…explains why women should participate in upcoming polls
…says Esan Agenda is a scam
Hajiya Maryam Abubakar is the immediate past commissioner for budget and planning in Edo state. A retired banker, she took the plunge into politics in 2013 and is a respected women leader in the Edo state chapter of the All Progressives Congress. In this interview, she speaks on the upcoming Edo state gubernatorial election, women’s inclusion in politics and the supposed Esan agenda, among others.
Could you please introduce yourself?
My name is Hajiya Maryam Abubakar, immediate past commissioner for budget and economic planning in Edo state and one-time executive director, Board of Internal Revenue and Banking Operations in Edo state.
Edo state has been in the news lately and a lot of it has to do with the upcoming election in September. What is your message to the women of Edo state and why should they participate?
I encourage women to come out and participate in this election for a number of reasons. Now, we have a seasoned politician who has come out to say: “I want to pilot the affairs of Edo state”. For the past three and a half years or so, Edo state has been in darkness with women abandoned and youths roaming the streets with no jobs. For me, this is not good for the state. Nothing is happening and the state is at a standstill. Despite the amount of funds that have come into the state, very little development has happened.
Pastor Osagie Ize Iyamu was once chief of staff in Edo state. Edo people can attest to the developmental strides he brought into Edo state and as at that time, he wasn’t the governor, he was Chief of Staff. You can now imagine him as governor of Edo state. It’s going to be the dawn of a new era, it’s going to be the beginning of positive change in Edo state and it’s going to be the beginning of development. He is going to follow the footsteps of Comrade Oshiomhole because after Oshiomhole left as governor in 2016, that was the end of development in Edo state in terms of women empowerment, youth empowerment, job creation and infrastructure.
Our schools are in shambles and nothing is happening in our healthcare centres. We have goats and sheep living in our healthcare centres and so, I know when we all come out en masse to vote for Pastor Osagie Ize Iyamu, development will be back to Edo state.
What kind of person is Ize Iyamu?
You see, one thing that endears me to Pastor Osagie Ize Iyamu is his ability to carry everyone along. He sees himself as a man for all, and this is a trait of a good leader.
He is not just going to be an APC governor, he is going to be the governor of Edo state, both for indigenes and residents of Edo state. He will also be governor to members of other political parties; that is the kind of man Ize Iyamu is.
I love his simplicity. Ize Iyamu is down to earth and he is a man of his words. Ize Iyamu’s doors are open to everybody. Ize Iyamu does not have a security guard in his house; you will drive straight in, find yourself a seat, and he will come around to play with everybody and discuss with everybody.
I love his simplicity and that is what the masses like. He is accessible, we can reach him and he has a listening ear. That is what people like.
Can you give us an insight into your journey into politics? What advice would you give Nigerian women regarding becoming more politically active?
After my youth service, I joined the banking industry. I left the banking industry in December 2013 as a general manager. As soon as I left, I decided to venture into politics because I retired from banking while I was still very young and I like to serve. As a banker, I was not able to give back to the society the way I would have loved to and I told myself that the only way I can bridge that gap is by getting into politics.
Honestly, it has been very interesting. A lot of women are afraid of politics because they are scared of being called prostitute, because every woman who is active in politics is tagged a prostitute. The men know that most women strongly dislike the tag but for me, I advise women to brush that behind them because when you continue to allow men to call you a prostitute and it gets to you, women will not participate in politics. And if you don’t join politics, there’s no way you can serve.
Policies say to give 35% of positions to women, but where are the 35% women? The women are not coming out, so I encourage them to come out. When I came out, I knew what I was up against. I knew all the names I was being called, but that didn’t deter me because I know who I am. I succeeded in the private sector which is even more difficult than the public sector. I see no reason why I will not succeed in politics, so I’m not scared.
Another reason women don’t join politics is religion. Most women say their religion does not allow a woman to participate in politics, but that is not true. No religion says a woman cannot join politics.
Let us all come out and join hands together. Look at countries where women play significant roles, those are the most successful countries in the world today. But look at countries where women are in the background, they are not moving forward and they are not growing, so I want to appeal our women to come out and join politics.
I also want to appeal to our husbands and brothers to allow their wives and sisters participate in politics. There is this saying that goes: “if you want something to be said, give it to a man but if you want it to be done, give it to a woman”. This is because women always want to prove that we have capacity and can deliver.
The more women come into politics, the more development we will experience in this country. If men continue to suppress women, then we will remain where we are. That is the truth.
Many keep talking about the Esan Agenda with regards to the upcoming election. What are your thoughts on this?
The Esan agenda is a scam as far as I’m concerned. There’s a saying in my local parlance that the person you know in the day, you don’t take torchlight to look at the person at night. Esan agenda is a big scam, Obaseki and Philip Shuaibu will not hand over to Esan. They have a plan that when Obaseki is going, he’s handing over to Philip Shuaibu, God forbid that they come back. But when Obaseki is going, that’s their plan, and that is why you will see Phillip Shuaibu is ready to go to any length with Obaseki for them to be re-elected because they have an accord.
So handing over to the Esan people is a dummy they are selling to them. It is not going to happen.
Do you think that there are any benefits in Edo returning to APC and aligning with the centre?
Like I keep telling a lot of people, Edo is an APC state. Majority are in APC and that is the truth. Edo people are not known for going with the opposition. We align with the centre because we know everything that happens in the sub national comes from the centre.
There is a rumour that PVCs are being collected from APC members in Edo state. Can you shed some light on this?
Yes, I heard about it too and we are acting on it. A couple of people called me some days ago to say that during the time we had a faction in the APC, those on Obaseki’s side had their PVCs collected from them. Now that the governor and deputy governor have moved to PDP, they refused to go with them but their PVCs have not been returned. The people affected are very worried; they don’t understand why their PVCs were collected from them to begin with, and it’s causing a lot of rancour among our members that didn’t go with them to PDP. We therefore want to use this medium to appeal to those people who collected PVCs from a lot of APC members to return their PVCs to them.