The national woman leader of the ruling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), Ramatu Aliyu, has said that the party will not accept the rumoured deputy choice of Yahaya Bello, the Kogi state governor-elect.
The governor-elect has been reported to choose Aisha Audu the ex-wife of the late former Kogi state governor, Abubakar Audu, to work as his deputy - Tijani Aliyu said she is not a party member.
In this exclusive interview with Aderonke Bello of naij.com, she explained and defended the government slowness in policy making by saying they are moving 'slow and steady' instead of 'speed and crash'. She also said she cannot wait to see 'Mama Taraba' sworn in as the first female governor of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Read the excerpts:
Naij.com: Before the elections, a lot of women in Nigeria were looking forward to this administration with hope that it would make a lot of difference in their respective lives. But since the government came up, we have heard less and less about women. What is going on?
Aliyu: Before the elections we campaigned and made promises to the Nigerian women. They believed in us and the voted the party and we came on board. So far, we have about six women on board now in terms of ministerial appointments. We are waiting to see more women in the agencies and parastatals, special advisers, senior special assistants, director-generals, managing directors that would be unveiled soon.
You know the electioneering period basically to convince people. But the implementation part of it is a silent one. You don't make too much noise about it but take actions. Hopefully, Nigerian women would be carried along.
Naij.com: Some notable women were at the forefront during the campaign period for the party. But when the list of ministerial nominees was presented, none of these women were considered despite their passion for women in governance. What is going on?
Aliyu: Come to think of it, we cannot be ministers at the same time. Hopefully, there are other sectors of the economy that would accommodate most of us. Not because we are not ambitious. We could have been ministers as well, but that can't happen at the same time. The president made it categorically clear that he was bringing in technocrats and also carry everybody along. If he had not picked some people, he would have been labelled as not carrying people along. Maybe the women in the party are bearing the brunt now. Hopefully, we will all be accommodated because he is somebody who believes in putting the round pegs in the round holes and square pegs in square holes.
Naij.com: Hajiya Aisha Alhassan (Mama Taraba) has resumed duties as minister of women affairs and she is awaiting a court injunction as the first female governor in Nigeria. To witness such a time given you position, how does that make you feel?
Aliyu: My joy knows no bound. I am so excited that this happened during my regime. On than mandate we stand. If they go to court, we are ready to follow it down to the supreme court. But if they don't, we are waiting for Senator Aisha Jumai Alhassan who has been already declared winner of the election to be sworn in as the first female governor in Nigeria. She has already left her footprints in the sands of time. She is just doing what she is supposed to do as the minister of women affairs but I believe that she is the governor of Taraba state.
Naij.com: What is your relationship with her?..
Cool. A good working relationship. We both understand one another and we are working together as it should be. But I am not excited about her being the minister of women affairs, I am more passionate about seeing her as the governor. I led over a thousand women in a match to her house. My enthusiasm is to see her as the governor of Taraba state. She is also waiting for that day because she is not as excited as being the minister of women affairs because she can do better.
Naij.com: There has been a lot of crisis in the party rising from the Kogi elections and the unfortunate death of Prince Abubakar Audu. What do you think should be done to calm the air given Yahaya Bello' emergence? What is your stand as well as that of the party on this?
Aliyu: I am a Kogite (Kogi indigene) and I will speak to you as the daughter of the soil. Prince Abubakar Audu's death is a great loss to Kogi state, the APC and Nigeria at large. He has been the face of opposition right from 2003. He has contested in about four to five elections but he has been denied of this mandate. Until this last election when he clearly won, and he died.
Looking at the situation because the election was declared inconclusive before his demise. If APC had been declared winner of the election before his demise, Faleke would have assumed the position of governor-elect, that is constitutional. But the constitution and electoral act is silent about when there is a death before the announcement of results. This left us in a kind of quagmire which we has never been experienced in the history of Nigeria. we were left in the hands of the judiciary and INEC for interpretation. but we heard from the attorney-general of the federation that the party should produce a substitution.
The party was trying to avoid playing into the hands of opposition by declaring the deputy governor because they would go to court to contest his election. Faleke was only hand-picked after the primaries. we had to go back to the primaries and Yahaya Bello was chosen because he was the second runner-up to conclude the election. despite the power tussle and struggle, petitions from the deputy governor, INEC, a day before then a verdict was given that the injunction would not be granted because the election must be concluded. but I think they are still in court insisting that the deputy should have been declared.
I am saying that as law-abiding party members, we should obey the rules and let peace reign. there is even that section in the constitution that is you take the party to court, you stand the chance of losing your position as a member except if the party settles the dispute. several attempts have been made despite our inability to settle, but after the elections, we will be meeting again with Falake to plead with him to be more law-abiding and to believe that power belongs to God. If God says he will be the governor of Kogi state, someday, somehow he will get to that position. For now, he should continue to be the deputy governor.
Naij.com: An issue came up this week this week about the deputy-governor elect, Faleke and the wife of late Abubakar Audu, Aisha Audu. That the party is trying to bring Aisha Audu up to work with Yahaya Bello while Faleke is still left hanging. Do you think that is fair? What do you think the party will do at this stage?
I will say this categorically because I have always been an APC person and a founding member of the party, we wrote the constitution of the APC. I moved from ANPP as the national leader into the amalgamation that formed the APC, together we got the logo, flag and broom. Aisha Abubakar Audu is not an APC member, we do not know her within the party. She has never been a part of the APC, she has been in the PDP. If she is joining the party, it has not come to my notice as the number one female in the party, I am not aware.
