By Stanley Onyekwere
For many political watchers, October 5, 2019, was a day popularity and clout of the FCT Minister of State, Dr. Ramatu Tijjani Aliyu was put to test as her people of Lokoja and its environs in their thousands thronged the streets to welcome their illustrious daughter home.
The occasion was a grand reception in honour of Dr. Ramatu Tijjani Aliyu, over her appointment as FCT Minister of State by President Muhammadu Buhari, organised by the First Lady of Kogi State, Mrs. Rashida Yahaya Bello, in Government House Lokoja, the state capital.
On that day, the good people of Lokoja have to jettison other private engagements to welcome and demonstrate their unflinching support and loyalty for their daughter, an Amazon of Nigeria politics.
As early as 7.30am, indigenes of Lokoja have defiled the boisterous weather and gathered at Akpanya a few kilometres from Lokoja town to receive their amiable daughter whom they described as a horine.
Unsurprisingly, the mammoth crowd that came out overwhelmed the entourage of the Minister as security operatives attached to the convoy of the Minister were faced with challenges of crowd control and management.
After exchanging pleasantries with her people, the entourage drove straight to Lokoja town when she commissioned Ramatu Tijjani Aliyu Okun Constituency Office for Governor Yahaya Bello 2019, christened RTA Okun Constituency Office for GYB 2019.
After interactive session with the officials of the campaign team, the convoy drove to the palace of Maigarin Lokoja (Lakwaja), Alh. Muhammed Kabir Maikarfi 111, to seek royal blessings and counsels that will guide her in her national assignment.
While addressing residents at the palace, the Minister expressed gratitude to President Muhammadu Buhari for finding her worthy to be a member of his cabinet as Minister of State for FCT. She also thanked the entire people of Lokoja for coming out in their thousands to receive her and her entourage.
According to her; “This is home to me. So it is not new to me that my people decided to welcome me this way, but I will tell you that I am still more delighted that they picked me by surprise and I am proud of them.
“This is the very first time after a very long time that ministerial appointment is coming to this local government and you can see that everybody is overwhelmed with joy to receive me. But as they say “to whom much is given much is expected”, so to me this is a daunting task. There is a responsibility for me to carry on the shoulder to hold the trust for the people and here I am their servant”.
Interestingly at the monarch’s palace, she was accorded a red carpet reception befitting of prince and princess. Horse riders adored in colourful costumes, various cultural troops, market men and women came out to display in honour of Dr. Ramatu Tijjani Aliyu, the Zinariyan Lakwaja, meaning the “Gold of Lokoja.”
Dignitaries from all walks of life including Senator Smart Adeyemi, commissioners, serving members of Kogi State House of Representatives and Heads of Departments and Agencies of the Federal Capital Territory Administration graced the occasion.
And from the opinion of many residents of Lokoja, it was a mother of all receptions put together by the First Lady of Kogi State, Hajia Rashida Yahaya Aliyu, to honour the FCT Minister of State, Dr. Ramatu Tijjani Alliyu, over her appointment and her contributions towards the enhancement of women in Nigeria.
At the Glass House Lokoja, venue of the reception, it was clear to visitors that the FCT Minister of State is indeed the Zinariyan Lakwaja and Amazon of note. The hall was filled to capacity. Speaker after speakers extolled the virtues of the FCT Minister of State.
In his remarks, Governor Yahaya Bello affirmed that 55 percent of women that cast their ballots for President Muhammadu Buhari during the 2019 general elections could be traced to the efforts of FCT Minister of State, Dr. Ramatu Tijjani Aliyu.
The governor also described the Minister as a bridge builder and skillful mobilizer that deserves honour both at home and national level, adding that her ministerial appointment was not a surprise to many supporters of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The governor who was represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Mrs. Shade Ayoade, maintained that the Minister has strengthened the place of women in the party’s dynamics and used it as a platform to effectively market the party’s programmes as it relates to women empowerment and development.
Bello, also applauded the poverty alleviation programmes initiated by the Minister in rural communities, noting that she used her platform to strengthen marginalized communities by placing emphasis on poverty alleviation programmes that would reduce poverty.
“A woman of relentless vigour, she initiated a grassroot women mobilization machinery with a penetrating door-to-door campaign in private homes in the six-geo political zones of the country as a strategic effort to market unique selling points of the APC presidential flag bearer and his running mate.
“To complement the gains of her insight, Hajiya Ramatu mounted a vigorous outreach programme with market women right inside their respective stalls and trade posts in virtually all the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
“An avowed crusader, she visited homes of notable leaders of various ethnic tribal associations in strategic parts of the country from Sokoto through Ile-Ife to Uyo, extolling the virtues of Gen. Buhari’s antecedents as a bridge builder with consummate passion for a new Nigeria of equal opportunity for all, especially the women.
“It is therefore not surprising that over 55% of the electorate, who elected Gen. Muhammadu Buhari as president, we’re women. A most telling endorsement of her tireless efforts in the emergence of Nigeria’s 4th elected president,” Bello stressed.
On her part, wife of the governor, Hajia Rashida Yahaya Bello, commended the Minister for her efforts toward promoting women participation in politics, while describing her as a role model and pacesetter.
She, therefore, urged women to embrace politics of peace, love, unity and shun politics of thuggery and hate speeches.
As expected, the FCT Minister thanked the government and people of the state for the warm reception accorded her, just as she promised to be a crusader by serving the people of Kogi as their servant.
As she succinctly captured: “Today is indeed a very memorable day I will never forget in a hurry. Perhaps not in my entire life because I got celebrated by those who matter to me most. Those that have seen me grow and seen me through my political struggles.
“I have nothing to say than to say thank you to them especially our mother, the wife of Kogi State Governor who put this night together.”