Hajiya Zuwaira Sani Bakori, is an APC female stalwart, businesswoman, community leader and women’s advocate. She was also part of the formation of the party in Kaduna state. Zuwaira is also the convener of the Buhari Coalition In The North, a movement of people of like minds who have been supporting Buhari long before he became President.
Zuwaira, who comes from a privileged background, being the daughter of late Sani Bakori, a philanthropist and Businessman of note in the North, has been using her background to empower the people around here, especially Women Youths and Orphans. Her Foundation “ Yusri-Usra” has done a lot in that regard. “I was born into a large family, and we have been impacting in the lives of the people for very long.”
In this interview with City People’s KADUNA Correspondent ASABE NDOMA, this BUK graduate, who ran for the House of Reps in 2007, but lost, opens up about herself, women participation in politics, and why she is die hard in supporting President Muhammadu Buhari.
Please give us a brief about Zuwaira Sani-Bakori?
Zuwaira Sani Bakori is the daughter of late Sani Bakori I was born and brought up in Kaduna State, I am a business woman; a politician; a community leader; and philanthropist.
The name Sani Bakori rings around a bell, are you the daughter of the popular Sani Bakori in Kaduna?
Yes I am the daughter of the late Sani Bakori of blessed memorial.
Your dad impacted a lot on the northern states. Are you taking after his foot step?
As you rightly pointed out, my dad has done so much, I come from a very large family, a very big polygamous family, he had done so much in the area of businesses, as well as impacted positively in the lives of people in kaduna state.
For how long have you been in politics and why do you joint APC not any other party?
I’ve been in politics, since around 2002 that is about 14, 15 years now.
Why do you joint politics?
It actually sprang up from the issue of wanting to impact, involvement in the cause of impacting in the lives of people, Actually coming from a very large family background like mine, although from a very, very comfortable background, I try to look at life and see things in various angles because coming from a large family will give you the idea, so much on how People live as well as the problems they face day in, day out, so actually I didn’t start politics from the political angle, I started by doing my own little things to impact on people lives.
I have a foundation ‘Youths and Women development’, as I rightly said its spring up from the angle of impacting on lives of the people most especially, the women and orphans, when you look the way things are moving in the Northern part of the country, the issue of the widows; divorcee, even those that are still in their matrimonial home, they are sitting at home redundant without doing some thing meaningfully to also contribute their quota to the up keep of their family and their various communities.
As I told you earlier, it all started from the angle of the foundation named YUSRI-USRA FOUNDATION and we’ve done so much in this regard e.g. capacity building, training on various skill acquisition, and today, some are into sewing, soap making among others.
OK you said you had an NGO before going into politics, why are you combining the two, why not concentrate on the NGO work alone?
As I told you earlier it started with the issue of empowerment, I started the NGO thing before going into politics, infact our efforts and what we have done kind of aggregate the interest of people to put me forward in 2007 to run for the seat in the House of Representative to represent Kaduna North Federal Constituency, so actually the issue of the empowerment as well as impacting on the lives of the people is something that I am very, very passionate about.
So the issue of the impacting on the lives came before the politics, the politics came along the way when my people said I should run for a public office, I saw it as another opportunity to impact more on the lives of the people. So as you rightly pointed out the issue of the empowerment and impacting lives is what I am very passionate and hope it would outlive me.
Where is your NGO based and what have you be able to do for women and youths?
The NGO is based here in Kaduna North Local Government area of the state.
Over the years we have done our possible best to impact on women lives especially in the area of skill acquisitions, scholarship for children by paying children WAEC fees because these are issues that concern the youths. There are some of them when you are opportune to interact with them you get to see that they have a lot of potentials but they don’t have the little means to push ahead and make the best out of their lives, so these are some of the reasons why this work is very, dear to my heart and really very important to me.
You contested for the House of Representative in 2007, so what went wrong?
My contest for the seat of the House of Representative member in 2007 was a good outing, Naturally I had the support of my people before even coming out to contest but I didn’t make it to the primaries because there was a game play, As a woman you know the issue of gender or how would I call it but the people were really behind me, but on the very day of the primaries I was disappointed.
The North is still seen as a little bit- Conservative when it comes to women in politics, what is you take on this?
Let me take you back a little on the issue of my nomination during the primaries, I was not nominated or I didn’t scale through the primaries during 2007 elections not because I didn’t do my home work well, no, because of the outing I had during the campaign, as the result of the effort I put in then and what transpired, even the national secretary invited me to the national party office because they were impressed with my outing and they kind of requested for a compromise to allow things the way they were.
Again at the party level in the ANPP during the late Umaru Musa Yaradua administration when the party formed the Government of national unity for the unity of the country, I was nominated from the party, because of my track record as a governing board member for the National Commission for Nomadic Education, so I served as a member on the governing board of National Commission for Nomadic Education under the Federal Ministry of Education.
You contested in 2007 under which party?
Why do you think women in the North do not seek for elective political offices?
There are a lot of factors, the issue of education, economic capability and also cultural background.
When you look at the educational aspect, in the North although there are some changes now, this is one of the issue that is very dear to us at the Foundation where we are encouraging women to further their education and do their best to stand out because, education is very vital.
