"> Lady Bullied For Running For Students’ Union Presidency Rewarded With Brand Ambassadorship - Sahel Standard
May 14, 2021
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Lady Bullied For Running For Students’ Union Presidency Rewarded With Brand Ambassadorship

Harassed, cyber-bullied and labeled ‘lady who bends down to urinate,’ for daring to contest for the post of Students’ Union president of her institution, Federal Polytechnic, Nekede, but standing through uncowed, Vivian Ifunanyachukwu Obi, was recently celebrated and endorsed as brand ambassador (Southeast) by Project Alert.

For Vivian Ifunanyachukwu Obi, March 29, 2021, would for a long while stand out as one of triumph. This followed her award and investiture by foremost gender rights NGO, Project Alert on Violence Against Women as its Southeast Ambassador, following her defiance and challenge of an age-long status quo that forbade a female student from contesting for the post of Student Union President of her school, Federal Polytechnic, Nekede, Owerri, Imo State.

As the story went, Obi, following her declaration of intent to contest the coveted position, had been pooh-poohed, harassed and insulted for even daring to think the unthinkable. For them, the position is an exclusive preserve of the male gender, and not one that ‘a female who bends down to urinate’ should ever think of. For this, she encountered serious cyber bullying and real-life harassment, where the male chauvinists sought to bring her down.

According to Obi, the ‘men’ did not stop at that, as some, on the manifesto day, threatened her with death by crossing their forefinger across their throat.  As a result, she had to be whisked out of the hall by her campaign team and supporters.

In the end, Obi did not win, having scored 174 of the over 500 accredited votes; but her courage and defiance caught the attention of Mrs. Josephine Effah-Chukwuma, Executive Director Project Alert and her team, who saw in her rare valiance and strength of character needed in gender advocacy and decided to honour her with an award and the NGO’s brand ambassadorship in the Southeast of the country.

According to Effah-Chukwuma, “It is not just patriarchy but misogyny for a group of male students to gang up and say that a young girl, a human and bona fide student of an institution, cannot contest for the position of Students’ Union President.

“I watched her deliver her manifesto; it was well presented, well articulated; and she was quite calm and composed. That was in spite of the things that were written to insult and put her down, which were enough to discourage her from coming out the following day. People were using abusive words on her on the social media.

“One positive thing they have done for her, however, is to push her out there. Now she’s not just a name anymore; she has become a face. And that is why we are here today to celebrate her. Project Alert wants to be the first to give this young lady that recognition and platform to exhibit her leadership qualities. Her young voice will not be silenced.”

On ground to present the award to Obi was Nollywood diva and Project Alert’s number one Brand Ambassador, Kate Henshaw-Nuttal, who said she was more excited because Vivian’s action was in line with this year’s International Women’s Day theme of #choosetochalenge, as she rose to challenge gender violence and mental and physical restriction.

The award also came with a cash award/cheque presentation of N100,000, which Effah-Chukwumah said, was to appreciate the sacrifice she made.

Responding, Obi thanked Effah-Chukwuma and her team and expressed her delight for the recognition and award, even as she admitted that meeting and being presented the award by a personality like Henshaw-Nuttal was icing on the cake for her.

Asked what exactly the male cabal in her school had against her, the ever-smiling Obi said, “Being a woman was the problem.”

According to her, even her course-mates, who were at the forefront of her campaign kept reminding them of her sterling qualities, which she had demonstrated right from ND 1 and the fact that if there was anybody who could run for the position of Students Union President and effect positive difference, it was her;  but they were adamant.

“Their argument was that no woman had ever run for the position; they felt more or less like she’s coming to change everything; she’s not going to take orders, she’s stubborn… How can a woman who bends down to urinate come and rule over us…’  It was basically a gender problem, not my ability.”

Speaking of her ability and track record, Obi said she had proven herself beyond doubt, since emerging as the first Miss NFCS (Federation of Catholic Students). “I represent my class in most our courses. I was general course rep in class; I am a member of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI); I am currently one of the Nigerian delegates to the International Youth Diplomacy Conference holding in Ghana later in June. I was the first, the youngest and the only woman to ever be guest speaker at the PDP National Youth Conference last year in Awka, where former Governor Peter Obi and Uche Secondus were among the over 3000 youth audience drawn from across Nigeria. So, my track record was never in doub.

Asked if the hostility wasn’t more about a cabal perpetrating its hold on union’s budget, Obi said, “Maybe. And most times, they host parties and lavish union money on drinks and hotels for the male students; they probably felt I would end that era of free partying.”

Obi seized the opportunity to appreciate her supporters, whom she admitted comprised of a sizable number of men. She also had special word for her ‘godfather, Olebunne Bonaventure, an ex student/ex Students Union executive, whom she said inspired her to go for the top post. “Bonaventure reminded me that the constitution had been reviewed and a lady could now go for the position of president. He also told me that he would only support me if I went for the top position.

THE NATION

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