Nollywood Actress, Nkiru Sylvanus was recently named as Special Assistant to Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha. Her appointment as Special Assistant, Lagos Affairs sparked mixed reactions amongst concerned citizens of the State who criticized her appointment.
In this Interview with IMO STATE BLOG, Ms. Sylvanus silences her critics and sets the record straight.
Congratulations on your appointment as Special Assistant on Lagos Affairs to His Excellency, Rochas Okorocha.
Thank you very much.
Q: There has been a lot of controversies surrounding your appointment, when they say, Special Assistant Lagos Affairs, what does that mean? Could you explain your Portfolio in detail?
A: Okay. Well, I am actually going to be the Imo State Liason officer in Lagos. I am going to be a middle person for the Imo indigenes resident in Lagos that would want the Governor to listen to them and pretty much everything that a Liason officer does. I would also help the Government to create activities that would also help boost the Imo indigenes in Lagos state.
Q:Basically, you would be focussing on Imo indigenes resident in Lagos?
Q:Tell me more about this Lagos Liason office and your specific job description.
A: I am yet to find out specific details because my Office was only inaugurated yesterday. However, I have been briefed that there a lot of abandoned properties in Lagos owned by the Imo State government. These properties have been abandoned for years. The Liason office will be looking into that. We are going to ensure that we recover them and those that need to be put in use will, be put in use.
We are going to be recruiting reliable people to work with. The Governor found me worthy of that post, so I consider myself lucky and I am humbled to serve the people of Imo State.
Q: Yes you are! Now, in 2010 you were named the Face of Hope Ambassador. How do you intend to combine your obligations with the Face of Hope Organization and your office as Special Assistant.?
A: The Face of Hope Organization is supposed to name an Ambassador yearly. My tenure would soon be over. Once a new Ambassador get picked, I will be handing over. In the meantime, it would not interfer with my Office is any way.
Face of Hope is centered around fund raising for the continuous Free Education for the less priviledged. If anything, it would give me a wider opportunity to network with people I could dialogue with towards improving the lives of the less priviledged in our Society.
Q:That makes sense. Back to your newly appointed office; is this Position a Paid position or Charity for the State?
A: Right now, just as I mentioned earlier, I have not been fully briefed on what my Office entails or . . . . what I am going to be paid, who would be paying me and all of that. The Appointment was made yesterday and I am yet to be fully briefed.Once when my Office has been fully set up, the Job specifications would be detailed to me. It is only then that I would have a full idea of everything that is required of me, what and how I am going to be paid.
Q:Did your Appointment come as a surprise to you or did you see it coming?
A: I had no idea whatsoever that I was going to be given this Position. Somehow, people around me had been nursing the feeling that I would get an Appointment with the Government but there were no Specifics on what it was going to be. If at all there would be one. I could only hope that the Governor would entrust me to do somethings for him in Imo State and it was only Yesterday that I got to learn of the Appointment and Office assisgned to me.
Q: What happens to your Acting career in Nollywood?
A:I still intend to remain in the Film Industry. I am not going to quit.
Q:Do you have any intentions to join Poliitcs full time and maybe contest in an Election someday?
(Laughter) For now, it is too soon to say. I have been called upon to serve the people of Imo State and that comes first.
Q:Africa has 6 out of the 10 fastest growing economies in the world. Nigeria is one of them today because of the booming economy in Lagos. What are some business ideas that you have identified to have worked in Lagos that can work in Imo.
A: Like I had stated previously. It is only when you are settled and fully briefed that you will know the expectations from the Office and what is required. That would give you an opportunity to begin creating ideas that would actually help to boost the image of Imo people and also generate funds for Imo State from Lagos State.
When it comes to business, Joi . I am confident in myself and with the Business acumen I have, there would be nothing short of positive reviews from my office.
Q:What gives you this confidence? I must say that I am really impressed.
A: I have been in business all my life. I ventured into Buisness at an early age of 16. Presently, I own a Communications company. We have Patnered with Airtel in Enugu State. I have been involved in Business for a long time. I am not a loud person ; I let my work speak for me. For the people that have had the opportunity to work with me, they can attest to the things I am capable of doing. If Governor Rochas Okorocha did not see anything good in me, he would never take the risk because my position is a very sensitive one.
Q: How would you advance the Gov’s agenda when it comes to the Imo State Youths living in Lagos. What would be your prospective towards using the Governors agenda to better the people’s lives ?
A: As for the Youths. You can only know what to do for people and how to help them when you interact with them . It is only when you talk with them that you will understand what their challenges are. I would see that we have room of dialogue. A forum of Imo Youths in Lagos. We would bring them together to hear from them to know what their challenges are and how they would want the Okorocha led Administration to step in and help them. When you hear from them, it would give you an insight of what you should work on presenting to the Governor.
Q:As one of the Celebrated actresses in Nigeria today, would you rely on your influence in the Entertainment Industry to encourage the Youths?
