AISHA, OLUREMI, NANA: THE TRILOGY OF NIGERIAN MOTHERS
By Oki Samson, Trek Africa Newspaper
In his 1982 Mother and Child track, Sonny Okosuns crooned: ‘Mother, you are my song; Mama teach me how to sing because I am still a child! Mother, you are my life; Mama teach me how to live because I am still a child! Mother, show me the way; Mama fail to walk in the dark because I am still a child! Mother and child!’
Mothers do a lot in our lives. Nature and nurture, mothers play significant roles. A mother’s womb, a mother’s breasts, a mother’s hands, a mother’s legs, a mother’s body, a mother’s soul, they all play the roles in who we have become. Mothers sing us to sleep like no lullaby can. Mothers teach us like no one else can. Mothers lead us on the path like no map can.
Wife of the President, Federal Republic of Nigeria, H/E. Hajia Aisha Buhari (right); Wife of the APC Presidential Candidate, Senator Oluremi Tinubu, OON (m) and Wife of the APC Vice Presidential Candidate, Hajia Nana Shettima (left).
This is the story of two mothers who are showing the way in the ongoing All Progressives Congres (APC) presidential campaigns. Possibly the first time ever in the history of Nigerian politics, Trek Africa Newspaper observed that the country produced a Women Presidential Campaign Council. That is the All Progressives Congress (APC) Women PCC courtesy these mothers. The great mothers are – Tinubu, Senator Oluremi Shade OON and Shettima, Hajia Nana. And leading them to make this happen is the great mother of the nation, the Grand Patron of the 1200-strong Women Campaign Council, and wife of Nigeria’s President, Aisha Halilu Buhari.
H/E. HAJIA AISHA BUHARI
Jettisoning the honorific First Lady title which many ladies of her status wear, the great mother, Aisha Buhari emphasized that a mother needs no title to function. She took up the immense role to mother this big family and society reputed to be Africa’s most populous nation.
R-L: Wife of the President, Federal Republic of Nigeria, H/E. Hajia Aisha Buhari and Wife of the APC Presidential Candidate, Senator Oluremi Tinubu
As the Initiator of Future Assured, she expressed and carried the burden that ‘one of the biggest challenges facing women and children in Nigeria is access to healthcare services’. Top on the list of these challenges are reproductive, maternal, newborn, child, and adolescent health. With the Future Assured, her advocacy program focuses attention on this need in order to make a difference in the lives of women and children.
Meanwhile, Aisha is not looking away from burning national issues such as support to victims of insurgency, women empowerment, women and child’s rights protection, and education. She has used her initiative to bring smiles to faces of many Nigerians, joy to many homes, and positive influence on the society. Support to IDPs who returned to their communiities; food and relief items to flood victims in Kogi, Niger, and Kebbi states; WAEC, NECO, NABTEB, JAMB support under the Youth Education Empowerment Programme (YEEP); girlchild education; free health screening are some of the impact of Aisha Buhari.
H/E. Hajia Aisha Buhari, Mother of the Nation; Federal Republic of Nigeria being cheered and celebrated…
Yet, her role in the homefront is not wanting. She mentioned in a year’s Eid-ul-Fitr celebration for children, ‘I am going to cook for my husband. Because my children are here playing with you nobody is at home, only my husband. I want to go back home to be with him and also cook dinner for him.’
Aisha Buhari is holding the domestic and official role in one piece. Trek Africa Newspaper can adduce that she is indeed a model ‘leader who had no title’ reminiscent of Robin Sharma’s bestselling book.
In his laudation of the great mother, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu remarked: ‘Aisha Buhari has done a masterful job melding the calls of tradition and the imperatives of today into a creative, benevolent role that has enriched society and the art of governance. She has been a voice of conscience calling us to be of our better self for the good of the nation and for the vulnerable among us.’
Haija Aisha Buhari: Voice of the Voiceless and African Women Role Model
‘Many political thinkers argue the state or country is nothing but a social extension or evolution of the family. As such, if the President is the father of the national family, his spouse becomes the mother of the family’, the Are Ago of Yorubaland and Jagaban of Borgu added.
OLUREMI ‘MAMA’ TINUBU
If Lagos has a lone chance, one and only one, to appreciate the tenure of Senator Oluremi Shade Tinubu, OON as Governor’s wife of Nigeria’s economic capital, it probably would be for her New Era Foundation. The story of the immense challenges that Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu was confronted with as the Governor of a sprawling yet quickly dilapidating Lagos in the wake of the 4th republic has been told on many forums. It is however important to cite the fact that Lagos one of the most insecure states in Africa. The race for fast cash subsumed the value for education.
L-R: Presidential Candidate, All Progressive Congress, APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu with his Wife, Senator Oluremi Shade Tinubu, OON
Pickpockets, 419ers, etc. ranged freely. Armed robbers were so intrepid that they wrote letters to streets stating the date and time they will ‘pay their visit’.
