The lovely Hajiya Zuwaira Gambo is a woman of many parts she has worked as a journalist with Daily Times, is a Business Woman and runs an NGO. She is also a politician of no mean repute. I came across her in my Secondary Schools Old Girls meeting and was struck by her warmth , generosity and humility towards everyone irrespective of tribal or religious affiliation. This should not have come as a surprise as having left home at the tender age of 10 to school in Federal Girls College Benin with girls from all over the country, this would have influenced her general outlook and approach to life in a positive way.
She is currently a Special Advisor to the Governor of Borno State and recently attempted to be a member of the State House of Assembly. As we go to the polls in a few weeks I decided to have a chat with this exceptional lady who is not afraid to follow her passion in a male dominated society, sit back and enjoy.
Please tell us about your self?
I was born in Kwaya Kusar in Borno State where I had my Primary education before proceeding to the Federal Government Girls College Benin then Bayero University for my First Degree in Mass Communication and a second degree in Public Administration from the University of Calabar.
I worked as a pioneer Staff in the Audio Visual Department of the Federal University of Technology Minna and left as Editor II. I joined the stable of the Daily Times Group as a Features Writer and worked as Feature Editor, Editor Midweek Magazine, Deputy Editor, Poise Magazine and the Supplements Editor of the Daily Times Group of Newspapers. My activities as a volunteer in women organizations resulted in my being appointed by the then Inspector General of Police Alhaji Ibrahim Coomassie Executive Secretary of the Police Officers Wives Association POWA where we designed programmes and activities that impacted positive on the lives of Police families especially the rank and file. At that point in time I was also made the Secretary of the Defence and Police officers wives Association DEPOWA.This is the umbrella body of wives of the Army, Navy, Air force and Police Officers. My activities in these organizations were welfaristic in nature and developed to a large extent my compassion for the vulnerable and marginalised especially women and the girl child. Hence with the transition to democracy, participation in politics came naturally.
Having achieved so much success in your private life why politics with all its intrigues?
Every human being is a political animal, but it’s level of manifestation depends on individuals. My activities have always been people oriented and with Democracy as the form of government it’s natural towards actualizing the delivery of good services to the people of my constituency. It’s that desire to contribute to the growth and development of my people that pushed me into full time politics.
How supportive has the family been of your political pursuit?
I have received awesome support from both my extended and my nuclear family as well as my friends and well wishers.
I know this has been a dream but many times we are afraid to follow our heart and chase our dreams . What gave you the courage to go ahead ?
My people gave me the courage. They have been very bold and courageous especially bearing in mind the stereotype and general attitude about women being active in politics. People ply all kinds cultural and religious sentiments to discourage women from political activism but despite this my people have encouraged me.
You are a grassroots person and have done a lot over the years in your locality. How has this helped you?
I thought starting from the scratch by dealing directly with the grassroots people was the best form of politicking in terms of accessibility to the major beneficiaries of the dividends of democracy. Also I have always been a grassroots mobiliser, my years with the Better Life Programme for the Rural Woman brought me very close the Rural people and that experience alone showed me the genuineness and sincerity of the Rural people. The love of the people in my constituency is unbelievable and the day I went to declare everyone came out to receive me. The reception from my people was amazing and overwhelming.
Do you speak your local dialect and has that helped with politics?
I speak my dialect very well and this has endeared me to the people, even after all these years in the diaspora I’m able to address in our native tongue. It is very interesting!
How are you able to look after yourself and family with all the rigors of politics.
I have been able to marry the two and all kids are grown, which is an advantage of early marriage (laughs). I also have a lot relatives living with me so there’s never a vacuum.
There are a lot of women coming out this time around, what do you think has informed this?
Yes women really came out in large numbers, in Borno for instance around 22 bought the forms but unfortunately the usual intricts of gender imbalance had a field day. Some of us decided to step down for the sake of peace while others were intimidated by the men. The Governor of our state has put in place a Peace and Reconciliation Committe to reach out to aggrievd parties but on the whole it wasn’t an encouraging outing for women
Lastly how are you able to relax and refresh and when you are tired what revitalises you?
Oh!I read a lot and I love to watch Yoruba movies. I also dance also with my friends and grand children and do a lot charity programmes.
Thanks so much Hajia Zuwaira its been great chatting with you all the best in your political exploits.