In this past week, the Governorship and House of Assembly election took place across Nigeria, West Africa and it is not any different in Kwara State, North Central, where I was standing as a candidate, seeking to be elected into Kwara State House of Assembly for Owode Onire state constituency, under the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

After the tightly contested election, I was previledged to emerge victorious and declared member elect for Owode Onire Constituency by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), in a close contest, where I pulled 7,521 votes to defeat my rival, Mallam Abdullah Magaji of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who scored 6,957 votes.

Since the declaration of our victory, the people of my constituency have been singing and dancing across the street, while our friends and supporters in the youths and women constituency across Kwara State and indeed the federation have also joined the celebration.

The celebration of my emergence as member elect, Owode Onire state constituency, in Asa local govt area of Kwara State, North central, Nigeria is not what my immediate constituency are enjoying alone, the victory is being enjoyed, shared and celebrated across the federation.

This is because, many worthy Nigerians across the Federation not only invested faith, hope and expectations in my candidature, many respectable people, especially women actually supported us from the beginning till eventual victory.

They didn’t support us to the end, they supported us to victory, so that we can start a journey of a life time, to inspire young girls in Nigeria and indeed Africa, to dream and aspire for greatness.

As a 26 year old lady, who managed to secure victory in a tightly contested election, many media platforms have asked me, how supportive are women in my journey to success, which my terse and two sentence answers have not really done justice to due to election stress. This is why I felt the need to pen this message to properly capture the nature of support I got from women folks across the Federation.

My political journey began with the support of a rare gem, woman, a former Coordinator for Gender and Women Affairs of our group, Kwara Must Change, now a commissioner in the administration of Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq, in person of Dr. Mrs Mopelola Abdulmaliq-Bashir.

Dr. Mopelola saw me as a daughter and took my aspiration as a personal project, not only because of her portfolio then as Kwara State Commissioner for Women Affairs where she sees the aspiration of every woman as a personal responsibility, but also because she’s a major stakeholder in my local govt and she personally led me to various stakeholders, seeking their support for my ambition.

As the person who champion advocacy for Gender Parity in the state even before her appointment as commissioner through the Kwara Must Change platform, Dr Mopelola practiced what she preaches and sacrificed alot to uplift my aspiration beyond surface level, a development that turns many against her.

When the First Lady of Kwara State, Amb (Dr) Olufolake Abdulrazaq became aware of my aspiration, she literally adopted me as her daughter, invested on my ambition and gave me the needed motivation to stand strong.

Dr. Olufolake was always advocating for me, especially when the situation was tough, battling from High Court to the Supreme Court, she never left me alone one bit and her support was beyond measure.

Through Kwara State first lady, the wife of Nigeria’s president, Hajia Aisha Buhari became aware of my candidature and she became a supporter, who always look out for me.

The wife of Nigeria’s president elect, Senator Oluremi Tinubu also adopted me and gave my candidature unquantifiable support.

It often amazes me, how Senator Oluremi Tinubu really got time to care for the aspiration of a village girl in far away Manyan, in Owode-Onire, Asa local Governmentarea of Kwara State, but this is the nature of our incoming first lady.

I can’t also forget the strategic role of the Principal Private Secretary (PPS) of the Kwara State Governor, Hon. Jumoke Gafar, Hajia Samirah Yahaya and Hajia Adijatou, Hadjia Aishat Bolanle Ismail (Iya Lamunle) all of whom contributed in no small way to my success.

The Minister of Women Affairs, Honourable Pauline Tallen wasn’t left out in my support and I was nurtured by her kindness and loving hands.

The Chairperson of Kwara State Internal Revenue Service, Mrs Shade Omoniyi wasn’t left out in our support also and same with Hajia Mariam Abike Yusuf.

The role played by APC state and national women leaders, in person of Hajia Falilat Muhammad and Dr. Betta Edu weren’t little either. While Hajia Faliat often got my back in the state, especially within the party, Dr Beta on the other hand often recommend me for training opportunities at the national level.

The TIC Vice Chairperson in Asa, Alhaja Adupe Adams, and Alhaja Sarat Yahaya not excluding the SA SDGs in Asa, Hajia Aishat Yusuf and *Hajia Habibat Yusuf* contributed immensely.

The unending contributions of the wife of Kwara APC Chairman, Mrs. Fagbemi is commendable.

All APC women leaders in the 9 ward of Owode- Onire played huge role in this success and we cannot thank them enough.

Several women led groups and Gender Focused Non-Governmental Organizations such as (ElectHer, Women in politics Forum, WARDRC, UNSDGN, Kwara NAWOJ, etc) also contributed in no small measures to encourage and motivate me to continue on the journey to my ambition

Others include Hajia Sa’adat Modibbo Kawu, Mrs Folashade Aransiola, Hajia Goroso Giwa and my fellow female candidates within the APC, who all got elected in their various constituencies.

All of these women are the roots and stems that nurtured and gave me their helping hands to lean on.

Although, it is often said that women are the enemies of women, but in my own case, I will say that women are the helpers of women and I have benefited immensely from the the love, and support of these women.

In conclusion, while women have been greatly supportive in my journey, it is still a fact that the Executive Governor of Kwara State, Mallam Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq is the number one supporter of women, not just me alone, but women of different hues. Although, the Kwara Must Change group advocated for 50% women cabinet positions, but Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq did 56%. He went further to sponsor and sign a Gender Composition Law that made it mandatory for any government in Kwara State to appoint a minimum of 35% position for either of the gender.

The governor’s favourable disposition to women have also trickled down to the general society and I have greatly benefited from the support of several people in my constituency, especially men, elders, youths and ofcourse, women.

Rukayat Motunrayo Shittu
Member Elect, Owode Onire state constituency
Kwara State House of Assembly
North Central, Nigeria

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