I am very passionate on women issue and development – Bauchi First Lady | Independent Newspapers Limited
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I am very passionate on women issue and development – Bauchi First Lady

Posted: Feb 11, 2016 at 11:37 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

Hajia Hadiza Mohammed Abubakar is the wife of the Bauchi State Governor. The Bauchi state First Lady in her effort to putnsmile on the face of the less privileged in the state has initiated a Non Governmental Organization known as Sustainable Women Economic Empowerment and Peace Initiative. In this interview with Correspondent Patience Ogbodo-Iwuagwu, she speaks on the objectives of the NGO, her passion for the vulnerable group among others.


Can you tell us your background?

I am an indigene of Katsina state,,i was born and brought up in Kano. I did my primary school in Rafin Daddy primary school Katsina from 1963 to 1970 , I did my secondary school in Government Girls college Kano, where I graduated with WASC certificate in 1974, I got enrolled into  Ahmadu Bello University Zaria where I did my school of basic study for a year, before I enrolled in a degree Programme , I graduated in 1978 with a BA honours in English and Literature . I was fortunate to go back  to the same university in 2006 where I did my MSC in Public Administration. I worked with Nigeria Television Authority for 10 years, I left NTA as a Manager in 1990, I then joined Central Bank as a Manager, I worked with CBN for 20 years , I rose from the rank of Manager to a level of a Director before I voluntary retired in 2011 to pursue other endeavors. I am happily married with 5 children and 5 grand children.

Can you tell us the aim of your NGO?

I initiated a Non Governmental Organization known as Sustainable Women Economic Empowerment and Peace Initiative. I initiated the NGO as a complementary effort to support the Executive Governor of Bauchi state in its drive towards uplifting the living standard of the people of Bauchi state. The NGO is focused on anchoring issues pertaining to women and children, the aim is to empower women and to uplift the living standards of women both in the urban and rural areas to improve food security through the participation of women In intergrated family especially in the rural areas . The first main objective of the NGO is Empowerment , we want to improve the productive capacity of women by providing them with income generating skills so that they can be financially independent and be useful to themselves and to their families, in this regard we train them on skill acquisition and we will also teach them financial literacy so that the business they do can be properly managed and be sustained. The second obejective is on maternal and infant health, we want to encourage women to have access to quality health care and to also improve the health services for children , luckily for us, the state government has initiated his five point health agenda and the second agenda is on maternal and infant health, so we want to key into that and support the Government by way of making sure that women have access to quality health care especially pregnant women and children, In this regard government has approved 3 medical health care for under five children . The third one is on education, even though a lot of progress has been made but there is still a lot to be done in the area of girl child education in the North and Bauchi inclusive but the NGO has its special focus in this regard and the focus is education of girls and  women who have dropped out of school so we want to re-integrate this group of young women and take them back to the formal system of education, this is by way of offering them a second chance, there is a growing number of women who have gone to school but could not finish due to poverty and failed marriages, so we want to ensure the future of women in this regard by re-integrating them back into formal school system. The forth one is women in Agriculture, we want to ensure food security especially in the the rural areas, we will go into intergrated farming so that women will participate in production, packaging and marketing of their products and services. We will go into poultry, fish farming, backyard gardening,animal farming in order to improve food security. The last objective is peace, there is no where meaningful development that can take place if there is no security, we need an enabling environment to guarantee the success of all this programs, we included peace because of the situation we find ourselves in the North East region due to the insurgency and Bauchi  is part of North east region, we have a large number of Internally Displaced Persons and those that are mostly affected are women and children so we want to preach the message of peace, we want to create awareness, we want to encourage peaceful coexistence so that we can guarantee security and development, we want to work with government to encourage peace in schools,so that we can catch them young and we will also engage in workshops and seminars so that we can reduce and minimize youth radicalism. Essentially this are five core objectives but each objective has strategic objectives through how we intend to achieve the main objectives but all the aim is to ensure social economic development in the state most especially vulnerable groups which are women and children, we hope to create or establish an ultra modern women centre in the state headquarters and concentrate on intergrated farming in the rural areas.

What is your plan to revive the married women secondary school in the state as the school needs urgent attention due to its dilapidated state?

I am aware of those schools but I dont know the performance because I have not done any research or investigation to establish the performance of the schools but like I said we are going to collaborate with goverment and various stakeholders to ensure that we achieve this objectives, the issue of schools for married women will fall under our objective for education. On our objective of the-integration, when we talk about this re-integration, we are talking of those we have as second chance at education, this kind of schools falls under this category, we are going to look at them and see how will can make them functional and see how we can also improve on what is already on ground.

Women are usually given soft loans but they don’t invest it wisely because there is no follow up, what measures are you putting in place to make sure that the empowerment will impact positively in their lives by ensuring they make good use of the money?

When it comes to the issue of empowerment, skills training, access to micro credit facilities, we intend to get the women organized, get them into cooperatives, I do not believe in dishing out small amount to women for the purpose of using it for consumption items,,we intend to get them urbanized into clusters, groups, cooperative societies so that whatever is going to be done is going to be planned and organize properly,  the most important thing is that we will have a monetary evaluation mechanism, what normally happens is that once these program is roll out, whether they are of training or access to micro credit facility, the major problem arises if there is no monetary evaluation mechanism, nobody follows up to see what the funds has been used for,nobody follows up to see what happens after that training so that is the main issue of the matter so we are very much aware of that and we intend to get monitoring evaluation committee so that we follow up to see what is been done with whatever facility is given to the women. We are also going into financial literacy, financial litercy is to teach them how to manage the business, sometimes they don’t know how to manage  the business, so we are going to teach them how to manage the business and how to manage the profit as well as how to pay back profit Into the business.