Apart from education, the issue of cultural linase is also another factor that causes low participation of women in politics, because of the kind of conservative nature of doing things here, women are relegated to the background. I believe that women have so much at state as well as so much to offer. when a woman beliefs in something and trust in it, they can go all the way to achieving it, even during elections, women do more, life generally is all about the women, the men are always at home sleeping, so I believe women need to do more in order to made themselves relevant in politics.
In the area of economy, because the men are always more empowered than us, the resources is a very big problem for us as women naturally and you cannot take away money from politics, I think the women in the north should strive and come out more for a better future.
What is your Foundation doing to encouraging women to participate more in politics?
Honestly women have a lot to offer, my foundation has done a lot in the area of sensitizing women, enlighten them on how they can also help and contribute their quota most especially in complementing the efforts of the men in the society.
We know you are a strong member of the Coalition for Buhari, why did you decide to be a part of this coalition?
The coalition for Buhari dates back over the years even before the 2015 general elections, the Coalition for Buhari is something dear to our heart.
The coalition for Buhari is an amalgamation of others interest groups that of rallied round, to come together it involves other groups which include, carpenters, lawyers, welders; builders and intellectual so it is amalgamation of interest groups that so much believe in what president Mohammadu Buhari stands for even before the election. The coalition for Buhari also partners with other groups like, The Buhari Support Group; The Buhari Organization even before the election. e.g. In the area of buying scratch card for members, then contribute the little they have, for the campaign of President Mohammadu Buhari. So the coalition for Buhari started since before the election and it played a very active role during and after the election.
Why do you believe in President Mohammadu Buhari?
We so much believe in President Mohammadu Buhari. We believe in his views, what he stands for and his passion to see to the well being of the venerable people and upliftment of the common man, his passion in righting the wrong of where we find ourselves as a country today.
Nigerians are facing hardship as a result of the present recession being faced in the country, what is your advice to them?
A lot of things that happened over the years that warrant the present situation we find ourselves today as a country, a lot of water had gone down the bridge, the past Government looted resources. If I can take you back to what the former UK Prime Minister David Cameron said, recently he made a statement that what have been looted in Nigeria, if same should be exploited in the UK, the United Kingdom will cease to exist.
So you can see the monumental damage done I lack the right words to described what has happened to us over the years as a country. The issue of budget padding over the years, this budget have been padded in such a way that a lot of funds had been carted away from the coffers and no development to show for it, and recently a committee that finished investigation on the downstream industry raveled that crude oil had been stolen out of the country and outragely sold without any thing remitted to the coffers of the country. This is outrageous.
Again we are a country that solely depend on import, but God so kind now, there is a lot of efforts in diversifying the economy by the present Government especially in the area of Agriculture which has now started showing results e.g cultivation of rice
In what area will you give this government a pass mark?
The present government has done so much especially in the area of Security e.g disengaging the Boko Haram terrorist and even moved them out of their strong hold Sambisa forest. I know the fight is not yet over but great deal of efforts have been put in and we are very happy with that, and even the issue of the chibok girls I think about 24 of them have regained freedom, we believe that the government is in the right track and we are hoping that more efforts will be put in place to stabilize the country.
The fight against Corruption has also been intensified with all that is coming out, the kind of money getting back lately. Recently the acting chairman of the EFCC made a statement regarding that, over 153 billion recover from some people recently. Even what happened recently in Kaduna where, the former GMD of NNPC with the help of whistle blower about 9.8 million dollars was recover some where here in Sabo Tasha Kaduna . Even with people voluntarily returning money according to the statement made by the acting chairman of the EFCC.
Again, on this issue of Niger Delta militants we are very happy with the confidence building by the Acting president with trips he has been embarking upon it’s a king of confidence building as well as reconciling and look at the political angle to a solve issues. A lot has been happening we are happy with the new train the present government is taking us into, I think it is a great one, now we have confidence with whatever indicators that they will tell us on the economic growth not those lies that we were always told in the past, we are in the right track as a country now.
People are saying that there are no enough women in APC especially in elective positions, what is your take on this?
The APC as a party is just like any family that has it own challenges, but the party is just evolving and I know that there is room for improvement and making things better, I belief the party is just coming up more women will come on board into electives positions and even in the organizational structure of the party. What is your relationship with the wife of the President Hajiya Aisha Muhammadu Buhari?
Oh! We have a cordial relationship. I have so much respect for her because she has been in the forefront of empowering women and youths. Her Pet Project “Future Assured” is touching the down trodden positively. she is also a compassionate and caring mother.
How will you assess the APC Government in Kaduna?
The APC Government in kaduna is doing well, we are very happy and impressed with what is happening in kaduna, I believe it is all what the party stands for. When you look around alot of development is taking place, structures been rehabilitated drainages been dug, we are really happy with that, The government is doing it’s best and we are impressed with that. El-Rufai is implementing the party manifesto.
Now as a politician and a wife, how do you combine politics and family?
Coming from a large family and having my own family too, these are things I need to do when you feel you have to make things better in the society, such as contributing in your own little way, you look for ways to balance it, I have time for my family, my children and even my adopted children.
How many children do you have?
I have only two biological children and seven adopted children.
What will you like to be remembered for?
I honestly want to be remembered as a humanitarian that has impacted on the lives of the people.
Finally, what will you use your last kobo to buy?
What is very close to my heart is impacting on people lives, changing their lives for the better gives me fulfillment. I live a life of gratitude to Almighty Allah.