Hajiya Khadija Abba Buka, Minister of State (Foreign Affairs)

NB: This
Interview was granted to Asabeafrika couple of years back when Mrs. Khadijat
Buka Abba Ibrahim was struggling to become Nigeria’s First Female Deputy
Speaker.
Today, Honorable
Khadija Bukar Abba Ibrahim
is the Minister of State, External Affairs. Born
into a family where politics and social service is a second nature, this
beautiful lady is a rare luck among her peers. Her father, the late Alhaji Ibrahim Waziri, a former
Presidential aspirant in the second republic and founder of the Great Nigeria People’s Party (GNPP) was
an icon of political emancipation in Northern Nigeria of his era. Khadija, as if born with an apron of
politics strewn around her personality later got married to a political icon in
North Eastern part of Nigeria in the person of the first civilian governor of Yobe state, Senator Bukar Abba Ibrahim
(Who
is presently enmeshed in a sex scandal with prostitutes inside a dingy hotel)  and whose
political acumen earned Khadija a
platform to promote earn her present status.
Hajiya Khadija has earned it all,
from a former Commissioner for Transport and Housing under her husband’s
administration, Khadija later served
as a three time member of the Federal House of Representative representing her Damaturu/Gujba/Gulani/Tarmuwa federal
constituency before President
Muhammad Buhari
recently appointed her as a junior minister in his cabinet.
She is a B.Sc holder in Business Studies and Sociology from
the University of Surrey, England with additional certificate
from Padworth College, Reading, UK.
She initially had the ambition of becoming Nigeria’s first
deputy female speaker at the inauguration of the 8th National
Assembly but fate elevated her to the position of a minister of the Federal
Republic of Nigeria.
This interview is the unpublished life story of Honorable Khadija Bukar Abba Ibrahim conducted
by your Africa’s number 1 Celebrity Encounter blog, Asabeafrika weeks before she was appointed minister by President Muhammad Buhari.
 It is a rich
compendium of the rise to prominence of the onetime commissioner in Yobe State, three time lawmaker in Abuja and present Minister of State,
Foreign Affairs as she answered questions on her life style, politics and
ambition.  Enjoy the excerpts.

My Kaduna Years

Hajiya Khadija Abba Buka, Daughter of a prominent politician and wife of a prominent politician

 

Growing up in Northern Nigeria was not different from
growing up in Southern Nigeria in
those days (70’s). I grew up in Kaduna
and attended Capital School Kaduna. Then it was a boarding primary
school. We had children from all over Nigeria attending the school. There was
no discrimination between Christians and Muslims or North and South. Kaduna was the old capital of the
Northern Region so all tribes were represented. The Southerners also felt at
home in Kaduna because it was a
cosmopolitan town with no cultural restrictions. Growing up in Kaduna as a child was very enjoyable.
The British Colonialists had not
entirely left by then, so we had tea parties with the diplomats as well as
robust relationship with the white community. So, a lot of interactions took
place between Northerners, Southerners and the white community. The weather was
also very nice because it was not too hot neither was it too cold. Though, it
gets rather cold and during harmattan season and in the raining season, there
was a lot of rain.
There were no
religious conflicts because both Muslims and Christians lived together. There
was a lot of respect for each others’ religion. During the Sallah period, the Christians would celebrate with us and during
the Christmas period, and other Christian festivals, we celebrated with them.
So infectious was the unity that it could be likened to the old National Anthem
which says “Though Tribes and
Tongues may differ in brotherhood we
stand”.
Therefore, because of the indifferent nature of the town, Kaduna was one of the best places to grow up in those days because one
was brought up under an environment where high moral values were inculcated
into the children ; where there was love and respect for one another, where
religious leaders preached love and unity of purpose. That was the kind of
environment under which I grew up. In terms of education of the girl-child, the
Northern Nigerian environment had its fair share of the traditional African
belief concerning the place of a woman in the society; that a man’s education
should take priority over that of the girl-child. However, a few of us were
privileged to have parents who were enlightened enough to appreciate the fact
that every child in the home should be allowed to acquire western education in
addition to Islamic education.
How Dad & Mum influenced my childhood

Hajia Khadija Buka Ibrahim….Husband’s conduct brings shame to her exalted office

My parents had a
great influence on me certainly because my mother who is a disciplinarian made
sure we adhered strictly to our religion and culture.
Though we eventually
went abroad to study, she made sure we could speak our language (Kanuri) very
well and would only communicate with us anywhere in our mother tongue. She also
made sure we were home sewing, at least at weekends in England. That was her own little way of empowering us with a skill
for living. She also made sure we knew how to cook because I could remember she
would ask the cook not to come on weekends so that we would go into the
kitchen, clean and cook.
My father who was a
business man and politician then made sure we imbibed our culture and tradition
first before sending us abroad. He always say to us that ‘as a girl, education is our
best weapon’
, with that in hand we can conquer the world. He wanted us to
be independent hence he gave us the best education no matter what it took.
I must say my parents
indeed had a strong influence on me because they didn’t differentiate between
us whether one is a boy or a girl, because they gave us all equal opportunities
and did not favor one over the other.
Memories of Early Years

Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Hajiya Khadija Abba Ibrahim

I have great memories
of growing up in Northern Nigeria especially in Kaduna. We were free to go out on our bikes to see our friends down
the road. The gates were always left open and the fences were not blocked walls
but see through fences with lovely bougainvillea
flowers
growing against them. It was so safe because in those days armed
robbers or kidnappers were unheard of.
So the lasting memory
I have is that of peace, serenity and all round contentment. 
Born with a Silver Spoon   
I was born into the
family of the legendary Alhaji Waziri
Ibrahim
the proponent of “Politics without Bitterness” of
blessed memory. There is no doubt with the fact that I was born in a
comfortable environment but it was an environment where you were constantly
reminded that your father made a success out of dint of hard work; that unless
one was prepared to work hard in life, one would be a failure and eat with the
wooden spoon. That reminder had always been my guide. In my father’s world, his
children must share and do the house chores with the domestic assistants and in
that kind of environment you hardly can make a distinction between my father’s
children and his domestic assistants. And of course, needless to remind us,
oftentimes, we see some of the proverbial “born
with silver spoons” getting confined
to the “wooden spoon” class at the
later part of life because they had allowed themselves to be duped by the
mentality of “born with silver spoon”.
Who made the strongest influence on you, mum or dad?

Khadija Buka Abba Ibrahim…The Minister whose husband was caught pant down with prostitutes…

They both did because
whilst my mother instilled discipline and ensured a good upbringing for us in
the home front, going out to the whole wide world, my father equipped us with
the best education which ensured our independence.
 Childhood Ambition
Imagining becoming a
politician someday? (She asked rhetorically with a moment silence before
talking further) Well, one had grown up in a world where one’s father formed a
political party (the GNPP) and contested to be the President of Nigeria and where one’s father’s
homestead and environment had always been a beehive of political activities. In
that environment too, one had seen one’s parent carry out acts of philanthropy
to the less privileged and communities. Yes, naturally, one was not surprised
to see oneself partaking in topnotch political activities. Although, I had
dreamt of acquiring education, getting into the private sector and growing up
to become a big time player in the sector and being a model for not only
younger women in my community but for the younger generation. Besides, I would
have preferred and will love to retire into life endeavors that will encourage,
strengthen and empower the womenfolk. I accept that one can do these from any
walk of life.
What was your biggest motivation for politics?

A very pretty Hajiya Khadija Buka Abba Ibrahim

My motivation and
journey into politics is an offshoot and still remains a continuation of my
father’s vision and life philosophy which is essentially rooted in the service
of God Almighty and humanity. It all began in 1998 whilst I was on normal
visits to various communities in Yobe,
my state, to attend to the sick, the poor and needy with Medicare, food items
and clothing. Then, people would come to me for a representation of their
interests at various levels – community, local government, state, etc. But at
that time, I did represent them in personal, non-governmental capacities. Then
came 2004, when out of the people’s pressure, the government of Yobe State under the stewardship of the
then Governor, now Senator Bukar Abba
Ibrahim appointed me as Commissioner
for Transport and Energy. Thereafter, the pressure for me to represent my
people at the federal level became so huge that I had to vie for this seat (She
was still in the house at the time of granting this interview) and, here we are
now. So my motivation and journey into politics began as, and remains, a
journey of service to the people.
Earlier on in the interview, you told us how you were able
to study abroad, how did that exposure influence you?

Hajia Buka Abba Ibrahim at a Ministerial Conference

Unlike now, during my
time, there was nothing unique in studying abroad because Nigerian students
experienced regular sessions then. Unlike now academic sessions were fairly
regular in Nigeria. However, overseas training exposes one to practical
knowledge and experience available outside one’s traditional environment. And
for those of us who had overseas industry experience immediately after
graduation, you have the advantage of being constantly reminded of how better
our own environment and affairs can be managed.
My experience as commissioner under my husband

Senator Buka Abba Ibrahim, First Civilian Governor of Yobe State

 

My family knew my
husband way back when he was in University.
He was a friend and colleague to one of my senior brothers. During the time I
wanted to venture into politics, I consulted him as the then Governor of Yobe state. He advised me to assimilate
myself with the demands and challenges of the people so that they would know me
and get used to me first. That I did for a long while and that led to my
appointment as Commissioner which gave me an opportunity to get closer to the
people at the grass root and the choice was left to them. My constituents
actually met my husband and told him they wanted me to represent them. So I can
actually tell you that Senator Bukar
Abba Ibrahim as well as being my
husband actually paved the way for me to enter the political arena.
So, what was the experience like working as a ‘staff’ under
your husband?

Her Husband brought Sharia to Yobe State but….

