History has a way of throwing up persons with a difference to sharpen its perspective in any given epoch.
Politicians are seldom known to think of tomorrow. It is statesmen who do so.
Yet, through a curious interplay of fate and fervor, a glimmer pierces through the tunnel indicating that all hope may not be lost in the hunger and thirst for those with the right stuff who can break new grounds and open up edifying frontiers in our developmental space.
In our political clime, it is not common to locate those who can combine the statesman’s visionary convictions with the politician’s pedestrian fix it disposition. Perhaps this had accounted for the conclusion by many that at the root of the country’s woes are the problems of leadership. Yet, it will be uncharitable to refuse to discern beyond this bleak prism of resignation to fate in the architecture of society’s reconstruction.
Every society gets the type of leaders it deserves, it is often said. But beyond this veneer of contemptuous pessimism usually arise a ray of hope that society’s dynamic nature reconciles itself and makes good the inherent desire for and demand of modernity for remedial order.
Leaders are born, not made. Some argue. Yet, we are educated in the development school which elucidates the values of knowledge, conviction and willpower as instruments to shatter barriers and erect structures and institutions that will steer society towards a better order. Ironically, the geography of the way good things happen is akin to the proverbial manner a thief plies his trade; stealthily without a whisper!
Ramatu Tijjani, nee Sidi, curiously arrived mother earth unsung but on a rather significant date, June 12, 1970, in the quiet environs of Wuse in Abuja.
Those who believe in clairvoyance could now liken the contemporary political symbolism of the day and month of her birth as foretelling her future robust role in the nation’s democratic usages and processes.
Born into the royal family of late Alhaji Sidi Ali Mamman Bawa Allah of Lokoja, Kogi State, she did not begin life like some lucky ones did. She started its journey, of course unsure of what it would offer as tomorrow lurked.
At Dawaki Primary School, Suleja, in 1976, she began the search for the value of life. Six years after in 1982, after obtaining her first school leaving certificate, maiden Ramatu arrived the Federal Government College in Minna, Niger State, a restless pathfinder in earnest pursuit of secondary school education which culminated successfully in 1988.
Two years later in 1990, overwhelmed with the hunger to conquer her environment, she found succor in the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. After a remedial programme, she was to later earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Urban and Regional Planning.
Armed with the enduring armour of knowledge and burning with a passion to positively engage humanity, she began a robust work life by serving her compulsory National Youth Service Scheme at the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing. After a successful service to her father land, Ramatu joined AZAH intermediaries Nigeria Limited, a civil engineering construction firm, as one of its Managing Directors.
In subsequent years, she embarked on a steady and conscientious pursuit of the proverbial Golden Fleece. To this end, she proceeded to the Nasarawa State University, Keffi, where she added another feather to her academic cap with a Masters Degree in Public Administration. Not resting on her laurels, she’s currently acquiring a PhD in Security and Strategic studies at the institute of governance and development Studies from the same Ivory tower.
In apparent recognition of her compelling erudite disposition, she was later conferred with a Doctor of Public Administration honorary degree by the Prestigious Commonwealth University, London, United Kingdom. Similarly, she earned another Certificate in Leadership Skills from the reputable Abbey College, London, also in the United Kingdom.
A young woman in a hurry but resolute to write her own copy of history. She bowed to the overpowering zeal to serve humanity. In 2004, she was appointed a Special Adviser on Women Affairs, Youth and Social Development to the Chairman of Gwagwalada Area Council. Ramatu was to later cut her teeth, rendering service to man and community at this grassroots anchor of the development chain.
She later served as the Focal Person for the Federal Capital Territory (2), anchoring the implementation of the Millennium Development Goal in Nigeria’s Cosmopolitan political capital.
In 2007, she made a bold political career statement, not common with the conservative disposition of women of northern Nigeria extraction like her. She ignored traditional stereotypes, confident of her capacity, resolute in her capability and convinced that it takes courage to succeed. She threw her handbag into the ring of partisan politics. She ran for election to represent Kwali/Kuje/Abaji Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives. A greenhorn in politicking and the nuances of electioneering, her foray crashed. Unknown to her, providence had secured another role for her to play. Mother nature had charted a detour enroute her locating a befitting residence on another political turf.
