While advocacy for the inclusion of women should receive all the necessary support from everyone, it is discouraging to see some embark on unpleasant adventures that obstruct the wheel to achieve the goal in all strata of society. It is totally condemnable the recent attack by someone in the guise of Jamila Ahmadu, a self-proclaimed voice of concerned women in Nigeria, who lambasted First Lady Aisha Buhari’s brilliant gesture of inviting presidential aspirants to the iftar in the villa.
Surprisingly, while the public ignorantly condemned the First Lady’s decision to mobilize such prominent figures, they were unaware that she was essentially exploiting the platform to seek greater inclusion of women in politics. The majority of the audience was stunned to learn after Iftar of Aisha’s ingenuity in passionately appealing to presidential aspirants to, when they eventually emerge as candidates in their respective parties, choose women as running mates. It is just for the interest of Nigerian women. But rather than hailing the First Lady’s selfless action, the supposed ‘Jamila’ and her sponsors chose to be mean-spirited and intentional with their baseless condemnation and attack. As the world embraces and celebrates the feats of women and calls for greater female participation, Jamila and co are trapped in their ignorance and oblivion. How else can any sane person criticize or undermine the leading role of first ladies in today’s society.
Even in Western countries, especially in the United States where our democracy originated, first ladies are known to occupy a prominent place in political and social life despite having no constitutional role. Aisha Buhari’s efforts to galvanize support for a vice president not only from the ruling party must be appreciated, especially as she is the only wife of a president in Nigeria’s history to advocate for of such. Aisha is never someone who abuses her powers.
Jamila’s claims of the first lady’s lack of empathy and indifference are not only misleading, but a total show of shame. Ms Buhari is widely known for being sensitive and vocal about the plight of an average Nigerian, regardless of gender. Aisha showed immense sympathy towards vulnerable citizens, women, children, the poor, etc. She challenged her husband’s administration and inflated his government’s alleged hijacking. She does all this for the ordinary Nigerian. She is always on the side of the masses. She speaks faithfully to power. History will recognize and record as someone who spoke on behalf of the people.
Is Jamila aware that the first lady, during this period of fasting, distributed medicines and medical consumables in more than 6 states and particularly those affected by insecurity. Vitamins and medicines for malaria, diabetes and hypertension were distributed in large quantities. Most of its humanitarian and medical activities were/are carried out without government funding or intervention, except for a few instances of collaboration with some government agencies through their CSR branches. She gives and continues to give and yet she is mostly abused by misinformed Northerners. In Kano, for example, a total of 1900 bags of 50 kg of rice, 50 kg of sugar and 100 kg of millet were given to the most vulnerable. The measure is not small. The first lady is regular with gestures of this nature; whether it’s Christmas or sallah. During the COVID-19 pandemic, she was everywhere. It breaks your heart when you read songs like Jamila’s.
Aisha never commandeered presidential aspirants to the villa. The invitation was courteous and the meeting purely bipartisan. No presidential candidate who attended the conference reported harassment or imposition. Using her influence, she advocated for the good and interest of all Nigerian women. The writer and “his” sponsors must know that Nigeria has grown beyond the medieval age of misogynistic rule. So to come out and criticize Aisha’s gesture in a poorly written article is madness in its infancy. Even current US President Joe Biden has 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.
Likewise, the number of women elected to presidents, prime ministers, parliamentarians and other political positions has steadily increased globally over the past decades. They generally perform very well 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 the socio-economic development of their countries. Judge Maryam Aloma Mukhtar, Sandra Day O’Connor, Loretta Lynch and Ketanji Brown Jackson were all exceptional officers.
Notably and surprisingly, ‘Jamila’ seems to be someone who knows the scriptures well, but forgets the hadiths warning against insults, curses and vulgarity towards others. It is shameful that as a good Muslim she does not avoid things that do not concern her, as the Messenger of Allah (SAW) said “Part of the perfection of someone’s Islam one is to leave aside what does not concern him”. Therefore, Jamila’s article and display of shame totally nullifies the teaching of the Holy Prophet and the religion she claims. Although the writer’s choice of Jamila is only a pen name, if she is truly a woman, then there is full truth to the saying that women are their own worst enemies. Or is it possible that this Jamila could take a step and reveal her identity
Laraba Ayuba is CEO
Advocacy for the inclusion of women in governance