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Tuesday, June 18, 2024

I suffered from speech apraxia as a child – Journalist-author Sydney-Jack

Dr. Adora Onyechere Sydney-Jack is a gender advocate and an experienced broadcaster who also anchored the AIT morning magazine TV show, Kaakaki. She is also the author of a book titled, ‘Politics, Pu..y & Power.’

In this encounter with JOKE KUJENYA, she projects her strong thoughts on challenges facing the girl child and other diverse issues.

Breaking barriers and overcoming adversity
Adora describes how she had fought to overcome significant challenges during her journey to becoming a notable broadcast journalist. She said she had once been stalled by a mild form of speech apraxia during her childhood years.

Speech apraxia is a neurological disorder that makes it difficult for someone to speak fluently, as it impairs the brain’s ability to plan and sequence speech movements accurately. It makes one think that one might not be able to move the lips or tongue the right way to say sounds. And sometimes, you might not be able to speak at all. In medicine, apraxia of speech is sometimes called acquired apraxia of speech, verbal apraxia, or dyspraxia.

Adora says while pursuing her A Levels and undergraduate studies in the United Kingdom, she underwent speech-language therapy and language counselling to overcome the hurdles.

the shrinking spaces for women in leadership roles limits their capacity to break barriers

With the support of mentors during her therapy, she developed the determination to break the biases against learning disabilities. And that’s why today, she continues to volunteer her time to provide speech training therapy to young ladies facing similar challenges, aiming to boost their self-esteem.

Girl-child’s challenges in Nigeria
As an advocate of gender equality, Adora stresses the importance of challenging stereotypes and biases that limit opportunities for the girl-child in Nigerian society. She emphasizes that the society, now better developed, must unlearn those biases that had been deeply embedded in culture, education, and social norms. According to her, the girl-child must be encouraged to have faith in her abilities and the belief that anything is possible, and be also provided with an enabling environment to thrive.

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Obstacles to advancement
She identifies lack of mentorship, access to quality education, healthcare, and the lack of protective laws as major obstacles to the healthy advancement of the girl-child, as she highlights the shrinking spaces for women in leadership roles, limiting their capacity to break barriers.

Nigerian politics is driven by transactional approach that prioritizes monetary interests over merit and capacity

Unveiling the dark Side of politics
The author, in her book Politics, Pu…y & Power, says she aims to expose the deeply rooted norms that threaten womanhood, leadership and the hidden aspects of politics, drawing from her experience participating in elections and running for public office. And that’s why she takes a critical look at the challenges faced by women in politics, she said.

Transactional nature of Nigerian politics
For the broadcaster, Nigerian politics is largely driven by what she calls ‘a transactional approach’ that prioritizes monetary interests over merit and capacity. She says she sees the country’s political landscape as dominated by money politics, a pursuit of power at any cost, and a decline in values, all of which pose a debilitating threat to democracy in Nigeria.

Impact of political aspirations
Having once aspired to represent her constituency in the House of Representatives, Adora says the experience and the journey have greatly influenced her narrative in her book. “In fact, I am currently working on another book that delves deeper into my political experience,” she discloses.

gender advocacy strives to normalize the idea that women’s rights are human rights

Women in politics
“I have observed that women’s participation in Nigerian elective politics and public office is challenging, with gender parity far from being achieved,” Adora says. For this anomaly, she expresses hope that the current administration will demonstrate the political will to pass gender-friendly bills, implement the National Gender Policy, and activate gender quotas within political parties.

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Vision for her book
“My book aims to bring about a change of mindset, demystify and reorient negative gender identities, foster generational collaboration, and affirm the power of womanhood,” Adora informs.

Gender advocacy and feminism
She emphasizes that gender advocacy strives to normalize the idea that women’s rights are human rights, and that women should be integrated into all sectors of society. She sees feminism as a state of money, emphasizing that anyone who supports equal opportunities for women is, in essence, a feminist for the fact that, gender equality and inclusivity are essential goals that should unite us all.

Joke Kujenya
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