Hajiya Zainab Ibrahim is a member of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and currently the personal assistant (PA) to the minister of women affairs, Senator Aisha Jumai Alhassan. In this interview with Newsmen, she speaks on what inspired her to aspire for Jalingo, Yorro, Zing Federal Constituency of Taraba State in the House of Representatives come 2019.
We hear that you are aspiring to contest for the House of Representatives in your constituency in 2019. How true is this?
Yes, I want to aspire for the House of Representatives for Jalingo, Yorro, Zing Federal Constituency of Taraba State in 2019 by God’s grace.
I know that there are going to be other aspirants from your constituency when the time comes. What advantages do you think you have above other aspirants?
I will say that I am a grass root person and already, I have structures on ground in my constituency. Also long ago, I have been helping my people. I have a foundation called Anty-Zee Foundation. It is a humanitarian foundation that helps poor patients who cannot afford their medical bills in the hospitals.
We help inmates regain freedom by paying the token fee that must have kept them in prisons. We also help the orphanages.
Again, the foundation has women empowerment programme, which has so far empowered over 68 women in my constituency. It also helps students in different areas, such as payment of their school fees, and so on, even before the ambition came.
So, I think, so far so good, no aspirant from my constituency can compare himself or herself to my achievements in my area. I think I have an edge over them and then I think it is high time we have a female legislator from this area in the Green Chambers. It has never happened before.
What actually prompted you to want to represent your people in the House of Representatives?
Having been a pioneer member of APC in Taraba State, a grass root mobiliser and also director in Senator Aisha Alhassan’s gubernatorial campaign team and also a director in the APC state campaign council, I have transversed the length and breadth of the state. So I know the plight of my people.
I have seen how backward my constituency is. The level of poverty is alarming. And as a woman we are wired to be emotional, sympathetic and also have more empathy. These emotions have also played a great role in my decision to run so as to enable me bring the desired better life for my people
What are the reasons for this backwardness in your constituency?
Yes, I will attribute these problems to bad governance and the general leadership problem in the country over the years. Also, the 16 years of misrule in the country is equally responsible. This has descended down to the grassroots. The rural areas are worse hit by that.
If you visit some villages, you can hold poverty with your hands. It is so bad that during our campaign with my sister, she was crying, because of what we saw in those communities. In one of the communities we visited, we saw cows drinking water from the same source of water the people use . So such things prompted me to contest for the House of Representatives.
I know that before now, some persons have represented this constituency in the House of Representatives. How have they tried to solve these problems you mentioned?
Yes, definitely some individuals have represented my constituency and with all due respect they have performed to the best of their abilities. I will make sure I build on whatever success might have been achieved over the years and as a grass root person who is very much in touch with my people, I will do much more in sha Allah.
More on the challenges facing your constituency, if elected into the House of Representatives in 2019, how are you going to tackle these problems?
Having identified the problems, I will priotise them in order of most urgent and I will lobby my colleagues and the various agencies involved to make sure succor gets to my people. I will also ensure that whatever constituency project that will be embarked on, will emanate from the people, since they are the ones that know where the shoe pinches them. This will give them a sense of belonging and they will also take ownership of whatever project they decide they want.
I will ensure that I present people-oriented bills that will directly impact on the people in areas of healthcare, education, especially girl-child education. Also, I will make sure I am very vocal when I need to be and subtle when I also need to in the chambers so as to bring to the forefront the plight of my constituents, hence bringing succor to them. .
I will as well, strengthen my foundation and enlarge its scope so as for it to reach a wider range of people In summary I will be a very active and visible member of the Green Chambers and will be in the forefront to fight for the down trodden.
Who is backing you in this project?
My people are the ones backing me. There have been calls from my people since 2015 for me to contest. I would have been in the Green Chambers by now, but I believe that God’s time is always the best. I can tell you that there is so much pressure on me to come out. Groups visit my parent to beg me to aspire, because they know what I can do.
For record purposes, what are you political background?
I come from a very politically-inclined family. My father, Alhaji Abubakar Ibrahim (Sarkin Ayyuka Muri) is a known politician in my state. In fact he is a political gladiator in my state. He was the convener of PDP in Taraba State, chairman NPN, during the period of former president Shehu Shagari and state chairman, NRC.
Also, my brother, Senator A. A. Ibrahim became a two-time senator. My sister, Aisha Alhassan was a senator and then a governorship candidate in Taraba State.
I have also been in politics right from my school days at my level. That is why I said that I am from a family with political background.
What is your advice to your supporters out there?
I advise them to keep the tempo, because if you visit my constituency now, all you hear is Anty-Zee, Anty-Taraba. So, I want them to keep that tempo and be patient with anything that comes their way and then keep on praying, because by the grace of God it shall be well.