While advocacy for women’s inclusion should be given all necessary support by all and sundry, it is disheartening to see some embarking on distasteful adventures that clog the wheel of achieving the objective in every stratum of the society. It is totally condemnable the recent attack by someone under the guise of Jamila Ahmadu, a self-acclaimed Voice for Concerned Women of Nigeria, who castigated the first lady Aisha Buhari’s genius gesture to invite presidential aspirants for iftar in the villa.
Surprisingly, as the public ignorantly condemned the First Lady’s move to mobilise such prominent personalities, little did they know she was basically exploiting the platform to seek more women’s inclusion in politics. Majority of the public was gobsmacked to learn after the Iftar, the ingenuity of Aisha to passionately appeal to presidential aspirants to, when they eventually emerge as candidates in their respective parties, pick women as their running mates. This is just for the interest of Nigerian women. But rather than commend the altruistic action of the First Lady, the supposed ‘Jamila’ and her sponsors chose to be petty and intentional with their baseless condemnation and attack. While the world is embracing and celebrating feats accomplished by women and calling for wider women participation, Jamila and co are trapped in their ignorance and oblivion. Otherwise, how can any sane person criticise or undermine the prominent roles of first ladies in today’s society.
Even in the western countries, particularly the United States where our democracy is drawn from, first ladies have been known to feature prominently in political and social life despite not having constitutional roles. Aisha Buhari’s effort to also galvanise support for a female Vice President from not only the ruling party should be appreciated, especially as she is the only wife of a President in Nigeria’s history to advocate for such. Aisha is never someone to abuse her powers.
Jamila’s claims of the first lady’s lack of empathy and indifference, is not only misleading but a total show of shame. Mrs Buhari is widely known to be sensitive and vocal to the plight of an average Nigerian irrespective of gender. Aisha has shown immense sympathy to vulnerable citizens, women, children, poor and so on. She has challenged her husband’s administration and billowed the supposed hijack of his government. She does all these for the common Nigerian. She is always on the side of the masses. She speaks true to power. History will recognise and register as someone that spoke for the people.
Is Jamila aware the first lady, during this fasting period, distributed drugs and medical consumables in over 6 states and particularly those affected by insecurity. Vitamins and drugs for malaria drugs, diabetes and high blood pressure were distributed in large quantities. Most of her humanitarian and medical outreach were/are done without Government funding or intervention except in few cases of collaboration with some govt agencies through their CSR arms. She gives and keeps giving and yet she is abused mostly by some misinformed northerners. In Kano for instance, a total of 1900 bags of 50kg rice, 50kg sugar and 100kg millets were given to the most vulnerable. The measure is not small. The first lady is regular with gestures of this nature; whether at Christmas or sallah. During the COVID-19 pandemic she was everywhere. It breaks one’s heart when one reads piece such as Jamila’s.
Aisha never commandeered presidential aspirants to the villa. The invitation was courteous and the meeting purely bi-partisan. No presidential aspirant that attended the parley has reported of harassment or imposition. Using her influence, she advocated for the good and interest of all Nigerian women. The writer and ‘his’ sponsors should know that Nigeria is developed past the medieval age of misogynistic dominance. So, to come out and criticise Aisha’s gesture in a poorly written piece is insanity at its early stage. Even the current US President, Joe Biden, recognized the importance of women’s political participation, as evidenced by his choice of Kamala Harris as his running mate. This strategy not only made him popular but was also credited with his electoral success.
Similarly, the number of women elected as Presidents, Prime Ministers, members of parliament and other political positions has steadily increased globally in recent decades. They generally perform excellently compared to most of their male counterparts. Angela Merkel, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, and Dilma Roussel were all powerful women who contributed significantly to their countries’ socioeconomic development. Justice Maryam Aloma Mukhtar, Sandra Day O’Connor, Loretta Lynch and Ketanji Brown Jackson were all outstanding officers.
Notably and surprisingly so, ‘Jamila’ seems to be someone that is knowledgeable with the scripture, but forgets the hadith cautions against insulting, cursing and being vulgar to others. It is shameless that as a good Muslim, she does not avoid things that are of no concern to her, as the Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.) said “Part of the perfection of someone’s Islam is his leaving alone that which does not concern him”. Therefore, the write-up and Jamila’s display of shame totally negates the teaching of the Holy Prophet and the religion she claims. Though the writer’s choice of Jamila may be just a pen name, however, if truly she is a woman, then there is every truth in the saying that women are their own worst enemies. Or is it possible that this Jamila can take a step and unveil her identity
Laraba Ayuba is CEO
Advocacy For Women’s Inclusion in Governance