National Woman Leader of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC), Hajiya (Dr.) Ramatu Tijani Aliyu is passionate about developmental issues and wants the average Nigerian to have a feel of government through quality governance.
She was elected as the President of the Council of African Political Parties last July in Khartoum, the capital of Sudan during its congress.
In this interview she shares her views on President Muhammad Buhari’s 100 days, the direction of APC government on economic development, housing deficit in Nigeria and the new role for women in political leadership. Excerpts.
Assessment of Buhari’s 100 days in office
Two words; quietly impressive. Without injection of funds and devoid of propaganda, we are witnessing significant improvements in virtually all aspects of our national life. Look at power for instance. Just a few months back, most parts of this country barely enjoyed electricity supply regardless of whether or not they paid electricity bills. But today, virtually all the nooks and crannies of Nigeria enjoy reliable and steady power supply. Also, the refineries are now in full swing and operating near their respective maximum capacities, when hitherto, we were made to believe they would never see the light of day again. Filling Stations now abide by the regulated pump price of petroleum products as against ripping off hapless and helpless Nigerians.
The Anti-Corruption crusade is taking firm roots across the country in spite of attempts to derail it. The treasury single account will go a long way in blocking the leakages in the system and enthroning accountability and probity in the public sector.
The Assets of Our President and Vice President were published in line with their promise to Nigerians. You can also see the renewed sense of responsibility and dedication on the part of our security forces from the military to the Nigeria Police. I can go on and on. It’s indeed a restoration of those basics which the decades of misrule had made us believe were unattainable luxuries. And this is just the beginning.
How about claims in some circles that the Nigerian Economy is receding?
Let me start by saying that the President Buhari I have come to know is not solely preoccupied with paper economics but the tangible effects of the economy as it affects the common man. As we are all aware, ours is for all intent and purposes a mono economy, literally dependent on oil which price continues to fall in the International market. In the life of the past administration, Nigeria sold oil for as high as $120 per barrel, but today it’s barely $47 per barrel. In simple terms, we have lost about 2/3 of our national revenue. That is bad news even in the biggest economies of the world.
Nonetheless, as far as President Buhari is concerned, the ordinary Nigerian should be able to live quality life when we have steady power supply, better security of lives and property, prompt and regular payment of salaries as exemplified by help offered the states to wake up to their responsibilities of paying the backlog of workers’ salaries across the Federation. Allied with a systematic and comprehensive upgrading of our infrastructure; road network, communication and an aggressive diversification of our economy which is heavily dependent on oil is top on the agenda of this administration. This will in turn create millions of jobs for Nigerians and shackle the unacceptable level of unemployment in the country.
In any case, some of the studies or indices being bandied around stretch back well into the previous administration and therefore cannot be a fair assessment of this administration’s performance in the area of economic development.
What is your take on the alleged lopsided appointments by the the President in favour of the North?
I think the word ‘opinion’ better captures the views that trailed President Buhari’s recent appointments. And in my honest opinion, it is rather premature in the life of this administration to make such assertions. He will cater to the needs of all parts of this country in the fullness of time; let’s give him the benefit of the doubt. Nigeria is so diverse, over 200 ethnic groups, and therein lies our collective strength.
There are competent and honest Nigerians in all parts of this country. In any case, the President himself alluded to the issue of federal character when he said even if he wanted to sideline any part of the country; the law would not permit him. So I have no doubt whatsoever that he will be just to all and sundry. The issue of federal character should not be raised in piecemeal but holistically. There are still plenty of appointments he is going to make and for a government that is set to appoint on merit and ethical balance, there is no doubt that the best of the best will emerge from all quarters.
As an urban and regional planning expert, how can housing deficit in Nigeria be addressed ?
Any analysis or diagnosis of the problems in the housing sector must take into account, the sum total of the historical antecedents in the effort to reposition the sector. This will encompass a painstaking study into why we are where we are in spite of the numerous attempts by various regimes to bolster the fortunes of the housing subsector of our economy.
On a general note, almost all spheres of our society have been afflicted with the scourge of corruption and this has inhibited growth and development in all spheres, not just housing. But specifically, the housing sector has been bedeviled with criminal intention and lack of planning on the part of stakeholders. The sector contributes only about 4 percent to our Gross Domestic Product (GDP), compared to advanced climes where the housing sector contributes up to a quarter of the National GDP.
This is largely attributable to the lack of political will to overhaul the extant legislations regarding ownership, acquisition and management of land in the country. This obviously constitutes an impediment to easy access to land and affordable houses for Nigerians.
What then is the way forward for the housing sector?
Our party, the APC has a well thought out blueprint to bring the sector out of the doldrums. We believe that housing as an independent sector ought to be one of the key drivers of our national economy as a developing country.
It can contribute significantly to creation of jobs, especially for the youths. We therefore intend to make it stronger than it is right now. Hopefully we will get to a place where it begins to play a vital role as a key component of our GDP.
Significantly, we intend to create a sustainable land mortgage market by reforming land ownership so as to give the common man easy access to title deeds. I am of the opinion that we have a government that is bold enough to roll out a revolutionary program in the sector to stimulate tangible growth. The aim is to achieve a credible housing program which cuts across social classes of the society. A housing program that will bridge the over 17 million mass housing deficit problem we have in Nigeria presently; it is a huge challenge but it is not too difficult for a willing government. Like it is said, ‘where there is will, there is a way’ PMB’s administration will in due course amend the relevant laws to free up locked capital in land so as to create freehold/leasehold interest in land acquisition for the benefit of the masses.
What do you think are the chances of APC in the November Kogi governorship election?
The wind of change which swept across Nigeria earlier this year has not abated. The people of Kogi State deserve better than the back to back PDP regimes of incompetent and rudderless leadership.
Culled from: http://sunnewsonline.com/new/buhari-ll-not-sideline-any-section-aliyu-apc-woman-leader/