As a woman, I would have loved to see a female deputy governor especially from northern Nigeria. I would have supported that, but if we are to consider any female from Kogi state, it would be the likes of Halima Alfa who dared, picked her form, contested the primaries before she stepped down for Abubakar Audu. I believe in due process. If we pick her, it would become a muslim-muslim ticket and they wont be that balance because they are all muslims. we need a Christian from a dominant race to cover the vacuum created by Abubakar Audu's death.
Enjoy the video version of the interview. The text edition continues below:
They have produced a minister and so it was okay that Yahaya emerged from the central, then deputy from the west where Faleke is from. There is nothing wrong in sitting with Faleke again to pacify and plead with him except in a condition where he comes up with a letter to decline totally with the party's position. that is when we will begin to think of replacing him with another person. Not for anybody to meet and begin to bribe their way from the villa and national secretariat to be imposed on the people of Kogi state. That is not acceptable. Many have come to my house despite my health condition with various complains. I told them that I have not been officially informed. so we want it to remain as a rumor, and rumor shall it remain.
Naij.com: What if Faleke refuses to continue, do you still think...
Aliyu: No please! we will go straight to those in the party who toiled with that state for goodness sake. They were party people who believed in change. for thirteen years, they never stepped the Lugard house, or presidency because they were waiting for this change. the worked hard for it and they are qualified. Let the new person join the queue please.
Naij.com: Nigerians are waiting for the president to fulfill some of his election promises like the N5,000 which they promised the unemployed youths, improving the power situation and so on. what do you think is happening?
Aliyu: I will like to say this even as a Nigerian that we are so impatient and we forget quickly. Damages done in the past thirteen years cannot be corrected in just six months, these were anomalies that existed and broken the spine of our existence as a nation, corruption has eaten so deep into the fabric of our nation, maladministration was the order of the day, impunity was at its highest mark, lack of social amenities, breakdown of law and order... and you expect all these to be corrected in just six months? we forget easily due to our impatience. it is better things go slow but steady so that the right things would done that to speed and crash.
In the past thirteen years, we didn't only speed crash, they ran us down. we are not taking us back to history, but the correction will also take some time. I want Nigerians to please exercise patience. Yes, most of the agencies and parastatals have not been fixed but if you want to do justice, replace sanity with insanity, you must take time, if you get to a ministry and you find out that the permanent secretary, directors and others are corrupt and you remove them, to clean up the system, that will take time or else, we will run back to the same thing, make the same mistake and the same Nigerians will still complain, so i want to plead with Nigerians to be more tolerant because this is a trying period for us, the hunger, wants, needs and lack is at its highest peak because we inherited this. Nigerians were expecting us to perform magic but we made it clear during the elections that we wont be performing magic but that we were just coming to correct anomalies and it will take some time. But we must not forget that the government we took out is not just watching. some of them are part of this system and they are trying to sabotage it.
For instance, the power supply in Lekki, the man in charge told me that the generator and diesel sellers in the area discovered that they were not selling so they contributed money to bribe them so that they can effect power seizure not long, people began to buy diesel in drums and they went back to the generators. How is that the problem of the president or his administration?
Until Nigerians begin to look at the system as part of them and they as part of the government, that is when we will be able to effect that correction, we must realize that the job is not just for the government.
Naij.com: As the president of the women wing for the prestigious council of African political affairs, what have you been able to do for political parties in general?
Aliyu: I emerged the president of African Political parties (women wing), in an election in Katung after which I have been able to visit about three countries now advocating. we organised conferences, seminars in South Africa, Sudan and Addis-Ababa. I am also a standing member of the International Council of African Political Parties (ICAPP) worldwide. we attended a conference in Beijing, China. we will be due to go to Kuala Lampur, in Malaysia next week for another conference. Most of these is on advocacy, enlightenment, bringing in people with the know-how to developing African countries to embark on capacity building and developmental projects that would enhance and better the life of women like teaching them how to make tie and dye, agriculture, poultry and so on. in Niger, where we taught women some of these things, they were so excited because they were not exposed to these things, it is becoming a way of life because some of these places are so poor.
When we went to Senegal, given my position, we have been able to opportunity given to African women and that of the developed world. In China, the men and women are almost at per, so much so that they no longer talk about women right. These I have seen and I have helped to move African women out of the cocoon. We have been given the right to host the Council of African Political Parties which is slated for January in Nigeria. It was supposed to be in December but I pleaded with them to give us some time because of the new government which just took over power over six months ago. This was done with the hope that I would be able to attend the event with the president, minister of women affairs, minister of tourism and foreign affairs so that we can host them in a big way. so as to change their perception about Nigeria which has infringed on the rights of women over the years. Most of them believe that this administration is not gender friendly. To let them know that Nigerian women enjoy political freedom using myself as an example. I was the first vice chairman of a political party in Nigeria, before I became the national women leader. Nigeria is quiet big with a highly competitive political space.
So many questions also came out about the Chibok girls that were kidnapped, the role of Nigerian women and the government. As the APC women national leader even though we were not in government then, most of our women were responsible for the demonstrations and matching and quiet movements of the bring back our girls now and alive, so far so good, African women have a lot coming on board, many African countries signed a pact with the Chinese government. when that kick starts, it would lead to poverty alleviation and wealth would be created and they would be a market for every business.