Sarumi Aliyu, also known as BASA is a wife, a mother, a business woman, a humanitarian and hard working woman, who also has passion for politics. In this interview with HOSEA YUSUF , she speakers about her political aspiration and disaffection about how politics is played in the country
Why do you want to be the next Governor of Oyo State?
It has been about 19 and a half years now post military regime and all we have witnessed in Oyo State is poor representation and leadership even with the promised change of 2015. At some point I had to ask, who has Nigeria, particularly Oyo State, really been changing for? Everyday gets harder for my people and their families to get by. Health care is near zero, proper education is only for the rich, there is nothing balanced about our children’s diet, rents unbearable, endemic poverty in the land, massive unemployment and our incomes unsustainable.
It’s clear that the promised changes hasn’t been for us, and it’s time for us as a people to take responsibility and act positively. As a Governor, I will have control of the State’s resources and be able to channel them positively for the betterment of the people of Oyo State. All I want to do is to serve my people by implementing policies that would improve the quality of life of my people and also ensure that no one is too poor to live.
Under which political party will you be contesting?
I will be going with a party that’s genuinely for the people. A party that shares my ideologies. A party that means well for the nation as a whole. A party concerned about solving immediate problems and also has the future in mind. Few weeks from now, I will announce this party. It is a new party in the political landscape that will be the best for Oyo State and Nigeria as a whole.
Do you believe you have what it takes to handle a position that has been male dominated?
Yes I do. Dating back historically, women ruled in some parts of our country and they did very well. Many of them used their resources to take care of the people too. I am compassionate, hence my people will be taken care of. I am God fearing, hence I have no intention to loot the State. I have been in business since the age of 20,therefore I will make the State a buoyant one. I am a humanitarian and I know where people need support. I have a degree in Social policy so will implement policies that will benefit the people both young and old, I also studied social work and welfare, and this will come to use greatly. I am already building a team of brilliant professionals with fantastic ideas and all with hearts of gold that will deliver for the people. We are coming to genuinely work and serve the people, this is what I have always loved to do. I’ve been serving and working for my people for about two decades now. So irrespective of gender, politics and political office ought to be a tool for development and anyone that has something to bring on board should come on board.
Women in politics are very few. Why is this so?
The 3 Fs: I would say Fear, Finances and the Frivolous Offers the so-called men in power put to them. I would advise women not to be afraid anymore for what will be will be, and I would rather live a life well spent and do all I dream to do than say “what if”.
Finances: it’s been a challenge to many women and even myself, but I am not worried about this because I have come to realise that politics in Nigeria is gradually shifting away from money-driven politics. Our people have gotten smarter. As women, we would support each other and also get support from well-meaning Nigerians (men and women) without any strings attached.
Frivolous: I have had some challenges from very old men in politics and have told them point blank to mind how they speak to me and shouldn’t even disrespect women around me and I won’t disrespect them too. So I think the women have to come out bold and brave for we can’t continue to fold our arms and let the country fail on us. In the real sense of things, we are their Mothers.
How are the few women therein faring and what are their challenges?
It must be tough on them not to be heard simply because they are very few. Women are less than 5% in elected offices. So, we need to encourage more women into office. These women should begin or continue to mentor more women so we can balance out gender in the government.
What are the challenges of the people of your state and how do you intend to solve them?
Unemployment is at its highest level, graduates are ready to take on any job even at minimum wage so as to have something doing, those that have skills and talents don’t have necessary tools or resources to start their own business. Furthermore, Health care is near zero, proper education is only for the rich, there is nothing balanced about our children’s diet, rent is unbearable and endemic poverty in the land. All of these we intend to solve with our people oriented programs and policies.
What is your take on the ongoing debate on state police as a way of solving the current spate of insecurity in the country?
It is actually the way forward, considering the fact that most of our police men and women are being deployed to take care of politicians, elected officials and big men and women in our country. We definitely need more police presence within communities where our people actually live. I feel organized groups like the OPC and other local vigilante need to be recognised for their efforts in securing lives and property. They can easily be made community police once they’ve gone through the necessary training.
Given your upbringing, who would you say has had the most influence on your life (perhaps as a mentor)?
My mother taught me to respect people and never to look down on anyone, she also taught me to be humble and content with what we have. She ran my dad’s printing press in those days and still managed to raise 6 kids. She’s a very strong woman so I definitely got that energy from her.
My dad did very well for people around him and his constituency, so politically, I learnt a lot from him. My grandmother (God rest her gentle soul) was a business woman and a great philanthropist. She trained over 100 women in textile business and today, most of them are successful women in the business today. She died at the age of 93 a wealthy woman that was loved by the whole family and by the community too. All the women in my family have been hardworking and also humanitarians.
Being a professional, what plans do you have about leveraging on some of your connections to attract direct foreign investment to Oyo state?
First of all, I will ensure that I put my house “Oyo State” in order. It is only when we have our house in order that we can invite or entertain visitors. I will leverage on my relationship with persons and organisations across the globe and showcase the New Oyo State that we will create, this will naturally attract the right investments.
Who Is Your Personal Hero/heroine?
I actually have several. Queen Amina of Zaria, Dora Akunyili, Oprah Winfrey, Hillary Clinton. All these are women who took responsibility and acted.
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