#TrackNigeria – I wrote a book some years back, Orchids For The Amazons, which was a collection of odes for mostly the Northern women who impacted greatly on people’s lives, particularly on my life. Those I considered my heroines and role models. Some of these women I know personally and some I never met. And they cut across the different classes of the society – the high, the medium and the low.
I really didn’t care whether they knew or read what I wrote about them but I was satisfied that they deserved every word in those poems I composed as a tribute to them.
Some personalities I featured were, my late grandmother, Hajiya ‘Yarlele from my town who took it upon herself to engage in capacity building activities to teach women how to become self reliant, late Bilkisu Yusuf, Her Excellency, late Dr. Maryam Ibrahim Babangida, my Junior Secondary School principal, Mrs, Liatu Danladi, Her Excellency, Justice Fati Abdulsalam Abubakar who I have never met one on one and many others.
This book is over 10 years old yet I remain happy and fulfilled today that none of my heroines, alive or dead, has ever disappointed me.
I am more than convinced that I did not pass a wrong judgment on Justice Fati Abubakar from what I initially heard about her and my impression of her only got confirmed and further reinforced when I came across Dr. Amina Abubakar Sani Bello.
No, Dr. Amina wasn’t one of those written about in that book but she had the honour of having been brought up by one of them. I will come back to this later.
My first encounter with her was when Her Excellency, Dr. Zainab Atiku Abubakar of Kebbi State after one the of interviews with her asked whether I have met with the First Lady of my state who was also doing a great job on cancer eradication, to which I responded in the negative. What transpired afterwards culminated in my sitting down opposite the Niger State First Lady a few days later. I went there ready for an interview. And when I was ushered in, she received me with a huge pleasant smile. Then we sat and started discussing generally on issues.
The interview did not take place that day but we discussed freely like we were already acquainted and not just meeting for the very first time. She talked lovingly about Dr. Zainab’s programs and her support for her. I waited for two things as I was looking at the time ticking away: the interview and praises about herself but none was forthcoming. I reminded her of the interview, she declined politely and promised that she would invite me again if she was certain that she was ready.
Even without the interview, I was highly impressed by her personality. The funny aspect was she listened more to me express myself on issues smiling throughout even at some points she wasn’t comfortable with.
Few months later I got an invitation. She was going to launch a program of her Raise Foundation, I went there without her knowledge, the event was well attended, I covered it and left.
Intermittently, I went online, picked some stories of her programs, wrote or translated them and had them published. I didn’t make any effort to make her know what I was doing, I just wanted to do it because of my conviction that she was doing a great job that she didn’t care to make noise about.
For me when I am convinced about someone doing something that needs me to express my thoughts about him or her, I go right ahead to pen it down For me when I am convinced about someone doing something that needs me to express my thoughts about him or her, I go right ahead to pen it down without necessarily letting my subject know about it.
After about a year, fate brought us together because I had to be in Minna and found myself involved in some of her events and this was when I had the chance to observe her closely. Just like other first ladies she has her pet projects. Hers has to do with eradication of cancer in women, making life better for those students with special needs, proper feeding for students in boarding schools, providing aids to expectant mothers etc.
It is actually not the projects that caught my attention to connect her with odes for my heroines but her attitude towards life generally.
Dr. Amina Abubakar Sani Bello is humility personified and not all people in the state actually know that she is the daughter of a former president, and for those who are aware, it couldn’t be from the way she carried herself. She has kind words for all around and smiles a lot.
She could break a protocol to chat with someone from the crowd, I once heard her asking someone whether she knew the face somewhere because it looked familiar.
I was there, when some youths were making a lot of noise while she was reading her speech. She stopped and asked them to come and tell her what the problem was. They explained that it was a problem between them but now solved and apologized to her. That was what politeness could do. Some other person could have asked the security to show them the way out for that disrespectful behaviour.
For more than a year that I have been with her, my ears have never picked a negative comment about her. I realised that she hates praises. In fact, her embarrassment always comes to the fore when she is being praised.
In my research, those that worked with her at the A.B.U Teaching Hospital, Shika said that, you hardly ever heard of her but she was always secretly coming to the aid of the patients in need.
So when one day we went for a wedding program in their family house, Her Excellency just got mixed with the crowd doing one thing or the other. She was just going up and down and someone remarked surprisingly that she was behaving as if she wasn’t the First Lady.
And another said it was the home training she got from her mother, Justice Fati Abdulsalam Abubakar who trained them well and taught them the importance of humility and respect for others.
Your Excellency Dr. Amina Abubakar Sani Bello, as you celebrate your 46th birthday, I want to thank you for proving me right for picking Her Excellency Justice Fati Abubakar more than a decade ago as one of the role models that needed to be emulated. Thanks for proving my judgment right.
Many happy returns in good health, prosperity and more service to humanity.