Nollywood actress Carolyna Hutchings. Image via High Street
Vanessa Obioha seeks appropriate response from Nollywood actress, Carolyna Hutchings, on her bid to become Deputy Governor of Akwa Ibom State on the platform of the African Action Congress
Would you agree that the EndSARS protests brought out the political side of many personalities in the entertainment space and, perhaps, is responsible for their increasing number seeking an active role in politics and governance?
I would not totally agree to this. A lot of people in the entertainment industry have always participated in politics, #ENDSars, however, was one of the major moments for everyone. I think it also is a combination of generational uprising and global connectedness. The world has become a global village and best practices in leadership and governance are demanded for by young people especially.
Do you think the way institutionalized politics is conceptualized in Nigeria favors an actor, like you?
I would like to correct this narrative, first of all I am the CEO of Hutchings LTD, a construction company and an oil and gas company. I build homes, I service the upstream sector, acting is a talent turned into my third profession. I am more of a builder and an oil and gas guru than I am an actor. However, I understand your question from the prism of visibility. Politics favors anyone that is willing to serve the country and can demonstrate that they can and have created positive and lasting change. I have been in the people service industry for a long time with my NGO Hopeville Foundation where we give support to women in several areas including business, healthcare, education, feeding, etc. With political success, I will be able to scale these services to the great people of Akwa Ibom state in particular.
Do you think there will be political repercussions in Akwa Ibom and elsewhere in Nigeria that may dethrone the old order and benefit freshers in the political space?
To be honest, we are not particular about dethronements or drawing lines of battles with any orders, we are all about good governance, credibility and effectiveness to leadership delivery, inclusive prosperity and collective development. This is why we are getting in the race primarily. The other effects are just secondary. We are tired of recycled faces and the same old lines that have no effect on the development of Akwa Ibom state. It will be a good thing for Akwa Ibom if fresh, educated, skilled minds, technocrats and professionals, could take up political leadership and do things differently from the norm. We want lasting change, improvement in all areas of government, we want innovation. No more procrastination, we want to get the task done. We have lost so much resources and opportunities because of the same old routines. It is time to remodel the plans and make it more effective and long lasting.
In acting, actors tell stories to convey the import of their messages. What are the prevailing stories in Akwa Ibom that can turn the table in favour of the African Action Congress (AAC)?
I believe Akwa Ibom people are tired of the norm, hence our call for young people to stand up and demand for better: good governance and the end of endemic corruption. The prevailing narrative is the dearth of jobs and employment opportunities for young people in the State. There is a great absence of opportunities while poverty and unemployment are powerful forces wrecking havoc there. Meanwhile, we have vast human capital and resources to turn things around. The numbers are not good when you look at our ranking in all indices including adequate healthcare availability, access to quality education, food security, MSME support, payments of salaries and emoluments, etc, the issues are all in the news. Akwa Ibom has always been a one way one party system since 1999 and I think this time around, AAC is presently an opportunity, asking Akwa ibomites to do things differently if they expect a different result. To look beyond party affiliations and more on individuals capacities and capabilities.
Tell us a personal narrative that inspired you to run for office?
Personally I fight against injustice. It breaks my heart to see people suffer and I witness this everyday, it is all around me since I could remember. People work so hard, some die not achieving anything, while some are struggling in abject poverty. I believe in empowerment, I like to see others win while I win, when things are going well for me and someone around me is suffering, it makes me uncomfortable personally. Like I mentioned earlier, I run an NGO, from my personal resources, I know what I see or hear on a daily basis, I know how much I spend from the profit I make from my job, it is never enough. The suffering keeps increasing, it is very heartbreaking. I am tired of seeing people suffer. I am inspired to make a change in the lives of people, especially in the lives of the people of Akwa Ibom state.
How well do you know know your governorship candidate and what areas of cooperation are available to both of you?
I know him well enough. I have extensively studied Mr. iboro Otu’s political ideologies – most of which are online – and I must say his philosophies resonate greatly with mine. We have interacted extensively on our ideals and there are a lot of points of cooperation with regards to our different capabilities. One that stands out is our love for people and love for education. We both run NGOs to support people and have very sound educational backgrounds. We want Akwa Ibom people to have the same access we had to quality education and better outcomes with their lives in whatever pursuit they may have. Another is in effective leadership and good governance, attracting and working with great minds. We both understand the importance of assembling great teams, we both are good at that and this is what Akwa Ibom really needs at the moment. Leaders with deep hearts than deep pockets. I believe we both make an effective team!
You have never been known to use your fame to raise awareness for a particular issue, do you think this may count against you?
Obviously you have never followed my story because this is very untrue. Those who have followed my movement know I have always spoken against injustice. I have protested for Nigerians enslaved in Libya, the pictures are on Google. I have fought for the Ayeni conjoined twins, during #ENDSars I boldly called out a current presidential candidate. We have fed thousands of people, empowered women businesses and given medical support to women. The first time Lekki toll increment commenced, I was one of the first persons to kick against it publicly cause I felt it will take a toll on people already struggling to survive. I have spoken up against police brutality, against students sitting at home because of the ASUU strike and so much more. I have always used my voice to speak out against injustice. You should follow my movement.
Are you ready to lose your freedom by belonging to a political party and are you ready to meet the masses?
Serving your country and making the lives of people around you better is not losing your freedom. I have never lost my freedom by helping people, it is a part of my calling, it is exactly what I am supposed to do. Do you know how many people I attend to on a daily basis through my NGO? The many people that look up to me for help? They are part of the masses. I am here to serve, to speak on their behalf. I’m here to walk through this journey with them. The issues of this country affect us all. It is a great joy to surrender myself to make this country a better place for us all.