Hajiya Mariya Mannir Yakubu is the wife of Deputy Governor of Katsina State and Coordinator of the NorthWest Women Movement for Buhari 2019. In this interview, she explains why President Muhammadu Buhari remains the candidate to beat in the 2019 president
Daily Trust: What is the general concept of your group and what activities do you engage in? The flagoff of the North-West Women Movement for Buhari 2019 took place in May this year in Katsina State with a unique ground breaking ceremony. And we have begun a massive mobilization for the re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo in the 2019 presidential election. The ceremony had over 20, 000 women from across the North-West zone in attendance as well were some governors’ wives and other dignitaries. Highlight of the event included the first/initial phase of the women empowerment scheme where thousands of women were supported with over N10 million by the movement. Subsequently, many other women were reached out to, amounting to more millions of naira also being spent by the movement in that regard. Undoubtedly, President Buhari has been gender-friendly and has through many initiatives and policies put smiles on the faces of women. He has been giving money for the empowerment of women so they can start small scale businesses and other skills acquisition schemes. He made several promises to the women during the 2015 electioneering campaigns, and he has been fulfilling these promises in very marvelous ways. Today, many women are exceling in agriculture, poultry, trading and other areas. Therefore, he deserves the full support of the women in the 2019 election because his re-election will be a blessing for the women folk, not only in the North West or the northern part of the country alone, but the country in general. That is why I have been saying it time and again that President Buhari remains women’s best option for 2019.
DT: What sort of mobilization are you commencing and how are you strategizing towards achieving your desired goal?
Plans are underway to visit all the North West states to stage mega rallies and grassroots mobilization for the president’s re-election, as well as the empowerment programme of the women. The seven North West states to be visited include Kaduna, Katsina, Kano, Jigawa, Kebbi, Zamfara and Sokoto. Meanwhile, the empowerment programme is a pivotal factor in the mobilization/campaign because anything pertaining to the advancement of women is dear to the president and close to his heart. During these rallies, the achievements of the president so far and his positive inputs in all the sectors of the country will be illuminated, including all he has been doing for women. This scorecard is necessary to be publicly presented to prove his critics and those fanning campaigns of calumny and bitterness against the president wrong. We are going to do everything possible to convince people to come out en-mass and vote for the president, and one of our greatest weapon is the president’s score card. Many governors and their deputies including their wives have endorsed our movement, given us support in many ways and boosted our morale. Courtesy visits will also be paid to other governors outside the zone who are committed to the president’s re-election. This will enable us put heads together to fine tune our strategies and exchange ideas in order to achieve our objective.
DT: Is your movement targeting only women in terms of mobilizing for the president’s re-election?
Even though our main focus is women, the youth and men have also been supportive in several ways. Many male youths have come to me and asked me to integrate them into our programmes one way or another so that they too can offer their support for the re-election course. Others have even offered to be volunteers, and some even jokingly told me that they were prepared to ‘change their (male) caps to (female) head ties’ in order to be part of our movement. You know that many people just love the president and will offer themselves for services in whatever capacity and be committed to it, so long as it is for the course of President Buhari. So, I can add that the president remains the youths’ best candidate as well, and we are working out a strategy to see how the male folk will be integrated fully into our programmes. This is because we need their support and vote equally in the 2019 elections. By and large, you know that for any women’s programme to be absolutely successful, it must include the men directly or indirectly. We need them to advise us, to support us, to permit their wives to be part of the programmes and encourage them to avail themselves of the activities, among other things.
DT: What is the structure of the movement across the seven North West states so far?
We already have a formidable structure. As I said earlier, the governors and their wives are part of our movement and are in full support of our programmes as well as the re-election bid of the president. That has facilitated so many things for us. We also have a good campaign structure and state coordinators across the seven states already. The leaders will be meeting in Kaduna for a strategic meeting and to put final touch to our blue print. Part of the meeting will also include assigning of roles to them and to enjoin them to go and work with local government areas coordinators/women leaders who will on their own part liaise with the ward leaders and then the rest of the grassroots. We are also going to go round all the states to set up offices. Apart from all of these arrangements, it is a known fact that people across the North West love the president whole heartedly and are ready to do anything for him. We are coming in to boost their love and commitment and to sensitize them on all that is pertinent before, during and after the election. This includes education on the voting pattern as well as electronic voting, if that would be employed fully by the electoral body in the election. You know that women require constant enlightenment on voting, particularly if the voting pattern is being changed or different technologies are introduced in the system.
DT: Are you certain that the president will win in 2019?
Absolutely! His chances are very bright, even brighter than ever before. Ours is to keep mobilizing and keep telling the people of his many good works, instead of them believing the lies of some unjust critics. Our structure and platform are formidable to contribute tangibly to the re-election of the president. I recall when I took the structure and blueprint of our movement to the Special Adviser to the President on Political matters. He studied it carefully and after two days, he called me and said it was excellent. He even added that it would be good if it could be applied in the whole country and not only the North West zone. The president also went through it and applauded it.
DT: How would you rate the president’s anti-corruption fight, and what does it represent for the women folk?
The president’s anticorruption fight is excellent and on level. That remains one of his most prominent strengths and goodwill which have earned him commendation within and outside the nation. This noble undertaking by the president is a win for the female folk because corruption has caused the nation a lot and its negative effect has trickled down to households/families. And as strategic members of families, anything that will tackle this national catastrophe will also be in the interest of the women because the nation will be repositioned in the long run, the families will feel the good impact and women will be better for it.
DT: What is your advice to women regarding the 2019 elections generally?
You know that women are very committed to whatever they are doing. So, I advise them to participate actively in the elections and vote in good leaders. They should not allow themselves to be relegated to the background in this democratic dispensation so that they can also enjoy the full dividends of democracy. All these however begin with the women going to get registered and collecting their Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) because that will be what will enable them vote for the candidates of their choice.