A: When you talk about Entertainment. It has been over-emphasized. There are other things we have neglected over the years that could be used to motivate and inspire the youths. That is why I need to have a dialogue with the people to know their problems to enable me assist better.
One of the things I would love to do with the Youth is to hold Seminars to help them build their Careers. To enlighten them and put them on their feet because Education is key to success. If you are not informed, you cannot move forward. Starting with Seminars, that could go a long way towards helping the Youth and guide them towards a succesful future.
Q:The internet has been agog with rumours linking you otherwise to His Excellency, some feel you dont have the qualifications needed for this position. How would you respond to your critics ?
A: First, anyone saying such about me does not know me. Neither do they know the qualifications I bring to the table. It is normal that sometimes, when an Appointment like this is made, there might have been people who were interested in the same Position so it comes as a shock to learn that someone else has the Position they had been hoping for. It is very rare for we humans to lie low and congratulate.
We are always looking for ways to bring people down. There is nothing that has been given to anyone on this earth that their peers felt was deserving. Even when you toil day and night and everyone sees how hard you have worked; when you get a Position like this, you are bound to come across people who will do anything to pull you down because they feel you do not deserve it.
Talking about a relationship with His Excellency, Okorocha. This is not the first time I am hearing such. Right from when I won the FACE OF HOPE competition and I became their Ambassador. It doesn’t bother me because I am a lady that has the GRACE of GOD upon her life and I have a moving force. When you know what you are doing, you will always identify with great people. They will always see your potential and would want to carry you along.
His Excellency is one person that once he sees someone with a Potential, someone who is focussed and knows what he or she wants out of life, he will help to carry the person along irrespective of who you are or where you are coming from. He doesn’t care. He just carries you along because he always wants to be focussed and loves to meet people with Potentials.
Starting from the time I won the Face of Hope contest, people went about talking behind my back questioning how I could have won. Some said ” oh probaby because she is sleeping with Rochas Okorocha. . . .” Unknown to them, it wasn’t even his Project afterall. It was his daughter’s and every decision carried out was hers. Her father, Gov. Okorocha had no influence in it.
I see. . . . . .
Yes. People kept speculating all sorts of stories. Some thought winning the Competition meant I had embraced Money. My Office at the Face of Hope Organization is one where you have to work on your toes. When I walked into that office, there was no money. Not one kobo. I was told that it was totally for Charity and my Office was created solely to raise funds.
Also, if I am going to raise funds to benefit the less priviledged in the Society, I do not expect to live in Luxury. The money that could have been given to me to live in Luxury could as well go to the young children on the streets. What keeps me motivated is that I love to work for Humanity and I am passionate about helping the less privileged. So, I just have to see this opportunity as an opportunity to move on.
Q: You have silenced the critics. How do you address the rumour mongers who have labelled you as a girl-friend of Gov._____________
A: It is unfortunate that people can sit down and concort false stories.
During the elections in Imo State I was all over the State. I attended every major Campaign event for His Excellency, Governor Okorocha. I was there when he declared his interest to aspire for the Governorship of the State. Then, people did not talk about my relationship with him. They saw me on T.V, they heard me on the Radio, they saw me take part in the Street Rallies, they saw me at the INEC Office in Owerri yet; no body talked about my relationship with him. Lo and Behold, an announcement is made and the rumour mill starts working overtime. All of a sudden, I am sleeping with a man I look up to as a Mentor and Father?
All these people saying things about Governor Okorocha do not know him at all. If they did, they will eat their words. He has a very kind heart and loves to help people.
Again, it is very unfortunate that in the society we live in, we expect these kind of things to happen. Even when you are a young girl struggling to move ahead, people in our Society find it very hard to believe that a young girl can ever get anything on Merit. Once a girl gets a Position and it happens to come from a Man, it is automatically assumed that she is romantically linked to the Man. It is a shame.
These negative things that people talk about has affected our society so much that they have pushed our young girls on the Streets. You will find out that most Men in Power would shy away from helping a girl they know because they are scared that their name could show up on the pages of the News Papers with unprintable stories linking them to the said girl and that could end up creating scandal. As a result, the Men would rather have dealings with the girls in Private and abandon them. They will rather not help them. As a result, you find our girls on the Street stuggling to make it and that pushes them into Prostitution.
Q: What do you propose?
A: If our Society we live in can begin thinking less of young women and the petty stories they speculate about the women out there who are struggling, it will help us advance further. The Society should also create avenues to carry the Women along and empower them.
Q: Any last words for women out there who look up to you?
A: I would encourage them to stay focussed and not discouraged by what they hear and what the Society identifies them with. I say this because once you begin to listen to the negative stories around you, it is one of the strongest factors in pulling you down and leaving you behind. I would want them to hold on to their Faith, their Beliefs and their Ideas. In no distant time, the Society is going to embrace them and realise that women are also part of the Society and should be respected.
Thank you for your time.
It is always my pleasure, Joi. Thank you