Grace Atukpa might be visually impaired, but for her, it would take much more than just being blind to keep her away from vigorously exercising her political persuasions and helping her candidate of choice in the upcoming Presidential elections.
Formerly an Administrative intern with the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) where she did her one-year mandatory National youth service, the 27-year-old Nigerian Institute of Journalism first-class graduate is not only showing support for the candidate and party of her choice, but is also registered as party agent under the opposition People’s Democratic Party for the Presidential election come Saturday, February 16, 2019.
In a country where the outcome of electoral violence is not only horrendous, but also one which leaves even the fully abled people vulnerable to its unintended consequences, Grace has chosen to break glass ceiling by delving into the perilous terrain of electoral matters.
She has discussed on why she decides to engage in such risky deal, especially due to the fact of her visually impaired status.
“I am not totally sure if I am the first blind person in Nigeria, or even in the world to be made a party agent, but even if I am, I think it should send some kind of signal about the increasing need for people of all convictions to be actively involved in the politics of their country, and since I have no other country, you cannot convince me not to do what I am doing right now, because it is my future and the future of my unborn children that is at stake here,” said Grace.
Out of the 31 candidates contesting for the exalted office, Grace has decided to mobilize support for the Atiku Abubakar/ Peter Obi candidacy, who she says bequeaths substantial vision, one she can easily connect with and own.
“The current Administration seem to miss out on a critical point, which is that if the economy is well developed, and people can easily eat three square meals a day, access health care, housing, transportation, jobs, and aspire to be whatever they choose to be in life, this will automatically arrest corruption 50%. The rest would then be about the use of Administrative and legal instruments in trying to curb the remaining 50%,” said Grace
She further stated that “Corruption is a global problem and not a strange thing. But the problem with the current Administration is that we treat it as if it were a strange thing, and end up throwing the baby away with the bath water”
Grace, who graduated top of her class at the Nigerian Institute of Journalism revealed that even though there is still need for improvement, Nigerian Youth are slowly, but steadily rising to the fora of political consciousness.
“Whenever I go on social media, I cannot help but notice the growing optimism of young people, many of whom are my friends and former class mate at NIJ about the need to change the current dismal reality of the country and entrench an order that would embrace inclusive growth and development. If it calls for it, I would not mind running for political office someday, but I’ll rather just be an engine that would move the motor of political awareness among young people in Nigeria.”
“As youth, we really do not know that we are entitled to so much right in Nigeria, and yet the current Administration is not helping matters, as it masquerades as a democratic government, yet its behaviour is symptomatic of totalitarian style regimes. Instead of creating more jobs, we keep losing jobs, thereby causing more hardship, and creating more difficulties for young people. I don’t mind risking my comfort, even though my God mother, Dr Grace Achum tried to persuade me not to due to the unforeseen dangers prevalent in Nigerian elections, I assured her that this would be an opportunity to send strong signal of the need for a reasonable change in government affairs, and that I’ll be fine doing it”