Dr. Safiya Ilyasu Muhammed spent greater part of her working life in the federal civil service until she retired. The burning desire to contribute positively to the development of Bauchi State was the factor that pushed her to partisan politics. She is presently aspiring to represent Bauchi South in the 8th Senate as a distinguished Senator. HOSEA YUSUF met her.
Why are you in partisan politics?
It was out of the burning desire in me to serve with passion. After many years inretirement from the federal civil service as a permanent secretary,I decided to answer the call of my people who have been urging me to venture into partisan politics since my retirement, toenable me avail my wealth of experience toward moving my senatorial district, state, zone and the entire nation forward in a positive direction. I never made up my mind until after a thoroughstudy of the entire political system. I joined the ruling party APC, not because it is the ruling party, but because it is the embodiment of credibility, with highly respectable Nigerians at the helm of its affairs and genuinely working to serve the Nigerian people.My venturing into politics therefore, is for service to my people and not for personal comfort. I retired as a federal permanent secretary and I know what it takes to move a state that is yearning for aggressive development forward to an appreciable level. I know the peculiar problems bedeviling my senatorial district comprising of Alkaleri, Bauchi, Bogoro, Dass, Kirfi, Tafawa Balewa and ToroLocal Government Areas. I have garnered the required experience over the years in public service, I have the exposure and experience and I am willing to learn the ropes politically when in the senate to address the problems threatening the welfare of my people.I may be a novice in partisan politics but not in service delivery. How do you intend to win the primary election? When I made my aspiration public on the platform of APC in December 2017, there may have been other aspirants who had also made their aspirations public to contest for the Bauchi South Senatorial Seat come 2019. Nobody knew then that our dear brother, the late Distinguished Senator Ali Wakili, was going to leave us so soon. Definitely, I know that there will be a primary election as provided for by the Constitution, as such I am hopeful that this election will be credible, free and fair.
What are your chances of winning?
Laughter! Oh! I am very optimistic, believing that it is God Almighty that gives power to who so ever He wills, at the time that He so wills. If I am destined to occupy this position, by the will of God, so will it be. I rely on my credentials and the general acceptance I enjoy from the people of the Bauchi South Senatorial District. I have built a very good reputation over the years and my late husband, Prof. Ilyasu Muhammad guided me through my adolescent years, on the path of righteousness. He was a pillar and the backbone of all my struggles in life. I enjoy a very good relationship with the people and I have the confidence of defeating the other aspirants in a free and fair contest. What is a threat to you? The only threat that baffles me is the ongoing campaign of calumny launched against my person by those that are either afraid of my public acceptance or the strength of my credentials and exposure. Those making spurious allegations against my person are not threats to my aspiration but adding value to my struggles. I have no axe to grind with anyone and those that choose to blackmail me or under rate my contributions to the development of Bauchi statewhile in the civil service are free to continue beating about the bush. I have no time to join issues with them. I have a large heart to accommodate any rubbish. It is rather unfortunate that some people out of selfish interest redefined civilization to suit their selfish interest because they have lost bearing and have nothing to offer in the race than sponsored blackmail, threat to my life and possibility of rigging. These are developments that can disturb a mind but cannot discourage me.
What is your relationship with Governor M.A Abubakar?
I have the highest respect for the Governor as the leader of my party and the Governor of my state. Our relationship is very cordial and I expect his support to my aspirationbecause of the strength of my credentials, my antecedents, my loyalty to constituted authoritiesand support to his administration right from its inception.
What are you doing presently?
As an Educationist, I have been working with a United Nations Agency, UNESCO. But why are you quitting UNESCO? I am not quitting UNESCO; I am hopefully, if successful, strengthening the potential of collaboration between UNESCO and our respective Governments at all levels to benefit from the enormous expertise of this Agency for our people. I have a special interest in the development of my state through effective representation in the political system. In UNESCO, I have limitations and I am only rendering professional service, which is not enough to change the developmental landscape of my country beyond educational advancement.UNESCO is a global organization of the United Nations. It has its modes of operations and operating systems. Although I have been contributing silently in my small capacity to the educational developmentof Bauchi state from UNESCO, in the senate, I expect to do better, by touching the lives of more people in our state and promoting greater latitude for UNESCO’s collaboration in the North East and the entire country.
Is the Governor in your support?
The Governor is the father of all of us in the state, so he is not expected to stand out and support any one of us to the disadvantage of the other contestants. I believe however that like a true father, the Governor will encourage all the contestants and ensure that there will be a credible, free and fair contest.I expect his support to break the jinx and allow a qualified female gender to exercise her rights as a citizen of the state, to contest on equal footing as her male counterpart without any stress.It is expected however, that after the primaries, the successful candidate should enjoy the full support of the Governor against other parties gunning for the same position.
What is your relationship with Dogara?
The Right Honorable Yakubu Dogara is my brother, who has creditably represented our people in the House of Representatives since 2007 and this; I cannot deny, for any reason. We are from the same Constituency and we respect each other very highly. However, I have not been privileged to meet Dogara one on one to discuss as a brother and sister. But we are very proud of his performance as the Speaker of the House of Representatives of Nigeria. Are all those aspiring indigenes of Bauchi state? I have no business digging from where any aspirant hails from. What I know is that I have other fellow aspirants for the senatorial contest. Where they come from has nothing to do with me. I cannot deny any person the right to his origin simply because we are aspiring together. It is left for the right people to sort things out not me. After all, I cannot say how many of us are aspiring in APC not to talk of those in other parties.