Barely a year later in 2008, she was emerge the first female National Vice Chairman (North Central Zone) of the then leading opposition political party in the country, the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP. A fearless woman in a man’s den, she dared both the lions and the hyenas that bared their fangs in the dark alleys of intricate political conspiracies.
For her, failure would never be a woman if it is not a man. After all, world history has tutored that gender posed no barriers of rivers to cross to breast the tape of accomplishments. Late Golda Meir of Israel had shown it. Late Baroness Margaret Thatcher of England had proved it as well.
In 2010, Ramatu Tijjani Aliyu shook hands again with destiny. She emerged the National Woman Leader of the then conservative All Nigeria People’s Party, ANPP, a Party, whose ideology she had consistently subscribed to until its recent demise.
While holding court, she shone like a million stars in the sky. It was like an icing on the cake. Hajiya Ramatu Aliyu was to blossom; rich in content and profound in conviction. She mobilized women in the Party and organized them into a mortal political force for electoral combat. She raised the bar of intellectual political engagement among the women and ensured that their deserved place, no other took.
Hajiya Ramatu Tijjani Aliyu who also doubles as the president of the council of African political parties “women wing” after she keenly contested and won the Pan-African body’s election in khartoum-Sudan has effectively left an indelible footprint on the sands of time as an irrepressible Amazon of change.
As a wife, happily married to debonair Ahmed Tijjani Aliyu, a seasoned banker, she knew the responsibilities of a successful marriage like hers. As a mother of three children, she also knew the obligations of responsible motherhood. As she cared for the well being of her family, she also dispensed with the responsibilities of providing leadership in order not to lose her women flock. She strengthened their place in the Party’s dynamics and used it as a platform to effectively market the Party’s programmes as it related to women empowerment and development.
Tirelessly, she soldiered on, initiating reforms and fortifying capacity building measures in the knowledge that it takes institutions, not individuals, to build enduring systems that change the course of history.
It is indeed instructive that long before her eventful sojourn in politics, she had crystallized a noble dream of providing succor to those who ordinarily could not help themselves. The milk of human kindness flowed so ceaselessly in her vein that she floated a Non-Governmental Organization, NGO, christened the Global Women and Youth Empowerment Strategy, GLOWYES.
As an achiever of the finest hue, she derived her motivation for this initiative from her priceless passion to reclaim and return the place of both the women and the youth to the positions of eminence they deserve as immutable catalysts for a new order.
Having been a product of education herself, she sought to use GLOWYES to emphasize the importance of knowledge, especially for the rural women and youth, as a functional basis to equip them to realize their potentials to the fullest.
By focusing attention on critical sectors of the development chain, more so in the rural areas, Hajiya Ramatu Aliyu further worked to use the platform to strengthen marginalized communities by placing emphasis on poverty alleviation programmes that would reduce poverty. This will release the creative genius of the youth and restore the pride of the woman as a fountain of moral armament and dependable custodian of a stable family unit.
Indeed, it was therefore not surprising that when plans were unfolded to engineer the birth of the All Progressives Congress, APC, her numerous good works in and out of politics, like the proverbial golden fish, could not be hidden. This was especially so considering that her now moribund ANPP was one of the three leading legacy Parties that mid-wifed the merger. Her background as a Regional and Urban Planner was to come in handy during the formative stages of Nigeria’s ruling political party. She was to emerge a member of the then ANPP Merger Committee which worked out the intricate modalities that led to the APC’s eventual registration as a political Party by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC. Prior to this, she had earlier credibly served as a member of the Constitution Drafting Sub- Committee.
Later in June, 2014, the APC recognised her modest contributions. She emerged its first elected National Women Leader. Barely one year old on the saddle, the difference like they say, is clear!
