The former C.E.O. of the Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture, Matafeo Falanaipupu Tanielu Aiafi has chosen politics as his new career path.
His contract as a C.E.O. came to an end in November last year.
Running from the Faleata Urban seat for the Human Rights Protection Party, Matafeo said he chose politics because this is where the spirit of the Lord has led him.
“I am a very spiritual person and I never aspired to go into parliament but when the time came for me at the end of my contract on the 4th of November, that was the time I had to look at the future and decide where I will be going,” he said.
“[And] I guess that’s where the spirit came to me and whispered to me to have a look at this.”
Matafeo said as a C.E.O. he could only do so much, but in parliament, he will be able to assist in many areas that need work.
“In parliament, that’s where decisions are made and so while I am still passionate about education, I thought I would take a different path to drive education now that I have been at this level,” he said.
“So I am not stepping out of education, it’s just that I am now aspiring to work at a different level where it will have a bigger impact because this is where legislation and policies are made.”
To win the election, Matafeo said he had a lot of things in mind.
“I will still be pushing for education, because we need a well educated population and it’s a prosperous country and we have a lot of problems now because of the lack of education,” he said.
“So I would like to drive education for all to make sure that a lot of gaps in the system are resolved and addressed.
“I would also like to help out with the challenges in health. We have a lot of problems in the health sector. When I have been out to schools I have noticed that the hygiene standards of some of the children, are very poor.
“Youth unemployment is also one of my goals because there are a lot of people out of jobs and it’s causing a lot of crimes and social problems.
“I am also concerned about the elderly.”
He said he had a lot of ideas to push improvements and development if he won the election. “We need to find opportunities for the youth For example we can attach centres to colleges providing a second chance education for the young adults who have dropped out and give opportunities to the youth who have the potential and the skills but no jobs. Here in town, maybe attach a centre at Vaimauga College for them to develop their skills or even do elei or carvings and then sell them to get money to help them. “We can also deploy them to go as seasonal workers because there are so many opportunities.
“As for the elderly people, I would like them to enjoy their retirement.
“I know there are funds from the government like the pension and all of that, but we still need to look at improving that.”
These are some of the issues Matafeo said he would raise with the government.
“I have to make a noise because I would be there to speak on behalf of the people and so we have to make sure that government hears about the challenges that these people are facing,” he said.
“I will be the voice of these people in there because in parliament there needs to be outspoken people to speak up so that the government will help.
“We need to improve their pension maybe look at some ways to increase their pension and also look at other benefits to help them. Or we can ask if we can setup a free centre for them to go and relax in on a daily basis, play cards or dominos, or have prayer meeting whatever they do that will make them happy.
“I will try to instigate programmes to improve general hygiene for the people and support the health activities that are currently happening.
“There are a lot of things that need to be pushed in health and so we need to enforce the policies and the activities that have already been set up by the health sector.”
Matafeo said he has confidence in the Lord. “Wherever the Lord calls me to I’ll be happy to go and so whatever the outcome will be, I will be thankful to the Lord, so I’m not worried,” he said.
And would there be any conflict with him running for H.R.P.P. while his brother Lealailepule Rimoni Aiafi runs for Tautua Party.
Matafeo said no.
“Outside of parliament we will still be brothers but inside parliament we’ll be totally opposite,” he said.
“I will stand for my H.R.P.P. and he stands for his Tautua.
“We have to be professional and we have to understand the purpose of why we went in there and it’s not for us, but we have to contribute to the development of the country.
“God has a plan for everyone and I totally believe in that and I’m confident in His grace that whatever happens in the election, that’s okay because life goes on and God will always have a plan for all of us.” Matafeo is married to Nipe Aiafi and he has six children.