Hajiya Ramatu Tijjani Aliyu, is the national Woman Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC). In this interview with Maryam Garba Hassan, the former ANPP Woman Leader and staunch politician talked about report on the scrapping of the First Lady’s office by the party’s Presidential flag bearer, the 35% affirmative action of the ruling party, strategies put in place by the APC female candidates among other issues.
Recently, General Muhammadu Buhari was quoted to have said he will scrap the office of the First lady when he becomes Nigeria’s President, an issue that the First lady is using against him. What is the true position of the party’s flag bearer in this regard?
I will say this on a clear term that the First Lady, Patience Jonathan, is only misinterpreting what the Presidential flag bearer of the APC said in that regard. I will not say she is misinterpreting him because she quite well understood what he said. He was talking about the office of the First Ladies’ are being misused just like she is doing by interfering between her office and that of the Presidency which is constitutionally recognized worldwide. She deliberately and maliciously turned it all round to suit their purpose and redeem the lost glory of the PDP. He was clear about the misuse of the office of the First Lady’ and the total abuse of that office. He said the women that won the election in different capacities should be allowed to exercise their duties without any interference from the first ladies at the national and states levels. We have the office of the Minister of Women Affairs which the First Lady has automatically taken over. So, it is this kind of thing he is talking about not the scrapping of the office of the first lady. His statement to that effect which was misconstrued as relegating the Nigerian women to the background is wrong. Can a man be appointed as Minister of Women Affairs Ministry if women are relegated to the background? All General Muhammadu Buhari has said was if his wife will be that kind of interfering body then he is saying no to the power abused by such office because that is not the way to go about it. The truth of the matter is that the first lady is interfering in the affairs that do not concern her without control.
Women involvement in the party in is low, especially at the national level. What is responsible for this?
There are women in the party but across the nation we do not have women in party structure which is what APC is trying to change. You may not be able to compare it vis –avis the ruling party which is a kind of jamboree thing where you have women randomly selected in different capacity. APC is grooming women within the party structure. Women are coming up as serious card carriers of the party not like in the PDP where you have only few women delegates which led to Sarah Jibril’s decimal performance in 2011 but that is changing in the APC where you have so many Special Advisers, Commissioners etc, in that capacity.
What is the ratio of female candidates in the party?
The primaries have just been concluded and the results are turning in gradually, but so far, we have succeeded in becoming the first party to produce a female gubernatorial aspirant in Taraba State in the person of Aisha Alhassan.
It was alleged that General Buhari recently denied a female candidate in Taraba State even though a statement denying it was issued by the party in the state. What is the true situation of the matter?
No, that is far from it. The APC is a party that has vowed to obey the Constitution of the country and respect party supremacy. Primaries took place in the state before Senator Aisha Alhassan emerged the gubernatorial flag bearer of the party in the state and that primary is not in any where contentious. A body was set and they went to Taraba to conduct the primaries, so, how can General Buhari deny her? I don’t think there is any petition from Taraba challenging Aisha’s victory at the primaries.
What are the strategies put in place to ensure more women are carried along when APC wins the general elections come February?
Earlier, I made a statement telling you that it is the structure of a party that gives women upper hand in politics. We have gotten so many women to be party card carriers. The structure built by a party is what makes many women to become the party card carriers and these women in various capacities are competent. They are many and coming on board not the jamboree kind of women. These women will bring succor to the down trodden.
What are those new things APC is offering Nigerian women as the ruling party had promised them 35 per cent affirmative action?
35 per cent affirmative action is a global thing likewise women emancipation and gender. The PDP said they are giving 35 per cent affirmative action to Nigerian women but what we have presently is about 14. 5 per cent even as the Nigerian women are yearning for that 35 per cent. If PDP had done that with all sincerity of purpose and not by randomly selecting women to the top, we would have gone places. We would have been away from the scandals we are seeing today. The APC government is good governance. When you give good education to the children of the nation, good health care delivery, ensure security where our children can go to school freely without the fear of been killed or maimed, constant light where you do your business etc, that will go a long way in enhancing the peace that comes with the 35 % affirmative action. What is the noise we hear every day about their 35 per cent affirmative action when we cry every day, when many of the nations’ women have been rendered widows and their children orphaned? We have seen the abduction of many of our school children in Chibok who are nowhere to be found months after their abduction by the insurgents.
We are prioritizing the Girl Child education and to teach them to realize who they are and the so called appointed women by the PDP are still celebrating with them when their fellow women are crying, their men are being killed and children and the girls are still missing without any trace.
How prepared are the party women for the general elections?
If you can feel the pulse, the realization of what we feel with the incumbent government of the day. The lack of interest for the development of the country, the bloodshed and incessant snuffing of lives of citizens and destruction of property, has made the women more than ready for the forth coming general elections. This is about our rights to freedom, lives, peace and our children. Today, every woman in this nation sleep with one eye closed because she is afraid of being killed or her daughters taken away.
Some years ago the PDP launched a Political Trust Fund to assist female politicians who have financial challenge in realizing their political ambition. Does your party have such arrangement for its female card carriers?
Yes within the party there is such arrangement. The forms for all offices were made free for women at all levels. Let me remind you that what the PDP did was in conjunction with the UNDP and the Institute of Democratic Studies and it was not just for the PDP but for our collective efforts this happened when I was the national leader of the ANPP and I was also involved in the programme.
A number of the party members decamped from the ruling party which your party said its ideologies are undemocratic. With this new development don’t you think the party is a duplicate of the PDP?
That is the beauty of democracy. The party’s Constitution or manifesto stated that the party supremacy must come to bear that the PDP ideology is undemocratic. The members are human and must act the scripts of the party. It is the party is that lacks human face and sincerity not all of the members. We are accommodating them because there is freedom of association. Every Nigerian that is ready to embark on the journey to rescue Nigerians from the cluelessness of the ruling party is welcome on board but we must act.