First, she envisioned the importance of a novel institutional framework that would enable women in the party, from the Ward to the National levels, meet periodically and discuss issues of common interest. She dubbed the body, the National Women Caucus, NAWOCA, the first of its kind in any Political Party in Nigeria.
It is to her credit that NAWOCA is designed to serve as a regulatory ombudsman for women in the APC to enable them reduce internal friction, enhance dialogue for consensus building and engender informed contributions of women in the Party’s decision making process.
In the wake of preparations by her party, the APC, to begin its campaign for the 2015 presidential election, Hajiya Ramatu’s prowess as a resourceful mobilizer was to become an invaluable asset. She emerged the Director of Women Mobilization of the APC President Campaign Council.
On the saddle, she brought to bear, her penetrating vision on the task of mobilizing Nigerian women to support the Presidential ticket of Muhammadu Buhari and Prof. Yemi Osinbajo.
First, Hajiya Ramatu led a 5,000 strong contingent of her party women in a public advocacy campaign dubbed “Operation Restore Nigeria”. Wielding brooms, the women swept the Wuse Market in Abuja in applauded demonstration of their faith in the role of women as agents of positive change and custodians of edifying families.
Second, she mobilized parents, especially mothers, to support the APC’s free and qualitative education initiative. School kits were distributed to primary school pupils across the country; a campaign motivated by her conviction that the APC must keep its word of ensuring that never would there be a child without learning in any home if it wins the Presidential election.
Third, her boundless energy has found expression in her mobilizing women in her Party for a Voter Education Road Show which she aptly christened “Women can do it for change”. From Abuja to Keffi, Nasarawa State, Hajiya Ramatu stood in front of her fellow women in a long march for freedom and political engagement for democracy. “Your PVC is your APC for change,” she exhorted other Nigerian women as she urged them to use their numerical advantage to effect change for the sake of good governance.
A woman of relentless vigour, she initiated a grass root women mobilization alchemy with a penetrating door-to-door campaign in private homes in the six-geo political zones of the country as a strategic effort to market the Unique Selling Points of the APC presidential flag bearer and his running mate. To complement the gains of her insight, Hajiya Ramatu mounted a vigorous outreach programme with market women right inside their respective stalls and trade posts in virtually all the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT.
An avowed crusader, she visited the homes of notable leaders of various ethno tribal associations in strategic parts of the country from Sokoto through Ile-Ife to Uyo, extolling the
virtues of Gen. Buhari’s antecedents as a bridge builder with consummate passion for a new Nigeria of equal opportunity for all, especially the women.
As a consensus builder, the enchanting orator, sought valour in the knowledge that unity is strength. She held countless consultative meetings with other women leaders of her Party with the aim of sharpening their perspectives for a broad based program of action that would ensure effective grass root women mobilization across the country.
In furtherance of this resolve, Hajiya Ramatu held interactive consultations with several interest groups, civil society organizations and a plethora of Non-Governmental Organizations, (NGOs), drawn from all parts of the country with the aim of bridging the gap between the aspiration of Gen. Muhammadu Buhari and the leadership of these bodies, especially on issues of women development and empowerment. This immeasurably fostered better understanding and eased the acceptance of the vision of the APC Presidential Candidate which later significantly influenced positive women voter preference for his candidature in the March 28, 2015, presidential election.
As a skilled mobilizer, she organized a special Universal Children’s Day commemorative event on March 3, 2015 in Abuja. During the occasion which attracted well over 2,000 women leaders, including the wife of the then APC presidential candidate, Her Excellency, Hajiya Aisha Buhari, she dwelled on the importance of strengthening the role and place of children in our development process as the leaders of tomorrow.
To achieve this, she urged emphasis on enhancing the value capital of the girl child as a veritable basis for nurturing a new Nigeria civilization that will impact significantly on global affairs. Not done, Hajiya Ramatu resourcefully maximized the political capital of the 2015 International Women Day celebration. To sway women’s voter support for Gen. Buhari’s presidential aspiration, she mobilized about 5,000 women leaders in a colorful public procession in Abuja and its environs, drumming up women support of the APC presidential ticket.
