Untold Story of Gen. Sani Abacha’s 3 Powerful daughters + Zainab, Gumsu & Rakiya open up to Asabeafrika in Kano

Today is the
18th anniversary of the death of Nigeria’s former Head of State and
Commander-in-chief of the armed forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, General Sani Abacha. As his family, friends and well-wishers celebrates his
memory today in Kano (Northern
Nigeria) and elsewhere in the world, your Africa’s number 1 Celebrity Encounter
blog, Asabeafrika presents the
untold story of the late General’s
3surviving daughters in the persons of Zainab,
and Rakiya Abacha for your pleasure. Enjoy the
excerpts only on Asabeafrika

The GDA inside the late Abacha’s mansion in Kano

Gumsu Abacha to the GDA….’My Children are enough project for me to handle as a house wife’

Why I chose to be a house wife despite
my husband’s riches
Gumsu Abacha
Gumsu Benyero Fadil is the second daughter of the late former head of State and Commander
– in – Chief of the Armed Forces, General
Sani Abacha
. She studied interior design and creative art from the University of Jordan. She is married to
Cameroon born billionaire and
replica of Aliko Dangote in that
francophone country in the person of  Alhaji Fadil Bayero, who is also one of
the leading politicians and philanthropist  in Cameroon.
Gumsu who has four
loving kids for her billionaire husband spoke to Asabeafrika sometimes ago inside her father’s multi-billion naira Kano-Northern Nigeria mansion and this
is what she said to us about herself. Enjoy.
Q:     You are
one of General Sani Abacha’s daughters who have really taken the pain to learn
the chemistry of marriage well; Can you tell us more about the ups and down of
the marriage institution?
A:      Of course there are lots of challenges; we are all human
beings, we have our ups and downs. Marriage in most cases, especially in this
part of the world is about you, your husband, your-in-laws, and your family.
           Even among your siblings, it is a
big challenge and the best thing is just to be patient and to always think
before you act. I think that has been very useful to me and it has helped me in
the running of my home.

Gumsu Abacha to Asabeafrika…’When my husband becomes the President of Cameroon, i will invite you to cover the event’

Q:     You
noticed that a lot of marriages break this day in Africa and particularly
Nigeria. Before it used to be much in the West- Europe, America Et al. But
today spouses in Nigeria call it off after just few months of the union. Do you
think it is as a result of our Western exposure or simply lack of wisdom to
manage the challenges of that institution?
A:      Well, I won’t blame it on wisdom or western exposure; I think
it all goes down to the husband and the wife. It is either incompatibility or
other big challenges. Like I said marriage is one hell of a big challenge. Our
own parent went through it and it will really interest you to know the kind of
diplomacy they adopted in making a family to bring us up. My special advice to
women is to be very, very, very patient. A woman must be very respectful of her
husband. She has to respect him in order to have peace in the home. That has
been my strategy and I must confess it has really helped me. It has helped me a
Q.      How did
you start life in Cameroon, leaving Nigeria some years ago with your husband to
begin a new life in Cameroon?
A:      life is life. Life is okay, life is good. My life is my husband
and my children so I am happy, and my husband has been so good to me. We have
four lovely children and that is it.

Mrs. Gumsu Fadil Bayero (Nee Abacha)

