I’m hopeful all women will buy into my vision —Bola Sarumi-Aliyu

Bolanle Ashabi Sarumi-Aliyu, United Kingdom-trained social worker and an entrepreneur, is a governorship aspirant on the platform of Abundant Nigeria Renewal Party (ANRP) in the 2019 elections. In this interview with TAYO GESINDE, the founder of Childhood Bridge International Initiative and BASA Foundation talks about why she feels the time is ripe for a woman to become the governor of Oyo State.

A lot of people are still curious about your background. Who is Bolanle Sarumi-Aliyu?

I studied Social Welfare in the United Kingdom. I also have a degree in Social Policy from Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, UK.  I started my own  business at the age of 21 with a boutique in Gbagi, Ibadan and later, I opened a beauty spa in Abuja. I am also into supplies and contracts. I have a bridal and event company and also co owner/ CEO of Mia uniforms. I started my NGO; BASA Foundation this year to empower youths both male and female and to assist people in the society. I take joy in being a blessing to others. I can’t just leave someone suffering; I must find a solution to his suffering. I was appointed the Special Assistant on Social Development to the former FCT Minister, Chief Jumoke Akinjide and have since been actively involved in grassroots politics.

Why do you want to govern Oyo State?

It has been about 19 and half years now, post military regime and all we have witnessed in Oyo State is poor representation and leadership even with the promised change in 2015. At some point, I had to ask if the people of Nigeria, particularly Oyo State have really experienced the change they were promised. Every day 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, rent   is unbearable. There is endemic poverty in the land, massive unemployment and our incomes unsustainable. It’s clear that the promised changes haven’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.

 

Are you not intimidated by the calibre of people who have been showing interest in the exalted seat?

No, I am not. It is only God that gives power. I also want to urge and encourage every youth, man and woman to take responsibility in this election process to vote or be voted for.

How do you intend to get the support of Oyo women? 

By reaching out to them in their work places, in the markets and I’m doing already door to door canvassing and going on air to talk to the people.  The all- inclusive government will definitely include women. Indeed, the significant impact of women in nation building is key and very important as shown all over the world. Women are the real architects of society. The 21st century has seen Nigerian women achieve so much not just for themselves but in actions that have rippled positively across the country. These women have played a key role in shaping our history based on their actions, sacrifice, professionalism and their genuine dedication and love for Nigeria. These women are diplomatic and tactful, our women heroes like the late Chief Mrs Olufunmilayo Ransome- Kuti, Hajiya Gambo Sawaba, Margaret Ekpo, Elizabeth II, the Queen of England who ruled Britain for 70 years, Joan of Arc helped the French in their war with Britain, etc. Women may seem weaker than men physically but not emotionally or in intellect and cleverness. I think a strong woman in all the meanings of this word has a chance to do more than just dancing, supporting and voting during elections. Statistics have shown, for example in the 2015 general elections 45,888,984 registered voters were women, while 22,944,984 were men. Despite being the larger block of the electorate, women occupy less than seven per cent of positions in government (elective and appointive) in the country. It is time for women to step up to the highest political office in the 36 states. Our mother’s and sisters are very hardworking and carry a lot of the burden in society.  As one of them, I’m hopeful that all women will buy into my vision to be a pacesetter and rally around me. Of course, we are working with men and want them on our side. We will be making history and setting the pace for other states to follow.  We are saying give a woman the opportunity to be in the driver’s seat and show a different side to good governance. When women support other women and each other, we will able to prove our capacity.  By the way, I’m not saying vote for me because I am a woman. I’m saying vote and support me because I have the capacity to make Oyo State better and together we can move the state forward.

 

 Finance is a major issue for women in politics. How do you intend to tackle this?

Finance is a major issue for both men and women but unfortunately, it affects the credible ones more.  For me, I am not worried about this because I have come to realise that politics in Nigeria is gradually shifting away from money -driven politics, where people need to be given money to follow your campaign or to key into your vision. Our people have gotten smarter, even though some still get carried away with a few minutes of comfort given by desperate politicians prior to voting. As women, we would support each other and also get support from well-meaning Nigerians (men and women) without any strings attached.

 

If you eventually become the governor of the state, what are your plans and programmes for the state?

My vision for Oyo is about making life better for everyone, our administration will run an all- inclusive government. What this means is that everyone becomes a stakeholder in moving the state forward and it means we would listen to the people and be responsive to their needs, after all, we are to serve the people.  What Oyo State and its people need is housing as a human right, medicare for all (proactive and reactive), all-inclusive and responsive government, assured women’s right, social safety nets where people should not be too poor to live, support for the elderly, job creation or engaging the unemployed, rapid community development, education for all and enhanced Internal Security. Details of these plans and programme are already contained in my manifesto. These are things I will focus and deliver on.

What advice do you have for young people?

The idea of youths as leaders of tomorrow has reduced a demographic majority to a political minority. What this means is that while the youths control the majority of votes cast during elections, they end up controlling nothing after elections. Nigerian youths have featured prominently in political leadership and governance in the past but in recent times, the story is not the same. Remarkable gentlemen like Shehu Shagari became a federal legislator at 30 years and a minister at 35 years. Maitama Sule became pioneer minister of petroleum at the age of 29 years. M.T. Mbu became a minister at the age of 24 years, Nigeria’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom at the age of 26 years and first minister of defence at 32 years. Donald Duke became a governor in his thirties; Richard Akinjide became minister of Education at the age of 32. Audu Ogbeh was a Minister at the age of 35 years. And the list goes on.

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