This is why New Era Foundation and the huge impact it made on Education in Lagos was vitally important. By taking up education, it helped to shape the narrative in Nigeria’s cultural melting pot. When you see a problem don’t attack the fruits, tackle the roots. That is the connection between insecurity and education.
The About Us statement on the organization’s website introduced: ‘Since 2000, we have aimed to serve humanity, locally and globally, by making a meaningful impact in the development of women, children and youths through the combined efforts of well-spirited individuals, organizations and dedicated staff. We have done this by promoting public awareness on environmental health and protection issues; sensitising people to the importance of volunteering and community service in nation-building; encouraging societal achievers to willingly act as role models and contributors to the development of our young ones; establishing of resident camp to cater for students during vacation by inculcating in them the spirit of team work and learning various vocational and sporting activities; providing youth development centres and organizing intellectual, mental and physical competitions to ginger the young ones into the habit and culture of healthy rivalry for better performance.’
L-R: Seyi Tinubu; Senator Oluremi Tinubu, OON and Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu
Active till present, it was upon the platform of this NGO that Senator Oluremi Shade Tinubu, OON fondly called ‘Mama’ by the young and elderly alike enacted the Spelling Bee competition which culminated yearly in the One-Day Governor reward. It spurred On this red-letter day, Gov. Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and other Governors after him, would allow the schoolchildren have an experience of governance processes. They attend and participate in the weekly Executive Council meeting as well as engage in other top government activities. What an enriching experience it’s been for the 20-plus children who are beneficiaries alongside their One-Day Commissioners since 2001.
Beyond the memorable day, the One-Day Governorship contest acts as a motivating factor and breeds healthy competition among Lagos students which is good for our education. The One-Day Governors also get scholarship for their university education. A beneficiary of the project, the One-Day Governor in 2015, Idowu Sonoiki who noted that the programme was a turning point for him added: ‘For me through my 1-Day Governor, I got scholarship to study accounting. Right now, I am on my ICAN, I will soon be chartered.’
Revealing the grace that Almighty God has given her to successfully run social initiatives like the New Era Foundation, Senator Oluremi Shade Tinubu, OON disclosed to Trek Africa Newspaper. ‘I don’t know how to do business, but charity I am very creative when it comes to that.’
Mama Oluremi didn’t stop at that! As a Senator who served her constituency, Lagos Central Senatorial District exceptional well for three terms, her motherly affection shines through. Four times every year, Mrs. Tinubu consults with citizens of the Lagos Central Senatorial District in what is known as Quarterly Town Hall Meeting.
L-R: Wife of the APC Presidential Candidate, Senator Oluremi Tinubu; Wife of the APC Vice Presidential Candidate, Hajia Nana Shettima and others
Prime on the agenda of the meetings is the report of constituency projects and social empowerment projects that she was able to execute within the period. The Social impact programmes include Widows Economic Empowerment Scheme (WEES), Petty Traders Empowerment Capital Scheme (PETECS), Youth Empowerment and Skill Acquisition Scheme (YESAS), Elderly Citizens Assistance Scheme (ECAS) among others. Other interventions are education support like scholarship schemes and purchase of examination forms, sporting activities like the Muniru Muse Cup, and other programmes to develop public infrastructure in the senatorial district.
Senator Oluremi Tinubu,OON: Crystal of Beauty, Humility, Charity and Service
As a doting mother, at the end of every session, she ensures that everyone – young or old – does not go home on empty stomach. She ensures that all and sundry get nutritious and sumptuous meals packaged for their comfort. Wife of the APC Presidential Candidate; Sen. Oluremi Tinubu (2nd left); Wife of the APC Vice Presidential Candidate, Hajia Nana Shettima (left); First Lady, Ogun State, Mrs. Bamidele Abiodun (m); First Lady, Lagos State, Dr. Mrs. Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu (2nd right) and First Lady, Kebbi State, Dr. Zainab Shinkafi Bagudu
NANA ‘UWAR MARAYU’ SHETTIMA
To deeply appreciate the motherly capacity of Nana Shettima, one needs to bring to mind the fact that she was the Governor’s wife in the thick of the ravaging, deleterious influence of the militant Islamic sect, Boko Haram on Borno state. The Shettiima’s can be said to have literally entered the battlefront rather than an exalted office in Maiduguri, Borno state since the Boko Haram insurgency started in 2009.
APC Vice Presidential Candidate, Senator Kashim Shettima, his wife, Hajia Nana Shettima and their Children
No one ought to dare the Shettima’s job if not ready. Trek Africa Newspaper recalled that 2011 – 2019 in Borno state – a state which is bordered by Niger, Chad, and Cameroon – was not the best of moment.
Their first tenure in 2011 – 2015 was the toughest. Big cities like Gwoza and others in Borno state were declared as caliphates, hundreds of thousands of Nigerians were displaced, massacres of men, women, youths, and schoolchildren occurred, the Nigerian Army was defeated in Baga, several suicide bombings occurred, and 276 schoolgirls of Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok were kidnapped.
