Dr. Ramatu Tijani Aliyu: A Woman of the People By Zayd Ibn Isah
“Nothing discloses real character like the use of power. It is easy for the weak to be gentle. Most people can bear adversity. But if you wish to know what a man really is, give him power.”
For over a century, the above popular quote was wrongly credited to the iconic 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. But after vigorous fact-checking by several news agencies, it was discovered that Robert G. Ingersoll—a famous American politician, actually uttered those words. There are a plethora of famous quotes that have been wrongly attributed to popular figures over the years. But that may likely be a discussion for another day.
Now, to the main purpose of this article: If Robert G. Ingersoll were still alive today, I would have used my hard-earned money and travelled all the way to the United States, just to seek his express permission in order to rephrase his famous quote on Abraham Lincoln. As part of his famous speech, Ingersoll had said: “If you want to find out what a man is to the bottom, give him power. Any man can stand adversity — only a great man can stand prosperity. It is the glory of Abraham Lincoln that he never abused power only on the side of mercy.”
I would rephrase that famous quote, to suit the character and personality of my “Mummy”—the tested and trusted Honourable Minister of State for FCT, Dr. Ramatu Tijani Aliyu. This is because Ingersoll might have well have had the unwavering Honourable Minister at heart when he paid that glowing tribute to America’s most iconic President, simply because Abraham Lincoln and Hajiya Ramatu Tijani have one thing in common – the spirit of humility.
You may be wondering why I called this woman my “Mummy”, knowing full well that my real mother is alive and comfortably relaxed in her home. Presently, the Honourable Minister has adopted “sons” and “daughters” scattered across the length and breadth of this country. And she mentors every single one of them. Young and old, men and women, Muslims and Christians: she relates with all of them as if they are her real children. At this point, there is no gainsaying the fact that Dr. Ramatu Tijani is a true woman of the people.
On June 12, 1970, Dr. Ramatu Tijani Aliyu was born in Wuse, Abuja to the family of late Alhaji Mamman Sidi Ali, who was the Bawan Allah of Lokoja in Kogi State. Bawan Allah can loosely be translated in Hausa as slave or servant of God. So, if you are wondering how Dr. Ramatu Tijani can be at once so powerful, yet humble and God-fearing, wonder no more. After all, a lion can never give birth to a goat. Now married to Alhaji Ahmed Tijani, a consummate banker and philanthropist, the Honourable Minister’s rise in politics has been nothing short of spectacular.
Hajiya Ramatu Tijani did not become a legend in her lifetime by merely staying within the confines of a comfort zone, waiting for miracles to occur. Rather, it was by sheer hard work and determination to succeed that she touched greatness. Her first work experience was at the Ministry of Works and Housing, where as a corp member, she performed her duties exceptionally well. She would later joined AZAH Intermediaries Nigeria Limited, a Civil Engineering construction firm. It is here that she went on to change the fortunes of the company as its Managing Director.
In 2004, Hajiya Ramatu, nee Sidi, was appointed Special Adviser on Women Affairs, Youth and Social Development to then Chairman of the Gwagwalada Area Council, FCT, Abuja. And that marked her foray into politics. The rest, as they say, is history.
Her appointment as the Honourable Minister of State for FCT did not come as a surprise to many, except to those who have not been keenly following her professional and political trajectories. Dr. Ramatu Tijani has also been in the gullies with President Muhammadu Buhari, since time immemorial. As such, her loyalty to Mr. President has never and will never be in doubt. After she unsuccessfully vied to represent Kwali/Abaji Federal Constituency at the National Assembly in 2007, she was appointed Vice National Chairman of All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP), which was the leading opposition party at the time. Thereafter, she was appointed the National Women’s Leader of the party in 2010, the same year she contested and won the election to be President of the Council of African Political Parties in Khartoum, Sudan. Thus, she handled the affairs of both offices simultaneously with commendable diligence and a unique touch of finesse.
And in 2014, after the historic merger of three political parties that caused the biggest political upset since Nigeria’s return to democracy, she was appointed the Women Leader of the new All Progressiveʼs Congress (APC), a position she held until 2018.
All in all, Dr. Ramatu Tijani Aliyu has not put a foot wrong ever since she was appointed the Honourable Minister of State for FCT in 2019 by President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR. And true to her nature, she has been working assiduously for the good people of the FCT. It is on record that she has embarked on several developmental projects in health, security, rural and urban development, etc.
Recently, President Muhammadu Buhari approved the constitution of three boards in the Federal Capital Territory Administration. A letter from the Office of the Chief of Staff to the President disclosed that the approval was sequel to a request made by the FCTʼs Minister of State, Dr. Ramatu Tijani Aliyu, in a letter dated December 21, 2022. The constituted boards under the supervision of the Honourable Minister of State are FCT Universal Basic Education, FCT Area Council Service Commission, and FCT Primary Health Care Board respectively.
The reward for hard work is more work, they say. But for people like Dr. Ramatu Tijani, newer challenges are not just obstacles to overcome, but also opportunities to emphasise personal and professional competence. In her duties and her dealings with people, the Honourable Minister has done more than enough good. Surely, her name will be written on the eternal sands of time—never to fade from memory, and posterity will forever judge her kindly.
Zayd Ibn Isah writes from Abuja via [email protected]