Aisha Ummi Garba el-Rufai is the wife of Governor Nasir El-Rufai and Coordinator of All Progressive Congress, APC, campaign project in Kaduna state, tagged: ‘APC Gida-Gida’, a campaign team for the reelection of President Muhammadu Buhari and Governor El-Rufai. In this interview with MARYAM HASSAN, Mrs el-Rufai bares her mind on the initiative and the journey so far.
Could you please tell us about the APC Gida-Gida, which is regarded as a unique format of a political campaign. Why do you think the door-to-door style is workable?
The ‘APC Gida-Gida’ for Buhari/El-Rufai 2019 is a holistic campaign project meant to serve as a Special Purpose Vehicle to create awareness to the grassroots on the great efforts and achievements of the APC government from federal to state and local government levels. Although, even before going around meeting people in their domains, we can tell that a lot of people are optimistic about our reelection because the President Muhammadu-led government is fantastically doing well. Also, Governor Nasir El-Rufai’s scorecard in Kaduna State is boldly obvious. We only feel that people at the grassroots needed to be reminded and educated. They need to be enlightened on the true message of democracy in Nigeria. Most importantly, it is the responsibility of a good and responsible government to reach out to its people and feel their needs and yearnings.
It is in this light that we came up with the ‘APC Gida-Gida’ concept not just to campaign for the success of our APC candidates, but also to note some key subjects surrounding the welfare and developmental issues of the electorates. We are doing this because we believe there is always room for our leaders to fine-tune their administrations and do better. In places where we encounter misinformed opinions and misconceptions; we dispel such issues by shedding light on the reality of the matter while in cases where the people have valid reasons for their complaints, we note their points for compilation and channelisation to the right authorities.
We gather directly from the people, what their gauges on the services of the government are, plus their appreciation or complaints and suggestions regarding their needs and expectations from the government. In doing so, we shall have as a suggestive report, a practical workbook for the APC government to come in and do the right thing for the people by the people upon being re-elected. Going by these parameters, I can assure you that our campaign team is uncovering so many findings and discoveries.
How strongly do you think your campaign is, most especially as the APC is facing great opposition from other parties?
I am optimistic that our great party, APC, can perform wonderfully well at the polls because it is a sellable rendition meant for the success of our dear nation. Of course, no one can tell about the definite future of the results until after the final vote is counted and announced. However, I can confidently tell you that APC this time is much more formidable than during the previous election. This is to say that APC stands in the proper direction to win the elections by God’s grace because it has got obviously tangible and undeniable proof of performance to back its intended mission upon re-election. Bearing this in mind, we have a clear direction of our APC Gida-Gida campaign drive. We have trained our field officers, who strictly engage people on issue-based matters that they should try all their best to connect with the people.
Because the ‘APC Gida-Gida’ is all about people, we trained our officers and ambassadors to understand the need to be more focused on putting a personal touch as they interact one-on-one with ordinary people in their own personal spaces in the state, so as to know from a given poll where we have strongholds and places where we have challenges. Again, it is important to state that in all our campaigns, we lay emphasis on creating awareness for the youths not to involve themselves in political violence and thuggery. We call on them to serve as peace ambassadors. As one of our cardinal points in our campaigns, we have professional teams that go around a house by house to call on women as mothers to take up to their primary obligations in calming down their children not to involve themselves in hooliganism.
Now that you talk about going house to house, there are those who feel you are using your husband’s position for vote-buying, how can you react to that?
Well, people would talk, no matter what you do. Even if you lock yourself inside your room and do nothing, they will still talk! So, I am least bothered about such false allegations made by people who obviously just wish to malign us. How does campaigning become vote buying? Which one single home did we enter to give people money to buy their votes or wield the governors’ power and position to force people to give him their votes? How does the core tradition of the campaign, which is talking to people to solicit for their understanding and endorsement of your mission, agenda and reason become vote buying? We can never be intimidated by their mediocrity. We are well engrossed and focused on our stated mandates. So, it does not matter how badly we are smeared; we shall forge ahead to achieve what we have set out to do and through God’s grace the ‘APC Gida-Gida’ has become machinery of victory for the Buhari/El-Rufai re-election.
You are a housewife, a mother and a politician, how do you juggle around to meet up with the needs of your home front?
I am a wife and mother, yes. But I am not a politician. Rather, I am a politicians’ supportive wife. I am a full housewife who takes her roles seriously and performs her duties diligently. I have children, I perform all my home rituals and I am fully in charge of what goes on in my home even to the littlest of maintenance issues. You see, this is a point that needs absolute comprehension. Women have divine roles to play in the formation of any government. And thank God the APC government is giving us the opportunity to contribute our own quarter for national development. A woman can be a housewife, but she can also have the opportunity to go out to support and be active in any form of governance and government.
So, as a woman, I am up and doing. I perform all my duties without any hindrance as a dutiful homemaker and mother and as supportive wife of a politician in government. I am also an encouraging sister to all other women out there who can lend their hands, voices plus all forms of efforts regarding the progress of women and our societies in general.
What is your message to Kaduna state people?
I want to call on the people in Kaduna state and Nigeria as a whole to know that there is life after the elections. People should see things clearly. We shouldn’t make enemies or turn politics into some violent do or die affair. The exercise should be peaceful. We should know that Nigeria is our country and we cannot afford to have a series of political, communal or religious crises to our own common detriment and destruction. Our youths need to understand that they are tomorrow’s leaders. They have brighter opportunities ahead. That should be their true message of the ‘Next Level’ for themselves.
Secondly, I want to call on all the people to vote for APC all the way and all through – because APC has proven to be a party that can deliver its’ mandates and is focused on the ordinary citizens and masses.