I Joined Kogi Gov’ship Race to fight for Women – ZLP Candidate, Fatima Suleiman

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Hon. Fatima Taiye Suleiman is the only female candidate out of the 18 contesting for the November 11 governorship election in Kogi State. The Lokoja based fashion designer in this exclusive interview with our correspondent vows not to step down for any candidate ahead of the election.

Excerpts:

Who is Hon. Fatima Taiye Suleiman?

Hon. Fatima Taiye Suleiman is an indigene of Okene, here in Kogi State. I base in Lokoja and I am a fashion designer. In the 21 Local Government Area here in Kogi State, I am their chairlady. I am also the Chairlady of Women Initiative International.

Can you give us a background of your political journey?

I was born in Kwara State, before I relocated to Lagos. From Lagos State, I move back to my State here in Kogi. The way they operate in Lagos State is different from the way they operate in Kogi especially as it concerns Women. During Prince Abubakar Audu, may his soul rest in perfect peace, I was with him 24/7 in time of politics. When God called him, there is nothing we can do. From there, I met former lawmaker representing Kogi West, Senator Dino Melaye. He is my boss. I followed him. If you want to know the truth, call Senator Dino Melaye. We were four Women that followed him, bumper to bumper. That was 2015 when he won his Senatorial election. But I believe, time will tell you were you belong to. I worked for those people that I called for you. But when God says, come to Zenith Labour Party, I believe the time was ripe. I was single handedly called by the Chairman of ZLP Dan Nwanyanwu. He said, madam, I want you to handle ZLP in Kogi and I said it was fine. That was how my name started ringing bell. From there, I came out for senate. My self and other political party candidate in the 2023 general election. Now, I believe it is time to come out for the number one seat of Kogi State.

You are the only female candidate in the November governorship election in Kogi, what has been your driving force into politics?

What made me to join politics is because of the way they are treating our Women. I don’t like it. In time of election, women are much on the field. But when the results come out, they push us aside. If you go to various offices, you will meet Men there. What of Women? Why is Women no carried along? So I said to myself that, to make a step, let me come out. I am coming out to fight for Women, because Women must be carried along. Anything that happened, it must be Women first. Anything that happened in term of money, they will call Men. I believe the only way I can come out to fight for Women is to come out that I am looking for something. I am 100 percent sure Women will support me.

Looking at the political atmosphere in Kogi State, can you defeat the big forces looking forward to take over Lugard House?

I have all it takes to win the next governorship election in Kogi State. Firstly, being a Woman is a great advantage for me. When you are talking during electioneering campaign, Women are always there. The population are Women, including voting on the field. In term of my political career, the way I carried Women along, is something that will boost my chances in the race. Whenever I am passing, I am always showered with encomiums by my fellow Women because of the impact I have made in their lives. They will always tell me, Chairlady, you are already there. If I tell you that the followers that I have now that are Women, are more than 500,000 who are waiting to vote for me on election day. Go and do your verification. I assist Women a lot. I am a fashion designer. This is my shop. I can tell you that a lot of Women have been trained by me without collecting anything from them. Their families are there and they keeping saying that, when I become the next Governor of Kogi State, it means I will remove many Women from the shackles of poverty.

You are from the same Senatorial District of one of the leading candidates in the race, is there any form of distraction?

I can’t be distracted in achieving my goals. You would recall when I told you earlier that, I was formerly in the People’s Democratic Party, (PDP), but when God says it is time when my name will reign, I joined ZLP. If God says it is my seat, I will be there. But if God says no, who am I. But, I know that, by the grace of almighty Allah, I will get there. Because I know, being the only Woman in the race, our Women will support me.

How do you intend to defeat the big names in the race?

Just like what I have being saying, your mind is what God reads. I know, I will get there. Have you forgotten that, PDP, APC were once small before their names started ringing bell? One has to start from somewhere. If not the death of Prince Abubakar Audu, our Governor won’t know he will be the number one citizen of Kogi State. He never dreamt of it after the outcome of APC primary in 2015. But when God say this is the way he will follow to become Governor, look at him today. I believe today that am going to be there because I am a Woman. For the first time that a Woman is not backing out, I believe I will be there.

