Osasu Igbinedion, a broadcast journalist, is the host and executive producer of The Osasu Show, a programme that focuses on sustainable development in Africa, predominantly Nigeria.
In this interview with PREMIUM TIMES, she speaks about what Nigerian government could do to promote women and youth development in the country.
PT: In one of your most recent episodes, you talked about youth exclusion in governance in Nigeria. But shouldn’t we rather blame the youth who prefer to do the dirty works like killings during elections and ballot stealing, than be decently involved in politics and governance?
Igbinedion:The youth are not solely to blame for their actions and inactions. The youth in our country today have been robbed of their political rights by elderly politicians who continue to feed them lies that youth are the leaders of tomorrow, whereas in other parts of the world the youth are the leaders of today.
In my interview you referred to, I had the opportunity of speaking with Ambassador Yvonne Khamati, Kenya’s permanent representative to the United Nations. Ambassador Khamati was 22 years old when she was first appointed to parliament in Kenya. In other African countries like South Africa, Uganda, and Rwanda, you will find similar stories of 30 year-old men and women elected as senators, governors, ambassadors and prime ministers. In correlation to their involvement in governance you will notice the improvement of their infrastructure and economy. You will notice the implementation of policies favourable to young people and women.
PT: The youth seem to be addicted to WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites. Do you see foresee any problem?
Igbinedion: They need to be more actively engaged, that is what it boils down to. These social apps, in my opinion, should be used for more educative purposes than leisure. It is quite unfortunate that a lot of young people my age or even older are more committed to creating an illusion of success on social media rather than actually creating real success.
The increasing rate of unemployment in Nigeria plays a major role in this issue. In Kenya, parliament passed a bill that 30 per cent of all government procurement, whether it is in the oil and gas, agriculture, or solid minerals sector, must be allocated to young people between the ages of 18 to 35. By doing so, the government is able to create jobs and stimulate the nation’s economy.
PT: With the Internet getting more popular by the day, do you accept that online media is a threat to the conventional broadcast media?
Igbinedion: People in my generation rarely watch TV anymore, and that is a challenge for broadcast journalists. Every serious media practitioner must ensure they have some sort of online presence. Personally, I have adapted to the growing trend, all episodes of The Osasu Show are also published on our website.
PT: We are confronted these days with many stories of sexual exploitation of young girls in Nigeria. Do you think our justice system is doing enough to protect vulnerable children?
Igbinedion: The justice system cannot be said to be doing enough until every perpetrator is behind bars. It is extremely sad because the majority of people who commit this appalling crime believe they are untouchable, they believe they can never be caught and even if they are they will be let off the hook.
We need justice for children who are raped by relatives but are forced to keep quite because their family is afraid of public shaming.
We need justice for children who are in “consensual” sexually active relationships with older persons, like in the recent case of the young girl from Bayelsa who claims she’s in love with her alleged abductor. The law should protect children like her who aren’t old enough to know what they truly want out of a relationship.
PT: How do you feel when people attribute rape to victim’s mode of dressing?
Igbinedion: It is absolutely bizarre and only shows their level of ignorance. It is the same thing as saying when a man is playing football shirtless or at the beach in his knickers, a woman can justifiably rape him because he is not modestly dressed. It is absurd, it is pathetic and it is a double standard constructed to shame the victim and shift blame from the perpetrator.
PT: We will like you to share a few tips on how a young woman can achieve career success without compromising her integrity.
Igbinedion: My advice would simply be to think. If you are a Christian, think of your purpose and why you have been created.
PT: Few days from now, the world will be celebrating the International Women’s Day. What issues do you think should dominate discussions on women in Nigeria?
Igbinedion: The increasing rate in maternal mortality, abolishment of Female Genital Mutilation, creating an environment that fosters gender equality, and putting an end to child marriage for good. I’d also love to discuss ways Nigeria can emulate President Kagame’s leadership when it comes to women-inclined policies. Women make up 35 per cent of President Kagame’s cabinet, and a record shattering 60 per cent of Rwanda’s parliament.
PT: Who’s your role model in the talk show business in Nigeria?
Igbinedion: There are too many phenomenal Nigerian women I can pick from and it will be unfair to pick just one.
PT: What criteria do you use in picking guests who appear on your programme?
Igbinedion: Our slogan for The Osasu Show is “briding the gap”. I go to the streets to speak with everyday Nigerians like the both of us then I return to the studio with information I’ve gathered. I then discuss with leaders from the private and public sectors about best practices that will solve the problems of the masses.
My goal for every interview is to challenge the status quo, think outside of the box and ensure everyone who comes across The Osasu Show learns something new and/or is motivated to move Nigeria, and Africa at large, forward to achieve its potential.
PT: Who is the most fascinating character among the people you’ve interviewed so far on your programme?
Igbinedion: My visits to the IDP camps are always the most fulfilling. I love spending time with the children and women and highlighting the real developmental issues our country faces.