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Wednesday, 11 April 2018

WE'LL MAKE PROGRESS AS A NATION WHEN MORE WOMEN ARE IN POLITICS - DR RAMATU TIJANI ALIYU (APC WOMAN LEADER)


APC National Woman Leader, Dr. Ramatu Tijani Aliyu, is an embodiment of beauty and brain. A stylish personality, Dr Tijani Aliyu believes a woman has a special place and role to play in the society. She also believes that no matter how beautiful and highly placed a woman may be, her duties at home are very important. 
In this interview with PAUL UKPABIO, she shares with us values and attributes that took her to the top, the things that have kept her at the top and how women can improve their lots in politics and at the home front.

How did your early life influence the person that you are today?

I think my early life has influenced me in more ways than one. I grew up in a home where discipline and handwork were the order of the day. My father (May his blessed soul rest in peace) was an astute educationist who did not compromise on the values of hard work, honesty, decency and patriotism. While My mom was a business woman who embodied enterprise and independence; instead of always waiting for her husband to provide. All of these values by the grace of the Almighty have shaped the woman I have become today. Your educational background? I attended Dawaki Primary School in Niger State following which I gained admission into the Federal Government College Minna. Subsequently I secured admission into the prestigious Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, where I graduated with a degree in Urban and Regional Planning.

I have since acquired a master’s degree in Public Administration and I am currently doing my Ph.D in Security and Strategic Studies from the same institution. 

What do you think influenced the choice of your being the APC woman Leader?

Well, it’s not a choice per se but the will of the APC delegates from across the country. They saw a woman who represented a clean break from the era of women leaders who were merely appendages and could not take a stand for the interest of the women. Our party leaders also saw in me a product worth buying and gave me their unconditional support and I thank everybody for the faith reposed in me. 

For the benefit of those who do not know, can you tell us some of the roles that you play in the party? 

As the National Woman Leader of the APC, I primarily represent the interest of all women, particularly APC women. As a leading female voice I am continually liaising with my male colleagues to ensure that gender mainstreaming takes a foothold within our party; from the policies and actions of the party to constitutional amendments whenever the party embarks on any. By virtue of my office, I am a member of the party’s caucus as well as the National Executive Council (NEC). As the focal person of the APC women wing, I am also responsible for the coordination and mobilization of women towards victory at the polls. 

Just last week, you had a NEC meeting at the State House. Were you pleased with the outcome?

It doesn’t matter whether I am or not. What matters is the overall interest of the party. Being a member of the APC NEC, I should ordinarily be for the elongation of our tenure in order to avoid the problems associated with the conduct of such conventions. However, the President and other leaders of the party have sought legal counsel and deemed it wise to reconsider the elongation in order to forestall avoidable violations of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. 

I will always stand for the interest of party. Your party is in government. 

So now that you are in the corridors of power, and seeing it all, in what ways would you say that women can be relevant in today’s political situation? 

If by being in the corridors of power you mean the unprecedented power some women used to wield in the previous administrations, then you are mistaken. That can never happen under President Muhammadu Buhari.

Nonetheless, women have played and will continue to play a vital role in our politics. A good proportion of the electorate with whom sovereignty lies are women. I think the next step is to have more women as card-carrying members of the major political parties in the country. This will then make it easier to have more women contest and win elections both as party officials (not just as women leaders) and as public officers. 

There is a clamour for more female appointments in government, are you okay with the male/female ratio in present day public offices?

Progress has been made in terms of women appointments but a lot more improvement can still be made in that regard. We are not saying overnight we want a 50/50 arrangement. But significant progress in terms of identifying and recognizing women who have distinguished themselves and contributed positively to the formation of the government at all levels can still be made.

You only need to look at other African countries who have taken the issue of gender inclusion very seriously to appreciate how much progress we’ll make as a nation if we do not deprive women of their dues.


What influenced you to join politics? 

I know it may sound like a cliche but it’s simply the passion to serve my country and make a difference whenever and wherever I can. 

How did your husband or family feel when they heard about your election? 

Well they felt proud and happy, but certainly not surprised (Laughs). 

Can you describe yourself?

I’d like to think I am a very down to earth, courageous, hardworking, selfless, patriotic and God-fearing woman. I’m also a tastefully fashionable person and in the political circle, I’m unflinchingly loyal.

In line with the aspirations of your party, do you foresee a better tomorrow for women? 

Without a shadow of a doubt I do. But like I highlighted earlier, we must get more women actively participating in the internal workings of the APC. Let’s put our strongest 11 forward and make it difficult for anybody to sideline us on the basis of incompetence or a lack of know how.