Hajia Nana Shettima: A Mother with a Heart of Gold.
But ‘tough times never last, tough people do’ says Robert H. Schuller. The North-Eastern state does not only require an active Governor, it needs an active Governor’s wife.
Hajia Nana Shettima missed a meeting with the then Nigeria’s First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan. It was slated for days after the Chibok saga. A statement by her spokesperson, Aisha Alhassan noted: ‘The fact of the matter is that Hajiya Nana Shettima is right now in Chibok, she has met with parents of the abducted schoolgirls to offer support to them.’ She also had several meetings with stakeholders of Chibok, officials of the National Council of Women Societies, wives of security chiefs in Borno state, and the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), National Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), Federation of Muslim Women of Nigeria (FOMWAN), Association of Christian Widows, and Association of Muslim Widows. This was to underscore her commitment to providing succor and comfort to the general Borno population especially the women during the Chibok saga.
The daughter of Late Alhaji Usman and Hajia Maryam Alkali had always desired to impact the public by giving support to the needy and vulnerable individuals. Thus, before the advent of her pet project, Hajia Nana Shettima improved the lives of the needy through distribution of food items, clothing materials, poverty alleviation materials as well as business capital to petty traders. Beneficiaries were mainly Widows, Orphans, Almajiris and Tsangaya Teachers, Islamiyya schools and other vulnerable groups like sick, prison inmates and physically challenged persons.
To encourage teachers of Tsangaya (that is traditional Islamic Education), she donated 100 bags of Rice and Beans, 100 Jerry Cans of cooking Oil, and a power generating set to each of the 100 Tsangaya centers.
Similarly, 100 Tricycles (Keke Napep), Pasta Milling machines, sewing, knitting and grinding machines were distributed to beneficiaries in what appears to be the first to its kind aimed at providing succour and support to the less privileged.
When ‘Uwar Marayu, mother of orphans’ as she was fondly called finally registered and unveiled her NGO in July 2012, her humanitarian work took wings. The Support for Widows, Orphans and Tsangaya (SWOT) Foundation established a school for orphans and the less fortunate in Maiduguri, Borno state. Named Model Orphanage Integrated School (MOIS) was commissioned on the 8th December 2018 by wife of the President, Hajia Aisha Buhari.
The school is a model school which offers free education to orphans and children from underserved communities.
Hajia Nana Shettima: ‘Uwar Marayu, mother of orphans’
Also, the graduate of English from University of Maiduguri (UNIMAID) has distributed business startup ranging from tricycles, sewing, knitting and grinding machines as well as cash and food items to at least 5,330 persons. Among them are poor women, muslim and Christian widows, orphans, and teachers involved in traditional Islamic education otherwise called Tsangaya.
Her concept of TRIPLE C – Compassion, Care, and Concern – to these categories of people has endeared her to many families within and outside the state.
The mother of three biological children but celebrated mother to many orphans lives a very private, prudent yet accessible life. A regular social function she is involved in are the festive seasons when she joins Christian women and widows for celebrations during Easter and Christmas festivities distributing gifts and food items – a ritual she performs every year even to present. Several humanitarian organizations including Christian and Muslim women organisatons have continued to enjoy her patronage.
The unassuming Governor’s wife demonstrates openness, empathy, respect, humility, and genuine love to those who work closely with her. This is particularly impressive because many others with similar powers usually become defacto governors creating bottlenecks of access to their Governor husbands. Nana chose the moral highroad remaining unapologetically supportive of her husband and focusing on the home and her project, Support for Widows, Orphans and Tsangaya (SWOT) Foundation.
THE TRILOGY IN 2023
‘Desperate affairs require desperate measures’ says Horatio Nelson. Current situation in Nigeria is desperate, it requires desperate measures. As Aisha Buhari exits the stage, Nigerian women and girl child desire effective leadership, Nigeria as a country need great motherhood. Nigeria croons like Sonny Okosuns, ‘Mother, you are my song; Mama teach me how to smile because I am still a child!’ Shall the two women, Tinubu – Oluremi Shade OON and Shettima – Nana heed the yearnings and become ready role models?
Agreed! Both have been through the fire and storms in times past. Both have experienced great challenges which led to great successes while they worked alongside their husbands who were Governors of Lagos and Borno states in 1999 – 2007 and 2011 – 2019 respectively. While doing that, both also replicated tremendous impact in their own right during those torrid years and beyond. Shall they be ready to do it again?
Come 29th May 2023 by the Grace of God, when Nigeria will recognize Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Senator Kashim Shettima as President and Vice President respectively, Nigeria is yearning to recognize Senator Oluremi Shade Tinubu, OON and Hajia Nana Shettima as two great mothers providing succor to a nation in dire need.
Nigeria is expectant that our great mothers are well prepared to take the gauntlet as Wife of the President and Wife of the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Nigeria will flourish again!