Over the years, women had failed to get support from their own gender, how sure are you that things will be different in Kogi State?

I Hon. Fatima Taiye Suleiman, will get the needed support from my fellow Women. I will break that record in Kogi State. My constituency fashion designers and many other trades are solidly behind me. I have followers on social media, who keeps eulogizing me for my great impacts in the lives of people. For me, I have done well for Women over the years, and very optimistic that they will support my Governorship ambition. I am a strong politician. Those politicians that I worked for, any returns given to me, I do use them to empower Women and my followers. So, any time I call them, they are always there for me. Most of the big politicians here in Kogi State knows me as a great mobilizer. That why my leader Dan Nwanyawun called me to lead ZLP in Kogi State because he knows I have a lot of followers.

How would you rate the performance of Governor Bello in the last seven and half years in Kogi State?

Governor Bello has done his best for Kogi State in his own capacity. I am not saying this because am from the Central Senatorial district. Let us be realistic. God created somebody to have good or bad. These two things comes with human being. He has tried in his capacity for what God has sent him to do in Kogi State.

Are you stepping down for any candidate?

I won’t step down for any candidate. I am 100 percent in the race till the end. I have what it takes to lead the people of Kogi State. Whoever that is having this mindset of me stepping down for any candidate should have a rethink.

What do intend to do differently from other candidate jostling for the number one seat in Kogi state?

Firstly, I will make sure I carry my Women along. No doubt Governor Bello’s administration empowered many women in Kogi State, I intend to do more than that. I will make sure that, anywhere you see five Men, Women must be two there. I will make sure that I meet to the demands of Women because Men has really cheated us a lot. My coming into the race is for Women. Look at our Children, if anything happens, it is the Woman that would take the responsibility in the house. Sorry to say this, if you give man N1,000 000 today, the next thing he will be thinking is to go and marry another wife. But if you give that same money to a woman, the woman will remember that she has children at home. Don’t forget, Children are the leaders of tomorrow. So, we need to start from somewhere. That is why we need to carry our Children along.

“On agriculture, I will empower our women, youths to boost food production in Kogi State. I will provide job opportunities, raise our internally generated revenues, build roads, schools and work on all our infrastructures for a better Kogi State. Look at our young girls moving up and down, doing nothing. These are the people who I will remove from the street if given the opportunity to serve in Kogi State. I will carry Men along, but Women will come first.

What is your take on power rotation?

I am in support of power rotation. This state is not meant for one tribe. We have various ethnic groups. If one ethnic group rules today, let it go to another ethnic group. If we are doing rotation, everything will be fine. For one tribe to retain power is not the best.

Are you in support of the APC fielding candidate from the Central for this election?

I am not against it. You will ask me why? Do you know how many years one ethnic group has ruled Kogi State? So it is now time for the Ebira’s to do their own, before it will be moved to Okun, Kogi West. Let it go round. After all this, then, we can all come back to the negotiation table. Why one ethnic group decided to do 16 years is because the rotation has not been pronounced before now. Now that it has been pronounced, we will all come to negotiation when the other ethnic group after the Central test the seat of power.

What is your advice to youths ahead of the election?

Am advising the Youths to avoid being used by fraudulent politicians. If anybody gives you a gun to destroy a place, ask that person where his children are? During elections, they should go to their polling units, cast their votes and go home. They should not be deceived by peanuts coming from selfish politicians who want to destroy our democracy. Violence is not good. Let us maintain peace. Ebira, Igala, Okun, we are all one. If it is your turn, let us believe it is. If it is not, go and relax, when it is yours, it will come. Am begging the Youths, because we all know that they are the one they will use to cause havoc before, during and after the election. All we want is a better Kogi State. Our state will not divide, but we will come out better and stronger.


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