Bolanle Ashabi Sarumi-Aliyu aka BASA is a governorship aspirant under the platform of National Interest Party, NIP, in Oyo State. The amiable and ebullient woman was born in March, 1979 at the University College Hospital UCH, Ibadan to the family of Chief Honorable Ali Balogun Sarumi and Mrs Jean Balogun Sarumi. She is married to a Nigerian husband with children. She is indeed a typical Oyo woman and she speaks Yoruba fluently.
She completed both her primary and secondary education at Ebire Nursery and Primary School, Felele, Ibadan and St Louis Grammar School, Mokola, Ibadan respectively. She also attended Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, U.K where she studied Social Policy.
She is the CEO of Bees Bridal Ltd and also Mia Uniform. She has lived and worked in Nigeria for over 30 years and have been engaged in various projects and programmes at all levels especially at the grassroots. In this interview with OJO PETER, she dwells extensively on why she wants to be the governor of Oyo State, her pet project and other sundry issued. Excerpts:
It is rare seeing women in politics. If you become the governor of Oyo State, what will you do differently?
This is actually the first time that a woman would be presented as a candidate of a political party in Oyo State which is actually of an advantage to me.
Women in seats of power all over the world are doing very well for their people. A woman will do it better as a governor in Oyo State. Naturally, women have more compassion and this would translate to better welfare for our people. I would not rest until every son and daughter of Oyo State and even non-indigenes that are resident in Oyo State can stand with dignity and pride in pursuit of their happiness.
As the first female Governor in Nigeria, I will garner more support from the international community; they will come in with support to ensure that my administration succeeds. I have confidence that Oyo State will witness the highest level of direct foreign investment, developmental grants and others. This would definitely translate to massive job creation for our people, improved infrastructure, more funds into education and health, and so on.
More importantly, I will be the ‘People’s Governor’ that will connect with the people directly, be visible, build trust and confidence. I will know my people ‘literally’, where they live, what they do, how they sleep, who is sick at any point in time, who is widow, who is orphan, how many children were born where and when, who died today or yesterday, who is unemployed, who is enjoying government benefits and who is not, who pays tax and who doesn’t.
I will run a Smart-State because that’s the only way I can really govern my people the way they ought to be governed. I will be a mother for all.
I will also say it here that I founded Childhood Bridge International Initiative and BASA Foundation, both of which are non-governmental and non-profit making organizations, crusading to up-lift the less privileged in our society.
Your party National Interest Party, as the name implies, is it that the interest of the masses will be its utmost priority?
Our policies would be centered more on the people’s welfare and this will cut across improved access to medicare, quality education for all, rapid community development, enhanced security, women and child rights, agricultural revolution and so on. Our utmost goal is to create a State or country where people should not be too poor to live, where poverty level will be drastically reduced and my people, our people, can live with the dignity that they deserve as citizens of this great nation.
Families need to be helped; they cannot do it on their own. There is no country that is doing well today that does not take care of its people’s welfare directly or indirectly. Nigerian families shoulder everything, I mean everything in its entirety. It is not fair to see families with incomes less than 40,000 naira having to send two or more kids to school and pay fees in full, hospital bills in full, pay house rents in full, care for their elderly and relatives that are less privileged, and so on. Many parents keep more than one job or have both parents and children laboring just to survive consequently, the quality time we ought to give our kids suffer and this is contributing to all manner of waywardness we see in our children today. The primary role of government is to take care of its people and not to watch them suffer or live in misery.
My manifesto will have direct and positive impact on all Oyo State citizens and residents irrespective of their gender, religion, culture, class, political affiliation and others.
Why do you think women are running away from politics? What was the reaction of your husband when you told him your aspiration to vie for gubernatorial post?
The 3 F’s are the main reasons many women avoid politics: That is Fear, Finances and the Frivolous Offers the so called men in power put across to them.
Fear as we all know emanates from the violence associated with our politics. I will advise women not to be afraid anymore for what will be will be and I will rather live a life well spent and do all I dream to do than say “what if”.
Finances: it’s been a challenge to many women and even myself, but I am not worried about this because I believe that most of our people have gotten smarter. As women, we would support each other and also get support from well-meaning Nigerians (men and women).
Frivolous Offers: Personally, I have had some challenges from very old men in politics and have told them point blank that you mind how you speak to me and don’t even disrespect women around me and I won’t disrespect you too. So I think the women have to come out bold and brave for we can’t continue to fold our arms and let the country fail on us. In real sense of things, we are their Mothers.
My husband is fine with what I do because he knows how deep my passion is to serve the people. He has been supportive right from the onset even with my foundations. He believes Oyo State needs me, especially the women and children.
In what way has your dad’s status as an astute politician helped you in your political career?
My dad, Hon. Alli Balogun Sarumi did very well for the people around him and his constituency during his active days, so politically, I learnt a lot from him. I also enjoy people’s goodwill even in places I didn’t think I would be known because of the many lives my father touched back in those days. This has greatly helped me politically and I intend to maintain the good name of the family.
Where do you want to see Oyo State in the next four years? Your advice to the people of Oyo State?
My dream is that of a prosperous Oyo State, a new Oyo that takes responsibility for its people, one that guarantees housing as a human right, medicare for all (proactive and reactive), all-inclusive and responsive government, assured women’s right, social safety nets where people should not be too poor to live, support for the elderly, job creation or engaging the unemployed, rapid community development, education for all and enhanced internal security.
I want to see Oyo State as a modern self-sufficient state in the next four years, a state that will truly set the pace.