Her voice tore through the seminar room as she narrated her experience in politics. She is a believer, politician, rights activists and a family woman. In 2011, Onome Denedo vied for an elective position in Abia State on the platform of the Africa Renaissance Party. But she got to a point in her political career she could not proceed; she had to give in her quest instead of compromising her faith.
“That is the challenge in playing politics in this part of the world. I had won the primaries, and also won the election but the powers that be frustrated the whole process because I would not compromise my faith. They wanted me to do things that is totally against my faith in Jesus and I felt rather than fall for the trap I would give up my quest.”
Denedo who shared her experience at a workshop organized by Priest Peace and Justice a non-governmental organization that promotes Christian values, said her motivation to go into politics was her conviction that she could make a difference. She had worked as a journalist and also been into business. She came to the conclusion that “It is not enough to believe in prayers. One should also be actively involved. But then it seems to me that the terrain is a tough one for believers. There was the case of another woman who had to give up her quest when men were making advances at her. Her success in politics was predicated on the number of men she was willing to sleep with. But she did not compromise and had abandoned her quest too. It was that bad. If people are not tempted with immorality they are faced with cultic suggestions and enticement. That is why people say politics is a dirty game.”
Despite her experience she believes women should not be deterred from playing politics. “Women should always try and try. I believe one day the coast will be cleared and there will be a level playing field. But then the church has to be positively involved and get more people to participate in the political process.”
The story of Denedo however goes deeper than politics. She recalled in a later chat with this reporter that she was deep in sin before she came to the knowledge of Christ. The irony however was that she was born to parents who were leaders in the church.
“When people say it’s not possible for children of pastors to go astray I just marvel because I am a testimony to the fact that no matter how strong a parent is in faith their children could still go astray. In my own case my parents were in fact founding members of the Christian Pentecostal Ministry. My father was a pastor, my mother a deaconess and mother in Israel. My two brothers are pastors. My elder sister pastor. I was in the youth choir too. We were taught the ways of the Lord. My parents lived the life. But I still went against all they stood for lived a rough life before Jesus found me.”
Though she was already grown up before her father surrendered to Jesus, she recalled, “My father was quite influential. He worked with the American Embassy. He was one of the engineers that built the Eko Le Meridian Hotel. By every standard my father was quite wealthy. He was the host of Jimmy Carter the former American president when he came to Nigeria in the 70s. He was okay very okay. But he lived a reckless life of womanizing and all sorts. The amazing thing is that when my father got born again he did a 360 turn around. His life changed dramatically. He stopped manhandling my mum the way he used to. He stopped womanizing. So I saw Jesus’ life in my father. But then that did not stop me from going astray.”
On what led her away from the path of salvation, she explained, “When I finished secondary school I did secretarial studies and subsequently secured a job with an oil company. I became secretary to the MD of the oil company. I was paid a big salary. That got into my head and I began to live a reckless life. I smoked drank, partied, tried drugs. At a point my parents gave me ultimatum to change or leave home. I left home and really lived a wild life. But prayers brought me back.”
While noting that parents would give account for the life of their children she said, “It is not for parents to pontificate about their children. “Parents should know they are custodians of their children, have faith that when they go astray God will bring them back.”
In the midst of the riotous life she lived, Denedo noted that prayers were being offered on her behalf and God was always intervening in her life to bring her back to faith. “The first day I tried drugs I almost went mad. I would have been walking around as a mad woman. But God intervened because some people were praying. One of my cousins was particularly committed to praying for me. He was to later tell me he saw warrior angels with the sword that has been assigned from heaven to keep me till I retrace my step back to Jesus. And I did. By the time I came know Jesus personally my life changed instantly. It soon dawned on me that my initial romance with the church was more of religion. I did not really know the Lord in the true sense. But by the time I came to full realization of my wretchedness in sin and confessing my sin and embracing his saving grace I can spot the difference.”
Now, she is committed to spreading the word of His grace to all who cared to listen and to lead as many to Jesus.