My Life as Late Waziri Ibrahim’s Daughter — Khadija Bukar Abba Ibrahim, Minister of State (Foreign Affairs) + Why I served under my husband as Governor

Khadija Bukar Abba Ibrahim to Asabeafrika…’Dad gave me the philosophy of Politics but my husband gave me the platform to espouse the philosophy’
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 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
whose political acumen earned Khadija a platform to promote her father’s political vision.

Hajiya Khadija has earned
it all, from a former Commissioner for Transport and Housing under her
husband’s administration as Governor of Yobe
state, 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
Senate 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This interview is the unpublished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 of state, Foreign Affairs by President Muhammad Buhari.
 It is a rich compendium of the rise to
prominence of the one time minister 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 Early Kaduna Years
Madam, could you relate your
growing experience as a child with Asabeafrika?
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, during the harmattan season, it gets rather cold and
during 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 other’s 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
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 us
In what way did your parents
influence you?
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 did have 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.

“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”.

Khadija Bukar Abba Ibrahim to Asabeafrika…’My dress sense is to keep my role and identity as a Role Model’

 Memories of Early Years
Kindly share some fond memories
of growing up years with us?
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. 

“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”.

The Silver Spoon & the Legend 
Your background suggests you were
born with a silver spoon, is that the picture?
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 dints 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 has 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” 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?
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.
My Childhood Ambition
Did you ever imagine you will
become a politician some day and if you never were, what other profession would
have suit your ambition?
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 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 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
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 and, here we are now. So my motivation
and journey into politics began as, and remains, a journey of service to the
Earlier on in the interview, you
told us how you were able to study abroad, how did that exposure influence you?
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 practice and experience immediately after
graduation, you have the advantage of being constantly reminded of how better
our own environment and affairs can be run.


Political Father & Political
Your life seems to have been
politically wired, you hail from a family of political juggernauts and today,
you are equally married to a gentle man politician, how did that came by?
 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.

“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”.

So, what was the experience like
working as a ‘staff’ under your husband?
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 and community service. And for that, many had always advocated
that I represent my people in government so as to attract development to their
communities. This is 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.
experience was essentially unique except 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 sign post 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, those
who 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?
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, office management and make the best out of both.
What would you consider as your
greatest achievement in politics?
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 resources and numerous federal projects to their benefit.
You are known to always dress in
a conservative way, what is your Fashion indulgence like?
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.  
President Muhammadu Buhari
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?
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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