Senator Aishatu Ahmed, popularly known as Binani, representing Adamawa Central in the Senate, emerged the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress in Adamawa State after defeating five male aspirants. In this interview, the female governorship candidate speaks about her victory and strategy to win the governorship election in 2023
How do you feel emerging as the first female governorship candidate of your party, the All Progressive Congress, in Adamawa State?
If I say I am happy, it is an understatement. I feel great and happy. And I appreciate the delegates of Adamawa APC for making the right choice. Every aspirant would tell you he was the person to beat. But I told myself too that I was the aspirant to beat. I prayed and hoped that the delegates of Adamawa State would not miss the opportunity of having me as their candidate. And, thankfully, they did what was expected of them by voting for the most popular candidate. I am very happy; I feel great and very elated. And I thank the delegates of Adamawa State.
You defeated five male aspirants, including the likes of former governor Umaru Bindow and Mallam Nuhu Ribadu. What do you think gave you an edge over these men?
As far as I am concerned, I owe the victory to our women. If you look at the composition of the delegates, going by the guidelines of the APC, which stated that every ward must have five delegates and out of the five delegates, two must be women that favoured me.
If you take Adamawa for example, we have 226 wards; if you multiply that number by two, you’d get 452 votes out of a total of 1,130 delegates for the state. This means 452 of these delegates are women. And this is the first time women are uniting and speaking together in one voice, though not hundred per cent, but I can tell you that almost 70-75 per cent of the female delegates backed me, saying our own is contesting, let us give her our block vote.
So, you think it was a gang-up by women against the men?
Actually, during my campaigns what I told those women was that if they voted for Binani, they would be doing their children a favour; I told them that “If you have a daughter, you will be doing her a favour by voting for me; you will be doing that favour to a sister and to some extent your mother, because she’s a woman. The reason being that if I am able to emerge, our daughters would feel that yes they have hope that one day they can also rise to the top because Binani has done it before. Your sister will feel that she too has a hope of becoming something in the country’s political space.”
So, I know my victory will serve as an encouragement to all other women. It will give a boost to the confidence of the girl child. And this is enough to inspire them. My emergence is a source of inspiration to not just the womenfolk in Adamawa but the nation at large.
Without the APC revised guidelines do you think you wouldn’t have stood a chance of winning the primary?
I thank the APC for coming up with that strategy on the inclusion of two women among the five delegates. It is a very good strategy of inclusion. It showed the party is not forgetting the women, knowing full well that women constitute 50 per cent of the population and even during general elections women’s participation has proven to be greater than that of their male counterparts.
Have you extended a hand of fellowship to the male aspirants who lost to you?
I said in my acceptance speech that the victory was not just for distinguished Senator Aishatu Dahiru (Binani). No; this victory is for all of us. We had an agreement, the six of us, that contested, that once any one of us emerged as the flag-bearer, the rest of us would rally round that person. The idea is to form a formidable team so that the APC can take over the government of Adamawa State. What I intend to do is to use my visit to all the aspirants to appreciate all of them, commend all of them for the comradeship displayed during the voting process. There was no rancor; we conducted ourselves with dignity and some level of responsiveness.
I know also that the party has a responsibility to bring all of us together and also come up with a formidable campaign team for the 2023 general elections. I believe we will get it right.
You will be facing the incumbent Governor Ahmadu Fintiri at the poll next year. How confident of victory are you? Do you think you have what it takes to send the governor packing in 2023?
I am confident and ready and I am sure that our great party, the APC, is also ready to face Governor Ahmadu Fintiri. Like I said, we would come up with a strategy and work out a blueprint on how to go about the campaign to win the confidence of the electorate and mobilise votes to enable us defeat the incumbent. We would not want to leak our plans but by the time we set the ball rolling the PDP would know they do not have a stake here in Adamawa State come 2023 because we will certainly take over.
If you win the governorship election next year, that will make you the first female governor of Adamawa State. What will be your first priority as governor?
We have a party manifesto. Our great party has its manifesto and that manifesto will guide me in implementing our agenda for the state. I have also built up my own manifesto, which is in the same direction as the manifesto of the APC. But in the first few months I will focus on the most challenging areas, such as human capacity development as well as the productive sectors. I will prioritise harnessing the agricultural potential of the state. Adamawa State is an agriculture-based economy with huge mining potential because of its diverse mineral deposits, which makes the prospect of industrialisation very great for the state. I will focus and give priority attention to the productive sector, which if harnessed will increase the internally-generated revenues, generate employment and ultimately boost the state’s GDP. I will also focus on the social sector, that is peace and security, education, health care delivery, commerce, housing and infrastructure.
Addressing poverty and inequality will also be a top as well as Information and Communication Technology, among others. We will monitor all these sectors and put them on track, just to ensure that we do not deviate but remain focused.
Do you have any special plan or programme for women?
Women and children have always been my priority. Those following my programmes in the state know that nearly 90 per cent of my interventions are about women and youth empowerment. I think it is one of the things that made me become so popular in Adamawa State. I will give the issue of women and youths, and especially the girl child, preferential treatment. I will give it a huge consideration and ensure I come up with a strategy on how to impact positively on women in the state. I believe that with the right blueprint we will certainly keep all the women and youths busy by empowering them and making them self-reliant. Certainly, for the girl child education, that is one aspect that will receive my attention. When you educate a girl child, you educate the whole society. I am not unaware of the deplorable state of our school infrastructures, standards and quality of education in the state being so low. Basic education, being one of the core mandates of the state, will receive our preferential consideration to turn things around. I will devote a lot of my energy to developing a strategy that will deliver quality compulsory education for the girl child.
As a sitting senator, what are the things you have done for your constituents?
As a sitting senator, I have projects and programmes covering nearly all sectors. These projects include construction of a health care clinic in the Fufore Local Government, under my senatorial district; addressing maternity needs of my constituent. I have also undertaken projects such as construction and renovation of schools, across virtually all the seven local government that I am currently representing. I have also undertaken project of sinking boreholes across all the 72 wards of my senatorial district. In addition to the solar boreholes, you have hand-pumped boreholes in areas where we feel they are more useful to the community. In addition, we have also undertaken the installation of solar streetlights all across the seven local government. All of these interventions are in line with the request of the people. Also, I have intervened through the provision and distribution of instructional and writing materials, including the furnishing of the teachers staff rooms and equipping of head teachers’ office in those schools. Apart from instructional and writing materials, I also provided the each child with a desk and a chair in most of the schools in my constituency. And there are those being empowered, because that was what they asked for. I have an office where people go to say this is what they want. Again, in the agricultural aspect, we distributed fertiliser, farming implements and all that. My interventions have always been based on needs assessment and request.
If you are elected governor, are we likely to see more women being appointed into your cabinet?
Appointing women into cabinet position or governance will not be considered doing them a favour, rather it is giving them what rightfully belongs to them. So, we would look at the statistics and ensure that they are being treated fairly in appointments just like the males.
Credit: PUNCH Newspapers