The truth is, nothing will be given to us on a platter; let’s therefore demonstrate that we have earned the right to be taken seriously all the time (and not just for campaigns) 

As a busy, hardworking woman, do you still find time to go to the kitchen to cook? 

Every now and then, yes. My family understands the nature of my job and thankfully, I have people around me who have picked up valuable tips from me on how to prepare various delicacies. 

Nonetheless, I like to go back and take charge from time to time in order to show them I am still the boss (Laughs). 

What is your view about fashion and how do you describe fashion? 

For me, fashion is simplicity and elegance. It is not how expensive but how receptive your persona is to a particular style or apparel. I like to play around with simple fabrics to create something elegant. Often times I recycle my old fabrics and yet come up with something that is unique and modest. What is important is that you must be comfortable and satisfied with your sense of fashion.

What determines the clothes you wear in a day?

Usually the occasion or function I am attending will largely influence my choice of dressing on a given day. I’ll generally ask myself the following questions: Who am I meeting or who are the audience? Where (their religion or culture), when (dry or harmattan season) and what (my purpose of visit). In all instances, certain themes run through, that is, simplicity, elegance and modesty. What fashion accessories like necklaces and so on, will you not do without? There’s actually no fashion item I can’t do without. But I usually have my earrings on, no matter how simple they are. 

How do you describe success? 

Essentially, when I think success I think fulfillment. Not just materially but emotionally and spiritually. Once these other components are missing then it becomes momentary success which for me is not worth the trouble. What do you value most? I keep my values. I’ve grown up all my life holding unto them and I will not trade them for anything in the world. My values keep me in touch with my conscience and my faith. Nothing is more important. 

When you met your husband, was it love at first sight?


If what we felt at the time was also love then yes. But I think what fortified it was the effort, patience and trust we had in each other. Because for sure, it kept growing day after day until it became an open secret that we were destined to spend the rest of our lives together. 

How are you coping with office pressure and challenges? 

For me, pressure and challenges come with the territory and I am not too bothered by it. My real challenge, and one which I relish, is the need to build coalition and consensus amongst our women. This is borne out of my fervent belief that together we are stronger and can achieve more. We must put aside petty issues and face the real obstacles to our progress. 

As a woman, do you think politics is a dirty game? 

Yes. But I also believe that the fact that politics is dirty does not mean good people cannot come in and try to make a difference by doing things differently.

Of course good people will always find it more difficult to survive in the murky waters of Nigerian politics, but if that is the price we have to pay to make things better, then so be it. 

Having worked with women from different parts of the country, what will you say that Nigerian women really want, first from the government and then from their husbands? 

From the government, I would say a level playing field. Too often we seem to be competing with men in the same field but on different parameters. We often have to do twice as much to be recognized and this needs to change. If a woman can do a job, give it to her regardless that she’s a woman. On the other hand, all we require from our spouse is support and understanding. Simple If you were not what you are today, what else would you have loved to be? I would definitely have been an entrepreneur. From fashion to estate development, my passion and interest still remains very strong.
Are you fulfilled? Not fully. There is so much more I can do for my community and my country. The problems facing our women are also a sour point for me. Along with people of like minds, I am convinced we can improve the fortunes of our people. 

When should we expect the first female president in Nigeria?

Let’s be honest, that’s not likely to happen in 2019. But we must first build a critical mass of competent and influential women and then push on from there. 

We have met a lady who had over 200 shoes in her kitty; how many shoes do you recommend that a lady should have? 

I am not sure there can be a definite answer to your question. It generally depends on her job description and preferences. While a fashion model may have up to 100, a teacher may not need more than 20. So it really depends.

Tell us about a normal day with you. What do you do, and then on weekends too?

First I wake up early for my prayers; I ensure the kids are in good shape to go to school. After breakfast with the family, I face my official duties for the day. This usually includes meetings, attending to files, memos, dignitaries and ancillary functions. It doesn’t change much during the weekends, except that I have a little more time for my family.

How do you catch your fun, hobbies, and sports?

Funny enough, my hobby is fashion/interior designing. I like to give new life to seemingly mundane things. 

Do you find time for the family, considering the demands and nature of politics? 

Of course I do. Like I said earlier, every morning I find time to attend to their needs, especially during the weekends. It is something every working woman must consciously find time for.

What do you consider the secret of marriage success? Trust and understanding! Love is also important but once there is no trust and understanding, it will not stand the test of time.




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