What inspired you to set up this NGO to assist the less privileged in the state particularly women and children?

When my husband, the Executive Governor of Bauchi  State started his campaign, I was very well involved and my area of involvement was with women. I had the opportunity of touring all the 20 local Government of Bauchi state and I had the opportunity of extensively interacting with several and various women groups and from what I have gathered and seen, there was abject poverty, all indices of government had degenerated, there wasn’t more development. My finding is that women happen to be the most economically poor, they happen to be the vulnerable group so my attention was drawn to the need to help and support women to uplift their living conditions and fortunately for me, even before the time of the campaign, I have been involved in several projects that had to do with women issues because I am very passionate on women issues and development so this is a God given opportunity to support the government and fortunately for me the governor is gender friendly and gender sensitive so my vision, my dream is to have the women of Bauchi state lifted to a level where they will be financially independent, educated and well empowered. The struggle is for the benefit of all the women ,any Government that will get involved in any serious reform must consider reforming the women and the youth because they are the backbone of the society, any meaningless reform will not be effective if the women, children and youth are not  taken care of. The mother, woman is the first teacher to the children at home, she is the role model, in a lot of instances, she is also the bread winner so my own is the passion and the commitment to uplift the standard living of women in the state .

How have you been able to impact positively in the lives of the less privileged in the state in the last nine months?

It has not been easy but it has been very rewarding and satisfying. We have succeeded in touching the lives of so many people in so many areas and so many segments. We have had interactions with people living with disability, we have had interactions with Internally Displaced Persons, we have had interactive forum for women, we organized a seminar inviting all the women stakeholders from all the 20 Local Governemnt and the major point of the seminar was for us to discuss issues of empowerment and to also discuss issues of NGO coalition, we want to see a situation where instead of dealing with hundreds of NGO’s, we will encourage them to come into smaller and stronger groups so that it will be easier to deal with them. We have also had seminars for women in particular during the hajj exercise. I realized that it was neccesary for us to have a seminar so that we can enlighten and educate particularly the women on how to perform the hajj rites, we have gone visiting hospitals to extend our sympathy in the female wards, children and motherless babies home. We have also had interactive session and parties with children both at Sallah and Christmass period. We have also distributed food items in support of Christmass, new year and Sallah celebration. We interacted with IDPs three times, why we are so particular about the IDPs is because of the special position they find themselves in, they are displaced, they are traumatized, they need support, majority of them left their homes with only the cloth on their bodies. This will be a continuous exercise, we will continue to show emphathy. Currently, we are planning to go out on advocacy tour of the 20 local Governemnt, we are going to seek  the coperation and collaboration of the traditional rulers, the women groups, all their various stakeholders in the local government so that we can tell them our objectives as well as listen to them and know where it hurts them most.

It was observed that low enrollment of female teachers has affected the enrollment of girl child in schools in Bauchi, what will your NGO do to ensure adequate female teachers in schools especially in the rural areas?

I don’t know about the statistics, I believe  the problem with enrollment of girl child in school is the issue of lack of awareness and the issue of prioritizing, some parents because of poverty tend to prioritize and place more premium on the education of the boy child than the girl child but if for any reason we discover that one of the problem is also low enrollment of female teachers, we will bring that to the notice of the government and we will also pursue and encourage them to see that the situation is normalize but I am not aware that low enrollment of female teachers is a challenge but we will find out and ensure that the situation is improved.

How do you intend to source for finance to engage in all these projects?

I totally agree with you that is a great task but what we have decided to do is to have a holistic approach, we are anchoring all women issues and if you talk about all women issues, you have no choice than  to talk about empowerment, education, health and all others but we do not intend to start off with all the objectives at the same time or at the same place, we are going to take it in phases and we have also prioritized them . We have engaged in a discussion with a consultancy, who is going to do a need assessment report for us and that need assessment will tell us what drives more and in what location, as I have told you, the objectives are in order of priority , we will prioritize and also take them in phases but ultimately we believe that these thing is doable , all you need is the focus, the resources and the commitment . We will go into collaboration with governments,  stakeholders, donor agencies, civil society organisations, institutions like CBN to ensure that we get the necessary support to be able to run out this objectives. We intend to do it on a sustainable basis, this NGO is not the kind of NGO that we will start now and it will end and finishes with the government, that is  why we called it Sustainable Women Economy Program, we intend to sustain it and we intend to continue working and using it to uplift the standard of living of people of Bauchi state especially women and children even beyond the life span of this administration .

How do you relate with other women politicians going by your background that is mainly administrative?

It is a different plan altogether, but I think wherever experience you have in life, you can use that experience to thrive in any environment, that’s what I have discovered. I am not a politician, I don’t know anything about politics but I have worked with people for all these years, I worked in administration department in NTA, I  worked with Human Resources in Central Bank, I worked in banking operations, dealing with different people, before I retired I was the Director Banking Operation so I was dealing with 37 states so I have a very good training and grooming of how to deal with people. Secondly I have the passion, I like working with people, I like impacting in the lives of people so for me I see it as an opportunity, as a God given opportunity to come and do that thing that I dream of, so I have been able to carry them in my stride, I have been able to mingle with them, I have been able to come to their level and for some, I have been able to go up to their level , it’s just a matter of adjusting the situation and I can say that I am doing very well with women politicians, it is very challenging but it is also a very rewarding experience, I’ve learnt a lot from them and they have learnt a lot from me, I have learnt to go with their tempo and most  Importantly, I have gained people which is priceless.