By Ali M. Ali
“A grandmother is a remarkable woman. She’s a wonderful combination of warmth and kindness, laughter and love. She overlooks our faults, encourages our dreams, and praises our every success”-Anonymous
About a month ago, Hajiya Hadiza Mohammed A. Abubakar, wife of Bauchi state governor, quietly marked a milestone. She turned 60.Thus she joined the elevated club of diamond jubilee members. There wasn’t any fanfare or the customary exhibitionist public “lecture”.
She discouraged the propensity among fawning aides and wives of local government caretaker committee chairmen to place newspaper adverts to celebrate the landmark. There wasn’t dancing and merriment or wanton consumption. Instead, she used the occasion to empathize with the less privilege and decidedly impact on her forte- Women and children. On that day alone, she empowered 100 women with various life changing items.
That singular act was her way of expressing gratitude to the Creator, Allah (SWT) who has no peer, no beginning and no ending, for sparing her life to the ripe age of sixty.
Indeed, the first lady of Bauchi state is richly blessed. Counting her boundless blessings for the six decades of her earthly sojourn will be an exercise in futility. Consider this. Blue blood by birth, public administrator by choice, married to her teenage love, blessed with well bred children, some of whom with multiple degrees, and raising their own families, respected by her colleagues in the governors’ wives forum, loved by her in-laws and greatly admired by those she mentored. I could go on. The list is endless. Her blessings are truly boundless!
Like her husband, Hajiya Hadiza MA Abubakar, doesn’t look her age. She, like her better half, looks girlish. Governor Abubakar has a boyish “swagger” and energy that leave some of us, his lieutenants sometimes, gasping for breath and lagging behind. Keeping pace with him requires a certain degree of physical energy and intellectual rigour. Story for another day. Strictly on account of appearance alone, Hajiya Abubakar looks way younger than her three scores. Each time she is among her children, she looks like the older sister. Among her well-mannered progenies is a daughter that could well pass for her immediate younger sister. The resemblance is strikingly uncanny.
She looks girlish all right, and her husband, boyish too. His affection for his wife is all too obvious. Nearly forty years of matrimony, and several children together, he is clearly besotted. He had this to say on her 60tth birthday.
“We thank Allah for granting you long life and you are endowed with beautiful face and physique. I’m sure you can win a beauty contest if Islam had permitted women to participate in a beauty contest,”
Mrs Abubakar inner beauty outweighs her girlish looks. It glows and robs off on anything she touches. Her pet NGO, the Bauchi Sustainable Women Economic Empowerment and Peace Initiative (B-SWEEP) bears eloquent testimony. It has changed the depressing narrative of miseryand want among the womenfolk in the state. It seeks to boost “the productive capacity of women through skills acquisition and financial literacy. It is also working to complement government effort by providing maternal and child care delivery services, re-integrating women and girls into the formal school system, enhancing food security through women participation in agriculture and creating awareness and coordinating activities aimed at fostering peace”
Lofty ideals, no doubt. To match vision with action, the B-SWEEP has trained over 600 women, youths, and IDPs in various skills, provision of foodstuff, clothing, and hygiene items to leprosy, tuberculosis patients, VVF centre, Rehabilitation Centres, and School for Children with Special needs. It has provided nutritional meals to 1400 malnourished children as well as the provision of delivery kits to 1600 pregnant women across the 3 senatorial zones in the state. B-SWEEP also supports the treatment of some cancer patients.
Over 100 IDPs orphans and vulnerable children in primary and secondary schools have been given scholarship. It is collaborating with UNESCO to see how they can integrate over 500 women and girls back to formal and non-formal school system. On peace B-SWEEP has organized peace clubs in 10 selected public schools so as create awareness and promote peaceful co-existence among our youths?
She has interfaced with the Ministry of Women Affairs and Child Development and also the State Ministry of Health so as to touch the lives of women, children and vulnerable groups. Over 2000 women drawn from the 20 local government areas were trained in various skills, wheel chairs and other relief materials provided to the physically challenged persons, distribution of food items to IDPs in the state, distribution of food and sanitary items to the motherless babies’ home, distribution of food items to women during festive periods i.e. Sallah, Christmas. Among family and relatives, she is a unifier. A natural giver. An instinctive listener.
She listens to understand not to reply. A self groomed leader. A masters degree in public administration confirms this assertion. She rose to the peak as manager of men and materials as Director in the apex bank, the CBN and retired after thirty years. Subordinates at the CBN still miss her benevolence. She is firm not to the point of rigidity. She bows to reason and values professionalism. Eye service bore her. She is approachable and maternal. Humane and considerate. She is a solid anchor that keeps her family grounded.
These attributes have earned her countless recognition, tittles and awards. Everywhere she goes in Bauchi, she is called ‘MAMA’. This is for the listed reasons and more.
Royalty by genes but she earned royalty by her selflessness. Today she is the “Uwar Matan Ningi” ,”ZINAYAR TORO” “JAKIDYAR BUNUNU” among several similar recognition. She is the chairperson of Northern Governors’ wives forum. She is a unifier. And now she is a matriarch. Happy birthday mama!
Ali M Ali is an aide to Gov. MA Abubakar.