She is from Ibagun ward in Ilorin East local government of Kwara State and a two-time Kwara House of Assembly lawmaker. In this interview with HEAD POLITICS, MUMINI ABDULKAREEM, House of Representatives aspirant for Ilorin East/South federal constituency, Hon Nimota Aduke Ibrahim talks about why she is the contestant to beat among those gunning for the ticket and other sundry issues. Excerpts:
Why do you think your people should hand you this ticket among other contestants?
Simply because I have a mission and vision to serve humanity and I began from the lower level. My stint into politics started with contesting the grassroots election for the chairmanship of the then Ilorin East local government which is now East and South that now constitute the constituency I am aspiring to represent. It gave me opportunity to get closer to the people across party lines. The relationship formed a solid foundation for me politically which has continue to grow. I was able to understand some of their problems and the only way to assist them meaningfully was to represent them well politically. From my stint with the CNC under the leadership of late Baba Saraki, I subsequently became the state secretary of the party for three terms which gave me the opportunity to soar and build friendship and connections within and outside the state. I later became commissioner at different times shortly under late Governor Muhammed Lawal and Dr Bukola Saraki which exposed me to how the executive works. In 2011, I contested for the House of Assembly and won. Legislation is a serious business if you really want to make an impact contrary to what some people say that they just sit and do nothing. There is a wider and bigger opportunity to help my constituency going to the House of Representatives and I believe in my ability and capability to attract benefits for my people.
You said you have positively impacted your community in previous positions you have held. The readers want to know what you have really done?
As a party secretary, I was able to mobilise and exposed so many youths into politics and some of them today are occupying big positions in government. As commissioner for education under late Lawal, there was a School Development Account where the government and the school shared the N100 school fees to then on ratio 60-40 respectively, that will accumulate over the year into a huge pool of fund from which requests from different schools across the state on infrastructure development like blown-off roof, bad floors and damaged blackboards among others are handled during the long holidays. I feel sad that the programme is no more and nobody is there to even reawaken it to benefit the present government. During my time at the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, I initiated training programmes when I saw the level the council chairmen operated on how to run the councils to benefit the people especially on the obsolete laws in operation then and I gingered them to get them revisited through consultants and their peculiarities particularly on revenue generation. The legislative council of the local government hitherto really don’t know what to do but benefitted from the training programmes also which made them viable. We also encourage chairman then to go for capital project within the limit of their resources because things were better then. The council rarely audit their accounts before I came and I liaise with the Auditor General particularly on the area of record keeping. On the side of the traditional rulers, some of them were being paid three thousand naira as allowance and they travelled hundreds of kilometres, it was such bad. But I took it up through their chairmen based on the capacity of the council to improve on their lives and I think since then, nothing has been done upon that. The traditional rulers have never had it so good until I came on board and I made sure I got former Governor Bukola Saraki to approve their alliances five times over. It was during my time that we renovated some dilapidated places and approved cars for them. We reinforced the traditional councils to be running effectively. At the Ministry of Land and Housing, I initiated street numbering especially in the new growing areas in Ilorin and embarked on restoration of the city’s master plan. We also embarked on housing estate and the Mandate III project was started and completed by me during the Bukola Saraki regime and after that, there hasn’t been anything as big as that on housing because of the recession. It was also during my time that we did the geographical map of the whole state. At the House of Assembly, I saw a better and far richer opportunity to impact the people through legislation because it is there you can fight to include what your people are lacking in the budget so that the government can attend to it. As the chairman House Committee on Education and Human Capital Development, I revisited and amended all the obsolete laws impeding the smooth running of our tertiary institutions and oversighted many of them. We also worked with Espin, an international organisation that help in the improvement of the educational sector especially on the areas of toilet facilities and water. I also moved motions on fours roads and the government were able to fix Mubo and Adualere which are today good stories for the government. The Oke-Ose/Ilajike/Ile-Apa and Oke-Oyi township roads which didn’t see the light of the day will be vigorously pursued if I get the ticket.
You had problem with some youths during your election into the House of Assembly though you won, how have you gained from that experience?
They blatantly told me they were not going to vote for me and all efforts to get them change their minds failed but I eventually won. But after the election, I was curious about their effrontery. I invited their leader whose name I will not mention and asked why. But he said it was not me but about my party and made several complaints that they did not get jobs and all of that. I collected their names and CVs bit I was sad with what i saw. Some had ordinary pass in polytechnic and failed in school certificate, it was that bad and yet they were complaining they can’t get job. I then did a NECO rewrite programme to pick those who came make two to four credits to start from somewhere. I was able to register 30 of them and was the first singular individual elected that did that in the state which was then being done by government. It was successful and I raised it to 70 geometrically to the third year at the House. I also used my office to facilitate boreholes and other ecological issues.
Your critic believed Hon Nimota Ibrahim is not accommodating and too behave too elitist, what do you have to say to this?
Thank you very much for this question. You see, I am a practical politician and a grassrooter to the core. Those close to me know that my doors are always open and my gate is free to anybody. No singular politician can beat me in picking peoples call and I always returned any call I miss irrespective of whether I have their contacts or not. I know of my political colleagues that doesn’t pick calls. How else is one accessible? What some of these critics term not accessible is telling them what I cannot do because I am a very blatant person? I am not accessible to a liar or blackmailer.
Don’t you think your being a first timer will count against you in this contest?
Firstly, I have all it takes to beat anybody to the ticket because I am coming with my experience of working in the executive and my experience as a former legislator is very instructive because we will just be legislating on a higher and wider scope. So achieving any meaningful impact has to do with having a vision and mission and not being there three or four times. I have my blueprint of going to the House of Representatives, it was not by accident. I know the people of my constituency will vote for me. If you don’t get it right ab initio, then you can never get it right again. I have seen first time members chairing committees and attracting development. It depends on your focus. There is no where I have not been to severally in my constituency whether its Pepele, Gambari or Balogun-Fulani, I have met with the people and talk with them every time, I have never alienated myself from them. As a three time party secretary, I have met and know a lot of people and I have my root in the community. I have my vision, focus and programmes going to the House of Representatives.
What will you be looking at if elected?
As a great youth mobiliser and a trained teacher, my first focus will be mentoring our youth some of whom lacks direction and reading courses that can’t fetch them lively hood. I want to also mentor those girls out there that they can make meaningful impact politically. I believe there is nothing a man can do that a woman cannot because I have surpassed my male counterparts in some many areas. My empowerment will be a departure from the past just like I initiated the NECO exams. I have a vision of working with international organisations and other relevant bodies that can impact positively on the lives of our youth who are about 70 percent of the population of this country and make them employable to compete favourably with other youths across the world.
Your parting words
Let us identify with ourselves, that is the only way we can grow as individuals and state and I appeal to the youths to follow those who will make positive development in their lives and not going on brigandage because it is not in our culture. And they should continue to support the Saraki dynasty ably led by the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki.