Recognizing and popularizing a candidate such as Ene Ede is not a publicity favour for herself or her party or for gender activism but an effort in peace journalism. This is in the context of the persistent naming of Benue State on the list of potentially explosive sites in the impending elections. Different efforts at different levels would be required to contain the threat of explosion and annul the predictions about the state. One of such efforts must be the quality of the candidates in the contest rather than the quantity. The contention on the ground is that Ene Ede has no equal in this clime in terms of being a one-woman banner of hope. It would just simply be difficult to find any contestant who, in herself, signifies reassurance and hope for all arising from her pedigree, aspirational claims and radius.
It is, therefore, to the credit of the political party and governorship candidate that were able to fish her out to serve as Deputy-Governorship candidate. Her selection speaks to gender equity and to a quality team with a soul stirring summative of “Taking Benue State to the Mountain of Good Governance”. This is not a campaign for People’s Trust which has selected her but it won’t be surprising if she and her governorship candidate emerge a force to reckon with in the struggle for power in Benue State, come 2019 as a result of the many interests she alone cobble together in herself – local, state, Middle Belt, Northern, Pan-Nigerian, African, gender and global. By implication, she has emerged as a politician without baggage after serving across many social spaces without crossing anybody’s red lines in a complex, difficult place like Nigeria.
Benue State parades many well heeled contestants in the impending election. Governor Samuel Ortom is a first class Theologian, not minding his frequent relapse into misapplying his wonderful knowledge of the Bible. Barrister Emmanuel Jime of the APC has a populist appeal that is uncommon aside from education, age and national exposure. Dr Steven Hwande of the SDP has since settled accounts with the people long before he stepped out to seek power. Dr Frederick Ikyan of the PRP is from a party that, historically, has a message and he is also no stranger to popular mobilization, being a pastor. Barrister Innocent Daa’gba has paid his dues and can carry the burden of people’s trust. And so on and so forth.
However, in terms of involving consistency and diversity of engagement, Ene Ede brings something else to the table. Check it out: from human rights and development advocacy to gender strategic and programmatic advisory services to global conciliation and mediation facilitation for non-profit organizations to leadership of a variety of public institutions including the Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, (NEITI), (being where she experienced first-hand and data-proven, the grand deficit and mismanagement that have characterized the Nigeria public governance system) to the African Peer Review Mechanism, (APRM), that afforded her the benefit of comparative and peer review analysis and to civil society, (women and youth platforms especially) where she has been tested and certified as to earn the title of a woman of the people.
What’s more, she has, within the past 20 years, garnered great insights and experience in election management, facilitation and participation by serving in a variety of capacities that include Resource person in campaign secretariats; Monitoring and observation facilitation and participation; Voter mapping, mobilization and balloting. She has been a publisher, (The Woman Today newspapers and remains the force behind Community Information Resource Centers by which she has maintained contact with the folks back home.
Specifically, she has worked as Gender Advisor for the international NGO called Search for Common Ground, (Search) since 2014, National Coordinator for Feminist Movement Of Nigeria (FEMIN); Steering Committee Member of Nigerian Extractive Industries Initiative (NEITI) from 2008 to 2014; member of National Working Group for African Peer Review Mechanism (NEPAD) from 2007 – 2010; Representative of Women Rights Promotion and Protection Organizations; Special Assistant (Women & Youth Affairs) in the Office of the first female Speaker of the House of Representatives in Nigeria in 2007; Steering Committee Member at the National Assembly Civil Society Group in 2007; Director of Publicity for Civil Society Partnership for Democracy (CISPAD), 2007 – 2009; Program Coordinator for International Republican Institute (IRI), 2004 – 2006; Special Assistant at the Directorate of Women and Youth Affairs in the Obasanjo – Atiku Presidential Campaign Organization, 2002 – 2003; Coordinating Secretary for Women in Publishing, 2002 – Date; Executive Director, Equity Advocates, 1997 – 2014; Correspondent/Marketing Manager of Family Support Magazine, 1996 – 1997; Business Manager, News Catholic at St. Augustine’s Major Seminary, 1990 – 1992; Instructor on Business Education at Women Model Centre, Jos, 1991 – 1994; Office Manager, @ Bishop’s House, Makurdi, 1984 – 1985 and Grade II Classroom Teacher at Happy Nursery and Primary School, Makurdi, 1982 – 1984 after emerging from being an Auxiliary Teacher at Roman Catholic Mission School, Odessassa-Ugbokolo from 1974 – 1977.
The ‘Woman of the People’ is a member, Abuja Literary Society (ALS); Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ); Nigerian Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), Women in Publishing, (WIP) as well as Fellow or Associate of World Organization of Early Childhood Education; Voice of Women in Africa (VOWIA); Women’s Right Advancement & Protection Alternative (WRAPA); Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT) and the Nigerian Economic Society (NES).
In the 55 year old Ene Ede, a governorship candidate and a party finds a bundle of capabilities, altruism and one Nigerian who doesn’t know how to sell deals and dwell in intrigues.