By Haruna Mohammed Salisu
What about it? It is a Foundation that aims to empower, educate, inspire, motivate and sensitize women to draw lessons from the life and legacies of Senator Aisha Jummai Alhassan, (aka Mama Taraba)
Why does Aisha Alhassan need a foundation? So many reasons account for this:
First; Senator Aisha Jummai Alhassan is from a region—northeastern Nigeria— marred by activities of the deadly and derided Boko Haram sect that finds solace in discouraging western education. The sect through their propaganda and clandestine motives has succeeded in downsizing school enrolments, attendance, and retention particularly among girls in the region. Through fear mongering, kidnapping and other forms of abuse and dehumanization, Boko Haram has exacerbated an already existential problem that has isolated girls from acquiring a western education for decades. The only female politician that can authoritatively and vigorously reinvigorate the spirit of girls in the region remains Mama Taraba.
Second; Mama Taraba, by the virtue of her records and political strides remains a perfect role model for women who are increasingly becoming reclusively secluded and isolated in the socio-economic and political landscape that enjoys relegating women to the kitchen. She was the first SUG female President in Nigeria’s foremost university—Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria; the first Female to be appointed Attorney General and Commissioner for justice in Taraba State, first female judicial council of the FCT, first elected female senator from her state, and undoubtedly, the first female governorship aspirant from her state to be declared winner by the tribunal. These struggles define her as a strong pillar worth emulating.
Third; from a typically cultured lady from northern Nigeria to a woman who influences several women especially young girls, Mama has been a strong political mobilizer. Although her career has not been without controversy, she has over the years of her civic and public life refused to be deterred by any means. Her courageous focus and determination will help mobilize support for many women in North Eastern Nigeria.
Four; some of us may recall that the name—Mama Taraba (mother) in Hausa is earned by her resilience to stand powerful forces hitherto seen as unbeatable. Only a respected mother could earn sympathy and support amidst a patriarchal (male-dominated) society. Historical antecedents of her political tsunami date back to 2011 when she, not only contested against the “almighty” Anthony Manzo, the then serving senator from the state’s North Senatorial district but cataclysmically destroyed his plans to return to the Senate.
The “underestimated” Mama who was seen as a loser even before her party’s primaries, but left the archetypal elites to their consternation after the highly and intelligently contested election.
She was underrated solely because “you can’t defeat the incumbent” factor in Nigeria, but she carefully, strategically and intelligently defied that factor and silenced her opponent in a historic defeat.
Although many political pundits may argue that she was backed by Taraba State’s former Governor, Jolly Nyame, what is known to us and was believed to be behind her victory was the momentous grass-root politics that accompanied her political dexterity.
The culmination of her carefully articulated, well crafted, strategically placed and intelligently implemented political maneuverings gave her an edge and catapulted her to victory over the political gobbledygook of her opponent—hence the name: Mama Taraba! When such strategies are dovetailed to help the cause of the less privileged, more than likely, it will help rescue several women from the dungeon of poverty, unemployment, malnutrition and other social ills that have impeded their progress and relevance in the northeast.
Five; although her tenure as a minister of Women Affairs is hamstrung by lack of resources due to the economic recession that plagued the Muhammadu Buhari administration, her records especially her campaign to secure the release of the remaining Chibok girls who remain in captivity has bolstered her image and popularity. You could recall that her impetus has helped the rescued girls bag Federal Government scholarships and some cash handouts to the parents of the girls —making her a strong advocate for women’s right and freedom.
Six; Mama Taraba has achieved tremendous successes in her career as a lawyer and politician. She is still determined, and hopefully will be the first female governor in Nigeria. It is time to give back to the society. As her admirer, I urge her to make history by setting up a foundation and giving back to the downtrodden women in the society. My amiable Mama, the women in the northeast need your support, mentorship, and encouragement. You are a role model in your own right. Remember that you are not “successful until your successor succeeds”. Our girls are looking up to you to succeed. Please make history by setting up a foundation that will continue to support them even after you succumb to the exigencies of time.
Mama; please follow the footstep of Hillary Clinton, Margret Thatcher, and many other brighter women whom you admire—put up a system that will benefit the human kind—bequeath a lasting legacy that will sustain your name for centuries.
You should know that your Foundation will not only assist the less privileged women and girls in the northeast but would also support and encourage policies that will improve inclusivity and women’s engagement in politics, through effective resource mobilization and support for females politicians in the region.
Although I don’t want to sound political, the foundation will also help expand your political visibility, increase your frontiers of influence in Taraba state and Nigeria as a whole through timely humanitarian interventions.
By the virtue of your position, you are a defacto leader of the APC in Taraba state, your actions, and inactions matter; use your position and influence to touch lives.
I will voluntarily avail myself—with my little experience in development work—produce all the technical support, policy documents and the strategies to help make the foundation a reality. I have started the journey online
Let’s complete it!
Haruna Mohammed Salisu writes from Bauchi. He can be reached at 08063180608 or email@example.com
By Haruna Mohammed Salisu