Given our own
environment where, in some cases, merit is never considered whilst government
appointments are being made, a wife serving in the husband’s administration as
a Commissioner may present an unfair assessment of either the Commissioner
(wife) or the Governor (husband). But luckily for me, two things worked in my
favor. I had said that I gained recognition by continuing my father’s philanthropy
through community services. And for that, many had always advocated that I
represent my people in government so as to attract development to their
communities. This is simply because they recognized my passion in advancing the
cause of humanity and also the fact that, in terms of finance, there is a limit
to which an individual could go in assisting her people. Secondly, the
appointment came at a time when there was urgent need for the development of
the rural areas with roads and electricity and people thought that I had the
passion and zeal to sincerely and seriously execute that mandate. I thank God
that in the end, I never disappointed our people.
The experience was
essentially unique except for the pressure that went with it. Because one had
to be early in office or meetings, say the right things and do the right
things. You must be a positive example and signpost of the people and
government. When others know that the Commissioner who is the Governor’s wife
is usually the first to attend to duties, then, they take the whole concept of
governance more seriously. And my husband believed in due process. He can never
allow you bend the rules no matter who you are. In fact, he is a different man
at work; once you leave the gate of the house and you enter that of the
secretariat, you are under another atmosphere entirely. The experience put you
on your toes and at the same time helped to simplify that “unique” position and
in the end a success was made to the benefit of our people and that indeed made
a case for my higher appointment in political service.
Can you recall your worst experience in politics?
The politics
associated with the emergency of Boko Haram and its adverse effect on
my people. The sad memory hunts me till this moment and it is not what I will
like to remember or even talk about.
How do you face the challenge of running a home as a
politician and woman leader in your zone?

Khadija Abba Buka, will her husband’s act cause her her high profile job?

The challenges are
enormous but not insurmountable. First, unknown to people, the bar is sometimes
raised whenever a woman is involved. How do I mean? Anywhere you see a woman is
adjudged as “capable,” that woman must have performed better than normal
whereas, an average performance is enough for her male counterpart to be taken
as “suitable.” Secondly, you are confronted with effective management of the
home and state / national assignment. Thirdly, most political affairs –
meetings, scheming – in fact, real politicking, are usually night / evening
affairs. So in the case of a nursing woman-politician, you can imagine what
level of resilience that is required of her. But as I usually advice the
younger generation of women, try to acquire sufficient education first, by
going to school and obtaining knowledge, which I did. With that, a woman can
effectively maximize her home front, office management and make the best out of
both.
What would you consider as your greatest achievement in
politics?

APC National Chairman, Chief Oyegun…Very Surprised at Mrs. Khadija Buka’s Predicament?

I am still in
politics, so, there is still room for more achievements. But I can say my
greatest achievement thus far is that I have not disappointed those who
insisted that “Alhaji Waziri Ibrahim’s daughter should represent
us.” I have given them voice in the National Assembly, executed numerous
projects – electricity, provision of water, healthcare, schools/education, etc
to them at my own expense. In fact, literally speaking, I have shared whatever
I earned here (National Assembly) with them. Besides, I have attracted federal
government funds and numerous federal projects to their benefit.
You are known to always dress in a conservative way, what is
your Fashion sense like?

The Very Pretty Hajiya Buka Abba Ibrahim

I am a firm believer
that a woman should be a decent dresser. That is to say she should not dress to
appear in a way that cheapens her or gives her away as desperate. Again, I
believe that in dressing, we should see ourselves as role models to others. And
please, don’t be mistaken. This has nothing to do with religion. In all
communities anywhere in Nigeria, we all know what amounts to indecent dressing.
Even in the urban areas where some of us live, when you appear indecently,
people around you will know. So my fashion psyche is that I should always
appear and be seen as a role model for the younger generation.
So, what do you hate in people?
Honesty they say is
the best policy. I hate dishonesty. As a leader, I have learnt how to tolerate and
use the goodness in me to change the character ills of others. I don’t hate
people; I only hate dishonesty in people.
If given another chance to live your life as the daughter of
the great politician, Waziri Ibrahim, what would you do differently?

Hajiya Khadija Buka Abba Ibrahim (Minister of State for Foreign Affairs)

As human beings, we
cannot be perfect like God is. But we should always strive to be. If given
another chance and the circumstances do not remain the same, of course, one
would approach certain issues and course of action differently. For example, if
Boko
Haram
disappears now, our assistance will be more enduring as it used
to be before Boko Haram came. It will be about durable infrastructure,
intensive education and skills acquisition based policy as opposed to now that
it is consumptive due to the displacement of our people from their homes as a
result of insecurity.
 Do you think the North East where you hail
from is ready to tackle the crisis of girl child education which is a horrible
blight in that part of Nigeria?
Yes, I do, because
until the advent of Boko Haram,
awareness for the education of the girl-child in the North East had grown tremendously. But with a misguided ideology
hiding behind religion, education of the girl-child in the North East was adversely affected. But as I said, with effective
leadership, insecurity will be drastically reduced, families will return to their
homes and every child including the girl-child will go back to school.
Additionally, we shall ensure that donor funds for the training and security of
the girl-child in the North East will
be judiciously utilized.

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