Tonto Dikeh’s emergence as the running mate of the Rivers State gubernatorial candidate of the African Democratic Congress (ADC), Tonte Ibraye, might very well go down as one of the biggest surprises of the year.
But, while some Nigerians are yet to come to terms with the development, she appears poised to erase certain misconceptions while ensuring she and her principal, Mr Ibraye, emerge victorious come 2023.
In an interview with Channels TV’s Seun Okinbaloye, the actress-turned-politician spoke about her political ambition and manifesto.
Among other things, the mother-of-one acknowledged that while she might be termed controversial, Nigerians will see a different side to her in the months leading to the elections.
She said: “I’m a woman of controversy, yes. But that doesn’t mean I’m not loyal to what I believe in. I believe in good governance and opportunities for the youth women, including them in government decision-making.
“I’m ready for criticism. I have failed in my life, and I do not deny that, and everybody has seen that. But am I going to fail with leadership?
”But have I ever failed in leadership or motherhood? No. I have been tested critically in leadership through my foundation and an existing organisation, the CYMS, the Committee for Youth, Mobilisation, and Sensitisation of this administration. I have paid my dues when it comes to social work. I think I was one of the foundations that have stood up and helped this country during the pandemic with no assistance whatsoever. I did more than even government. I did more than even states. I did it because I care. So I am prepared for whatever criticism it is. I know that it will come. For God’s sake, I’m Tonto, ready for all the questions. But the truth is, have you ever tried me on leadership, and I’ve failed? Nah”.
During the interview, Ms Dikeh also shared what she termed an unpopular opinion on the position of a deputy governor and her identity.
‘‘This might be controversial, but a deputy is a spare tyre, and I am willing to be the best spare tyre every governor or mandate has ever had. I’m prepared for anything. I’ve had three years to work on this, and this didn’t happen overnight. We weren’t a member of any party. We were just in for the government’s good, mediating between the government and the youth.
‘‘The candidate approached me to be his running mate, and I think it’s something I can do. I’ve always wanted to be in politics since I became a personality in the country. Through my foundation, I’ve always given back to the community that made me who I am. It’s politics. I’ve always been in politics,” she said.
As the ADC governorship candidate stated during the party’s first official press conference in Abuja recently, Ms Dikeh emphasised that they are coming on a rescue mission for Rivers State.
At the press conference, Mr Ibraye said he had worked closely with the actress, noting that Ms Dikeh has been a member of ADC for a long time.
He said, “I have worked closely with Tonto Dikeh for more than a year now, and she has been part of the party for a very long time. She has been following up with the primary process, an advocate of transparency, and I believe I did not make any mistake in choosing her as my running mate. She has so many things, such as creating employment opportunities’’.
While she refused to share her electoral strategy to win the forthcoming elections, she shared what read like a mini-manifesto.
“There are lots of agendas we look to push. We look to invest massively in social security. Foremost in my heart is the inclusion of women and youths in politics and decision-making in the country.
READ ALSO: Why I picked Tonto Dikeh as my running mate – Tonte Ibraye
“We will encourage local production to increase export and support the growth of small businesses. I’m a massive farmer of cassava, snail, and many things. I have a farm in Rivers State and Abuja. I export real good. This will include different products. Port-Harcourt is strong in other things apart from oil. We intend to produce local products. In July 2018, the Nollywood actress announced that her name had officially changed to ‘King Tonto’ as she showed off her PVC with the new name.
The actress, whose surname remains Dikeh, said she wants to be addressed as King-Tonto.
The development came several months after she separated from her husband, Olakunle Churchill.
When the talk show host, Mr Okinbaloye, attempted to clarify if King Tonto is a stage name or her given name, The 37-year-old actress said: ‘‘I don’t call myself King Tonto. My name is King Tonto, and it is not a title. It’s a name gotten from my son. Many people still do not know it is my name; I had to take it out of my campaign posters and communication materials because I don’t want the traditional rulers to think of me as bigger than them’’.
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