Hon. Fateema Aduke Mohammed is the Director-General of Atikunation Independent Campaign Group (ICG). In this interview, she speaks on women participation in politics, Lagos State and 2019 elections. TEMITOPE OGUNBANKE reports
What is your take on the demand for more women participation in politics ahead of the 2019 general elections?
We are tired of being at the back stage. We are tired of composing political songs, dancing behind the men, who will turn back and give us peanuts after getting to office. We are tired of 35 per cent affirmative action that up till tomorrow, we haven’t done anything about.
If you look around, the number of women in political positions are not encouraging. For example, in the Lagos State House of Assembly, we have about three women among the 40 members of the House. We have only four women among the 36 ministers in the Federal Executive Council. So, we don’t even have up to seven per cent in governance talk less of having 35 per cent.
Power is not served ala carte. So, I want to call on all women that this is the time to take the bull by the horn. We must take our destiny and fate in our hands by coming out to vote for women in next year’s elections. But if peradventure, they do not listen to us, we will go extra mile to assert ourselves and put our feet on ground.
Was that your motivation for coming out to seek elective post in the forthcoming general elections?
If you take a look at the population index of Nigeria, you will found out that women are more. All we need to do is to speak to women to come out on the day of election. Have you forgotten that there is a particular percentage that makes you to be president, governor, senator, House of Representatives member and House of Assembly member? If women are not coming out to vote, the men are in trouble. Men cannot compose songs; they need women to compose songs for them. They need the women to hold a political rally.
Look around, if you go to a political rally, if 100 people are there, you will found out that 80 people are women. So, we will go to any extend to achieve our aims.
So how do intend to achieve you aim?
We will embark on operation zip-up and operation sit tight and let us watch how far they can go into government without the women.
What is your motivation for coming out to seek for elective office?
This is not the first time I am contesting for election, I have contested before. Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre (WARDC) has been a group that has been encouraging me a lot. When I won my primaries in 2016 and my name was eventually removed; they stood solidly behind me. So, my motivation is to see more women coming out and to encourage them. We must be heard.
What change are you bringing to government if you are voted into office?
Women are the real change agents. In my constituency, for example, we have had many House of Representatives and House of Assembly members without any visible change in my constituency. God has helped me to put a lot of infrastructures and projects in place in my constituency. I am just an aspirant and I have sunk 13 boreholes.
I have constructed bridges and I have donated medical equipment to General hospital. These are things that Lagos State government needs to do and not just an aspirant in a local government.
At a period I went to hospital and I f o u n d out that one of m e m – bers delivered a baby and had to stay on the floor. That compelled me to donate beds and other medical equipment to the hospital. My motivation is that I want to attract more women; we can stand as a formidable force. We want to be heard and be seen.
Talking about Nigeria presidency, there are some people who believe that the country is not ripe for a female president. Do you buy into that?
I buy into that. I said sometimes ago that I am going to be the first female vice president and after my tenure as vice president, I will become the first female president.
That exactly is my plan and I am working towards it. Coming back to your question, we are not ripe for a female president; that is the truth.
Why is Nigeria not ripe for a female president? We don’t have the financial capability except we want to fool ourselves.
Politics is about so much money. It is not about giving electorate money, but you need money to campaign and do some projects. It doesn’t come cheap because you have to charter helicopters to do the tours. So, we don’t have the financial muscles to struggle with the men. But we are getting there. Apart from financial muscles, we have anything it takes to be president.
What are those things that men are doing wrong that demands women aspiring to take over from them?
We have men in power today and we can see what is happening in the country. We are finding it d i f f i – c u l t to eat a n d e v -erything is turning upside. We are women and they call us mothers of the nation. Kindness runs through us. We know what to do to our children and we know what to do to our relatives. We are only the one who can palliate and cushion the effects of poverty in the country.
Do you think your party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has what it takes to dislodge the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2019?
Talking about my party, the next president of Nigeria is Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. Only Atiku can get Nigeria working again. Watch out; by May 29, 2019, he will be sworn in as the next president.
Why do you believe in Atiku?
Why won’t I believe in Atiku? Atiku is the master of restructuring. Atiku represents joy. Atiku represents empowerment. Atiku represents restructuring. Atiku represents everything you can talk about when you talk about the total package of governance.
What about Lagos State; do you see PDP winning the state in 2019?
Lagos State is going to be difficult for me to talk about. And I will tell you why. I am a realist and I will say it the way it is. I know that Governor Akinwunmi Ambode has tried but we have PDP people who can do better. We have a material that can dislodge the present government. It is not impossible to defeat the ruling party; it is doable.
There is somebody right now who has already declared as PDP governorship aspirant. Until another aspirant declares his governorship aspiration, Engr. Deji Doherty is the only governorship aspirant we have now. He is doing a good job and he has been with the PDP for a very long time.
It is not worrisome to you that less than one month to your primaries, you have only one governorship aspirant?
There is nothing worrisome. What that tells you is that in PDP we are coming together as a formidable force; we are coming together as a united force and this time we are saying, we don’t have time for unnecessary coming out of aspirants and anointing candidate. It is about your capability, precedence, personality and what you represent. So, if we have someone who is good and who has been there for a long time, why should people come to jostle for the same post?
It doesn’t make sense. We are going to fight as a united force. We are going to fight as one body and we are going to win the election.
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