By Chidi Obineche
she came hard with the dark shockwaves of uprightness and forthrightness, a zeal to stand and exorcise fear and silence. A devil – may- care indignation on the sacred magnum opus; the taboo. She soared at an altitude even angels fear to tread. Running around the gyre is not her buzz. Hajia Jummai Alhassan, Nigeria’s minister of woman affairs evidently is not everyone else’s anchor.
Her courageous, tenacious, bold support for her godfather, Abubakar Atiku despite being in the government of Muhammadu Buhari, a “ rubbernecker” to the latter elicited a surfeiting octave of awe and shock and ricocheted with a thud that will sink the effluvium of hypocrisy in the minds and the land. It hurt and baffled in competing measures. She engaged with recognizable stuff, a stiffly end that heralded the famous “doctrine of necessity” in 2010 when another woman stallion shook off the pervading air of tepidity and insouciance to call a day to the fledgling government of the late Musa Yar’Adua.
In mindless guts and responsibility Dora Akunyili puked then. In critical guts Alhassan looped today. But in brusqueness, ennobling loyalty, both are co- joined. Her effusion to jerk on with Atiku in 2019 may have bored a deep hole of lacerations on the body polity, it may have racked up overt violence and anger in her ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, but it has etched epaulettes of responsibility and mission on her in a world and entity that have criminally taken refuge in pretence, subterfuge and hypocrisy.
A world and nation which the American novelist James Baldwin frighteningly dismissed as “Ignorance allied with power is the most ferocious enemy justice can have.” The chasm between the beauty and seriousness of her calculated indiscretion, the impact and philosophy have conspired to forge an ethereal difficult to subdue. Politicians especially of the male hue are tied to the drooling concept of “political correctness” and “emotional stickiness” and to the eclectic rule of power which often breed demagogues.
Like a hot steed, anxiety and suppressed anger can stumble on its way and peeve the woman or man of thought to strike deepest and safely. What actions and good stories deal with are the horror and incomprehensibility of time, the vista of old catastrophes and the weakening of power denizens. Being strong doesn’t always mean throwing tantrums, standing your ground and fighting your battles.
It goes much deeper into setting paces, re- designing power architecture and brimming with the stimulus of change without flinching. It dines with commitment to deals, and loyalty to man and cause. Alhassan is a scion of friendship, a student of life. She understands the bubbles of the African Elephant and Bella the Black Labrador that friendship isn’t about who you’ve known the longest.
It’s about who walked into your life and dream, and said “I’m here for you” and proved it. She is at her wits end straining to explain that she is a Real Woman; that she is not like a stained- glass window that sparkle and shine when the sun is out; that time is long for those who lament and very fast for those who are scared. In the end, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. The minister’s position is clear:
Sitting on the fence is demeaning. Betraying her godfather like many are wont to do is not the operative ethic. She leaves a trail for the “new dumb” who will eat up the book budgets and mount the delirium of low self – esteem and feisty duplicity. Her step has cracked them open, reinforced the woman’s voice and lit the light of the uncommon souls.
Popularly known as Mama Taraba, she was born in 1959 and was previously a senator representing Taraba North of Taraba State, which she won on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. She was the governorship candidate of the APC in the 2015 elections. A Fulani and lawyer by profession, she was the first woman to be appointed the attorney general and commissioner for Justice of Taraba State. She was also the first woman to become the Secretary of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT Judicial Council and later the Chief Registrar of the High Court of the FCT, Abuja.