The Minister of Women Affairs, Aisha Alhassan, has restated her position that she will support a former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, for the 2019 presidential election.
Mrs. Alhassan, in an interview with BBC Hausa, added that even if President Muhammadu Buhari decides to contest in 2019, she would still support Mr. Abubakar.
“Atiku is my godfather even before I joined politics,” she said in Hausa. “And again, Baba Buhari did not tell us that he is going to run in 2019.”
“Let me tell you today that if Baba said he is going to contest in 2019, I swear to Allah, I will go before him and kneel and tell him that ‘Baba I am grateful for the opportunity you gave me to serve your government as a minister but Baba just like you know I will support only Atiku because he is my godfather. If Atiku said he is going to contest.”
Mrs. Alhassan, popularly called Mama Taraba, added that she is not scared of being relieved of her job as minister.
“If because of what I said, I am sacked, it will not bother me because I believe in Allah, that my time has elapsed that is why…”
“Baba is not a mad man like those calling for my sack. They have been sending it and spreading that if Baba sees this I will be sacked.”
Although the former vice president has not publicly declared his intention, he is believed to be strategizing and building a coalition for the 2019 elections.
President Buhari has also not declared if he will run for a second term despite his health challenges.
Please see the full translation of Mrs. Alhassan’s interview with BBC below:
BBC: Your Excellency, you said you hope former Vice President of Nigeria, Atiku Abubakar, become the president of Nigeria in 2019, why did you make this statement?
Atiku is my godfather even before I join politics, and again Baba Buhari did not tell us that he is going to run in 2019. And let me tell you today that if Baba said he is going to contest in 2019, I swear to Allah I will go before him and kneel and tell him that ‘Baba I am grateful for the opportunity you gave me to serve your government as a minister. But Baba just like you know I will support only Atiku because he is my godfather.’ (That is) if Atiku said he is going to contest; as we are talking now Atiku has not said he is going to contest. Why I said our president in 2019 is because we all hope he is going to contest, but he never told us that he is going to contest. But if he said he is going to contest I will surely do what I told you I will do.
Because if Atiku said he is going to contest and I remain in the cabinet of Baba while Baba also wants to contest, then I have become a hypocrite and I am not one. If I said I am not with Atiku, Buhari himself will not trust me at all because he will say I am a hypocrite.
BBC: Is it not early to start campaigning?
Yes I made this statement when we went for a courtesy call during Sallah festivities, I am not going to stand before him and campaign, besides this is not the time for campaign. Even when my people asked me to come out and start campaigning, I told them this is not the time for that. This is the time to work for the people.
This is the work of my political enemies, they have been going round saying I should be sacked as minister. I never hoped to be a minister, Allah gave it to me If I get sacked, it will not bother me because I believe in Allah, that my time has elapsed; because I believe only Allah do and undo. And you think Baba is a mad man like those calling for my sack? They have been sending it and spreading that if Baba sees this I will be sacked. He will not sack me from being a minister because of this, only if I commit another offence. I am doing my job as a minister with all my heart and I always protect this government because it is a government of APC. And Baba our President, the President of Nigeria and somebody that I respect even before I joined politics. I will continue to respect him as a man of integrity. For those who are saying I will be sacked, they will be shamed. And even if I am sacked, I believe it is my time as minister that has ended. I never asked for it, Allah gave it to me.