Iman Sulaiman-Ibrahim holds a B.Sc. in Sociology, MBA and MA in Management and Human Capital Development. A certified SAP HCM consultant, she rose to become a top senior sales director in Mary Kay Cosmetics. After 11 years, she left Mary Kay to pursue her life dream of serving her people. She is our woman of substance this week
I grew up from a background of service. My parents did not only serve their family and people around them, but they served humanity. My parents put service in the forefront of their affairs.
I grew up surrounded with a lot of love and Values; that is the foundation of my childhood. I live a simple and modest life, I easily forgive, in fact, there is nothing I cannot forgive. That is one of my strengths. I value my relationships, I nurture and grow them.
I attended the University of Abuja, graduating at the age of 19 with a BSC. Sociology. I moved to the UK where I got my MBA and MA in Management and Human Capital Development.
After my NYSC in NNPC, Kaduna Zonal office, I worked briefly at the Abuja Geographic Information System (AGIS) before moving back to the UK with my husband, with the intention of doing my PhD, which I haven’t done up till now because I did other things that caught my attention.
At the UK I got certified as SAP HCM consultant. I worked briefly in the HR function, then stumbled onto Mary Kay Cosmetics. I rose to become a top Senior Sales Director, the only director from northern Nigeria in the company of over 3.5 million Sales Force globally. I ran my Mary Kay business for 11 years. My experience in Mary Kay strengthened me internally, externally and eternally. It was a training field for me which I knew will polish my skills that will set me apart for greatness.
The BEEHIVES Initiative
I have a non-governmental organization (NGO), The Beehives Initiative which I co-founded with my friend, Zainab Marwa-Abubakar. We have the vision of building an army of politically inclined and competent women who are fully charged, fit and ready to serve humanity in all plaines of political participation and in all aspects of social and economic development to achieve gender balance and equity.
Our goal is to build a solid platform around our principles of imparting political enlightenment and supporting women in their political journeys from the very beginning to foster growth and development.
We launched early this year. In most states we have what we call the Queen Bees, these are our state coordinators. And the Diamonds who are the LGA and Ward coordinators. We are really challenged, our women are so impoverished, so first of all, we are trying to do something for them. We’ve had support from some well-meaning Nigerians, we’ve done the main launch, we have our structures in place and we are waiting for the next phase of funding to be able to hit very hard with the state inaugurations and activities.
Interest in politics
I didn’t just have a stable and secured childhood, but I was opportune to study and live in the UK for about 15 years, being fully aware of the rights and privileges of being part of a system that is fully enabled, built by people from sheer hard-work, diligence and dedication.
Early in 2016 my son fell sick, we almost lost him, he was 11 years old, he had a flu but it took a different dimension, after 10 days he was partially paralised, within 3-6 hours of diagnosis, my son received the highest level of care any child on planet earth could access. When he went in for surgery at the GOSH London, it was a team of 38 experts from different medical fields that he required. From top consultant pediatric neuro surgeons to Pediatric ENT surgeon etc. An 11 year old boy!!! I have never seen such level of care in my life and if we were to pay for it, we couldn’t have been able to afford it but due to the fact that we work and pay our taxes, we had access to that level of care for our children.
That was when I knew it was time to come back home and get involved with policy making and governance, because there and then I made a promise to The Almighty to dedicate this season of my life to nation building, so every child in Nigeria will be able to access that level of healthcare and also have the opportunity to survive and thrive.
So I decided to go into politics fully. I know it is not going to be easy to actualize our dream of building a society where things work, we just have to start. Collectively we can drive excellence.
The politics that I am going into has a total selfless approach, it’s not a do or die affair. I have other business interests, I have other aspirations and goals, and I have a loaded bucket list. If I don’t win a seat, I don’t win, though I will love to win because nobody runs a race to lose, I will do all I can within the law and within my capability to win, but if I don’t win, it is not the end of the world.
Women in politics
The Interest and participation of women in the Nigerian political terrain will see a surge in the 2019 elections. We are aware that we must play our role in nation building to complement the male dominated solution angles. Predominantly, the occupants of this country are women, so also we own the greater chunk of the problem, which we must be given the opportunity to offer solution for. That is why we need more women in politics to make room for gender friendly policies which will enhance productivity.
How do you ensure justice and fairness if you don’t have the most populous people on this planet contributing to policies? You cannot decide for me what I need as a woman. Do you know what I need? Of course you don’t. So you can’t have balance in policy and decision making. What that means is that you are going to be leaving a lot of problems unsolved and as long as those problems are not solved, we cannot achieve the kind of development we desire.
To build this nation, we need balance in governance. I urge women that no matter how challenging it is, we have to be actively involved in politics. We are not there to challenge the men but to back them up, compliment their efforts so that we can achieve all our set goals as a nation.
Besides the challenge of finance, there is also the issue of patriarchy, the men feel they should always be on top, and also sole decision makers. Every time they remind you that you are a woman.
It is not a contest, we are there to back them up with what they cannot see.