Earlier at a well attended ceremony, the political Amazon and admonished her fellow women in these words; “With our advantage during elections, women can make it happen by using the power of their votes to declare that never again will there be joblessness in the land. Never again will there be a child in any home who cannot read or write because his or her parents cannot pay school fees. Never again will a Nigerian go to bed on empty stomach when Nigeria is the sixth largest exporter of crude oil in the world. Never again will women be denied their rights of access to capital and technology and equal opportunity in employment and education, especially for the girl child”.
A woman with a velvet heart, she was to later in the days ahead, dispense with the milk of human kindness to the needy in a strategic and conscious effort to demonstrate the compassionate attribute of President Muhammadu Buhari.
In this pursuit, she mobilized about 100 women leaders on visitation to various Ante-natal Clinics and Hospitals in different parts of the country. In the process, children health Kits, among others, were generously distributed. Unrelenting, sensitization visitations were also embarked on to Orphanage Homes where she continued with her crusade of touching hearts, healing wounds and stirring souls.
Internally Displace Persons also benefited from her tender heard as she touched them in many ways than one in Visitation Programmes which involved about 200 women leaders who stood faithfully with her in her passionate desire to sooth their pain and at the same time, cultivate their support for the APC presidential ticket. Relief materials, notably mattresses, generators, food items, clothing, blankets, among others, were distributed to fortify the electoral appeal of the initiative.
It is therefore not surprising that over 55% of the electorate, who elected Gen. Buhari as President, were women. A most telling endorsement of her tireless efforts in the emergence of Nigeria’s 4th elected president.
“It is this challenge that has given us the impetus to ensure that we commit ourselves to providing solutions to the various problems that have plagued our country, be it in education, health care, infrastructure or even agriculture,” she later said in an interview with one of Nigeria’s leading newspaper.
With the Presidential election now over, and considering her background as President General Emeritus of the Global Women and Youth Empowerment Strategy, a global human resource development think tank, it is expected that with a new government on the saddled, she would stridently champion those core values that have shaped and influenced her convictions as a robust political heroin, especially during the electioneering campaign.
“I believe that we need to provide economic opportunities for women, especially micro credit schemes to indigent widows will make them invest in small scale industries,” Hajiya Ramatu envisioned in an interview on a social media platform.
“The multiplier effect translates to jobs and a more secure means of livelihood for the overall benefit of strengthening the family which is the most important unit of development in every organized society,” she vigorously continued.
Further, she added; “there is also the urgent need to ensure that there is no discrimination in terms of gender equality in access to economy. Never should we forget to vigorously pursue vocational training for women in farming, especially those in the rural areas in order to enhance their access to land and technology as essential modern components for mechanized agriculture”.
A strong champion of added value capital for the girl child, she has strongly and constantly advocated the re-awakening of the girl child because in her words; “when you train the girl child, you have laid the foundation for the future preservation of strong family values, especially in the circumstance where we as a people have virtually lost our collective humanity by de-emphasizing those attributes that should refine our perception and conduct as decent honorable men and women.”
As a moralist, she further reasoned thus; “if you sent the girl child to school, you have free the woman in her from the lucre and lure of social vices, like prostitution. You have also
equipped a future mother who in turn will transfer the finer details of learning in the character and content of her children. The multiplier effect translates to the emergence of responsible adults who grow to become patriotic citizens and worthy gentlemen and women who cherish the attributes of hard work, honesty and love of country.”
This, in her thinking, would ensure that: “we nurture a future pool of fine leaders who can drive our economy, re-engineering our social oxymoron and anchor our politics along the hallowed path of service, good conscience and respect for the common good. Our young democracy will then grow stronger with a citizenry much more alive to their obligations and also better prepared to strengthen its practice and defend its ethos.”
Indeed, with a new dawn on the horizon, Hajiya Ramatu Tijjani Aliyu may well be an indelible footprint on the sand of time as an irrepressible Amazon of change!