emotional.
Most Nigerians don’t react the way I do. Some people are raised in volatile environment, so they are so hard to convince, they just accept abuse because they see their father abusing their mother and they feel that is the way things are.
Nobody can intimidate me, I fight for my right, I will only do those things my spirit support, I try to help people overcome any form of abuse.
We need to preach love in family circles, church even in our schools.
Achievements as the SA on SDGs and Humanitarian Services
I have two angles to my job that have to do with the H
humanitarian and the SDG aspects.
The state has benefited from the Conditional Cash Transfer across the 27 LGAs Formally only 9 LGAs benefitted so the governor asked me to push for the rest to be captured, it was a huge achievement for my office. Also the Home Grown Feeding programme and NPower, National Social Investment programme NSIP have also been launched in the state.
The state will soon benefit from the Government Enterprise Empowerment Program (GEEP), all these are being made possible by the executive Governor of Imo State through my office and resilience.
We have an SDG office in Abuja and have our budget but still waiting for the counterpart funding.
Advice to women
Women should be supportive and receptive to the plight of other women. Let’s be more louder and talk to our boys to stay away from gender based violence and the dangers.
No one should stay put in an abusive marriage for the sake of one’s life.