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Trend; INTERVIEW: Kogi guber: Men won’t intimidate me out of race – ZLP candidate, Fatima Taiye Suleiman

Note: Don't forget to leave a comment after reading to win a Massive Airtime Giveaway! Hon. Fatima Taiye Suleiman is the only female candidate out of the 18 contesting for the November 11 governorship election in Kogi State.

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 us 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, in Kogi State. I am based in Lokoja and I am a fashion designer. In the 21 Local Government Areas here in Kogi State, I am their chairlady. I am also the Chairlady of Women Initiative International.

Can you give us a historical background of your Political journey?

I was born in Kwara State, before I relocated to Lagos. From Lagos State, I moved 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’s tenure, may his soul rest in perfect peace, I was with him 24/7 in time of politics. When God called him, there was nothing we could do. From there, I met a 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 in 2015 when he won his Senatorial election. I worked for those people that I called for you. But when God said, come to the Zenith Labour Party, I believed 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 the bell. From there, I came out for the Senatorial election, myself and other political party candidates 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 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 are women not carried along?

So I said to myself that, to take a step, let me come out. I am coming out to fight for women, because they must be carried along. Anything that happens in terms of money, they will call men. I believe the only way I can come out to fight for women is to seek an elective position. I am 100 percent sure women will support me.

Looking at the Political atmosphere in Kogi State, can you defeat the big forces seeking to take over Lugard House?

I have all it takes to win the next governorship election in Kogi State. First, being a woman is a great advantage for me. When you are talking during the electioneering campaign, women are always there. The women have the population, including voting. In terms of my political career, the way I carry 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 keep 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 I told you earlier that I was formerly in the Peoples 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 been 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? One has to start from somewhere. If not for the death of Prince Abubakar Audu, our Governor wouldn’t be the number one citizen of Kogi State. He never dreamt of it after the outcome of the APC primary in 2015. But when God says this is the way he will follow to become Governor, look at him today. I believe today that I 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 have 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 keep eulogising me for my great impacts in the lives of people.

For me, I have done well for women over the years, and am 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 know me as a great mobilizer. That is 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. Am not saying this because I am from the Central Senatorial district. 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 you intend to do differently from other candidates jostling for the number one seat in Kogi state?

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 the demands of women because men have 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 a 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, she 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 and youths to boost food production in Kogi State. I will provide job opportunities, raise our internally generated revenue, 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 streets 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 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 tests the seat of power.

What is your advice to the youths ahead of the election?

I 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. I am begging the youths, because we all know that they are the ones 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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