Q:     Don’t
you think it is a rarity for you to be married to a rich Muslim like Alhaji
Fadil Bayero and yet you remain his only wife?
A:      Well, I think it all goes down to what I said earlier on
marriage and couples; it has to do with compatibility and dialogue. Once you
have dialogue and compatibility, the issue of having a second or third or
fourth wife won’t even arise. If you can handle your husband, if you can handle
your home, I think you should be able to take it through. Most couples that
have hitches in their marriage life, you find the man taking two, three, four
wives. At the end of the day, there must definitely be something wrong
somewhere either with the wife or with the husband himself. But unfortunately
the blame always falls on the woman, that is mostly unfair, you know. The men
also have their faults most of the time. Well, it is a man’s world. But
essentially, the woman must work hard enough to ensure compatibility reign in
their union.
Q:      Looking at the lifestyle of your father and mother, you see
one family that never gave room for infiltration. Is there any lesson you can
say you have learnt from your parent’s life style?
A:      Of course, my mummy is my role model; she brought us up very
well, very straight. She taught us to be good, to be respectful and she even
used to force us to go into the kitchen before we got married. She did that to
us at a very young age, which is very important.  I am trying to do that with my children right
now.  Yes, of course they had their ups
and downs in their own time too, but at least, they stick together.  So, I believe marriage is not just a contract,
you know.  After a while, you become your
brother’s keeper, your husband’s keeper and then your husband becomes your
keeper.  And you must also look at the
children all the time.  Your kids are
your future.  They are your life.  You want to bring them up, you want to give
them the best education; and that enough should concern us.  We must endeavor to be focused on building
our home and building our children for a greater future.
Q:      You will agree with me that most marriages of children of
the rich and famous, which you fall into, break before we blink our eyes.  In your own case will you say the kitchen
diplomacy your mum taught you made the difference?
Gumsu Abacha to Asabeafrika….’Marriage thrives on tolerance and understanding’
A:      A lot of men appreciate their wives’ cooking skills.  A lot of men like it when their wives go into
the kitchen and cook, and they are satisfied with it.  A lot of it again, has to do with ego.  Probably because the girl is from a more
successful home than her husband, she want to boss around.  But you can’t have two captains in a
ship.  You always must have one captain
and the captain is your husband.  You must
follow what he has to say or what he does. 
You have to be loyal to him; you don’t have a choice if you want to make
it work. I have done that and I will continue to do that.
Q:      Can you tell me about your lovely kids?
A:      The first-born is Sultana Maryam.  The second is Ibrahim, and the third is
The last one is called Fadila Zainab.
Q:      How do you spend a normal day in Doula (capital of Cameroon?)
A:      Well,
I am always awake very early in the morning, take care of the kids and ensure
they prepare for school.  I make sure
they are well dressed, brush their teeth, and say their prayers; have their
breakfast. Most times, I walk them to the car and I say good-bye.  And most time when they return from School I
hear when the car hoots at the gate and I come out to say ‘welcome’.
Dr. (Mrs.) Maryam Abacha, a Role Model to her daughters
Q:      That is a sign of a great mum.  You mean you are a full time housewife?
A:      Yes, I
am a hundred percent housewife.
Q:      And how does life look like being one because most Nigerian
women also believe life doesn’t look real good with being a full time house
A:      Well,
I am happy to be a housewife.  My kids
are enough challenge for me to handle. They are my special project.  They give me a good reason for being what I
am and to me it is a good way of life.  I
am happy.
Q:      What is your fashion sense like?
A:      Fashion
is every woman’s delight.  I like to wear
good things; I don’t care about name or designer, or the price tag or
whatever.  As long as it is nice and I
like it, I wear it.  It doesn’t have to
be picked in Paris, London or America.  It could even be in Sabon Gari (In Kano) or
anywhere.  Fashion is what suits you; it
has nothing to do with being extravagant.
Q:      Tell me the choicest gift your husband ever gave you?
A:      You
mean the one I cherished.
Q:      Sure
A:      Quite
a lot, wristwatches, handbags, bangles, and Diamond ring.  But you know the most important gift I
cherish? It is his love; because it is his love that brings out everything in
him and in us.  So it is his love
actually that is the most cherished gift.
Q:      As the daughter of former Head of State and Commander – in –
Chief of the Armed Forces and now the wife of a billionaire magnate, you must
have visited the best of tourist countries in your life time, which one is your
favorite holiday destination?
A:      Paris
is it.
Q:      What do you like in Paris?
A:      It is
like my second home now; I have learnt to speak French a little bit so I have to go by.  I like Paris a lot.
Q:      Do you have a role model?
A:      It is
my mum.  She is great, smart and a
passionate homemaker.
Q:      Do you have any message for women and mothers?
A:      I just
hope women will stand together, be strong, and fight it.  We are women of course and men have always
suppressed us all our lives.  But I think
with the new changes, the millennium development goals and everything, I think
and I hope that women will get to greater heights. We can see that happening
already in Nigeria and around the world and I know there is still much to come.
Q:      What is your favorite television channel?

A:      CNN

Q:      Do you have a favorite sport?
A:      Football,
Saint German
is my favorite football club.  It is a Paris
football team.
Q:      Tell us about your husband
A:      My
husband is a politician, a philanthropist, and he is a businessman as
well.  He tries to do his best at the
level he finds himself.  He gives to the
needy, the poor.  He contributes to the Chantal
Biya Foundation
(The Cameroon’s first lady Foundation).  He has contributed a lot to that.  He is doing well so far.
Q:      We learnt he is also interested in leading the country as next
President of Cameroon?
A:      I
don’t want to talk about it.  But
hopefully soon, when it happens I will invite you.  You will surely come to cover it.  You will come, you will come.
Gumsu & Sister-in-law, Mrs. Mohammed Abacha
That I am not married doesn’t make me less a womanZainab
is the first daughter of the late Head of state and
commander- in- Chief of the Armed forces, General
Sani Abacha
, a very beautiful and daring lady. She is a first degree holder
in law from Birmingham University, England. Zainab is equally a master degree holder in International Relations from University
of Abuja
, Gwagwalada. She is
presently doing her PhD. Programme in far away Dubai, United Arab Emirate.
She once suffered a bad marriage with her late father’s minister of industry, Basheer Dalhatu. The union produced one
issue – Sultan. However Zainab shared the story of her life
with Asabeafrika during the wedding
of her younger sister, Rakiya
sometimes ago in Kano.  Enjoy!

Zainab Abacha to Asabeafrika….’Not getting married does not make me less as a woman’

Q:      How
is Zainab abacha looking at Rakiya’s marriage to Sadiq?
A:      Well, it
is always hard seeing a member of a family leaving such a family, especially if
you have lived with the member all your life. But at the same time you know she
is leaving for a good reason and that is what we have inherited; the natural
progression of life, which especially for women is inevitable. Women are
temporary inhabitants of their father’s house. I wish her all the best in this
journey. May it be fruitful prosperous and successful
Q:      Can you tell us more about the wushe-wushe ceremony which you participated along with Rakiya early in the day?
A:      That is
part of the traditional rites; it’s all parts of the bridal initiation she
needs to do before being given out to her husband. The wushe –wushe as you have seen is done with the elderly women and
veterans in order to have all the blessings in her marriage. I think most
tribes in our country have their own way of wishing their brides success in
marriage. This wushe-wushe is our own
traditional initiation of the new bride into womanhood.
Q:      Why have you kept low profile?
A:      I have
been around. I have been in the country most of the time.
Q:      Is it true you are now doing a PhD.
Programme in a higher institution?
A:      Well, I
am studying. I am studying. I won’t say more than that.

Zainab Abacha

Q:      At your first degree you read law at the
University of Birmingham, England, followed with Masters in International
Relations from University of Abuja, what gave you the audacity to follow up
with a PhD?
A:      Well, no
knowledge is lost. Knowledge is enormous; in our life time one can not but try
to seek new ideas and knowledge at all times. I think it is one of the challenges
we must live with—seeking knowledge. It is a worthy cause, I fell I need to go
and advance my knowledge. Education is life. It is one very important moral
tool you need to sail across the challenges of life. For me it is a worthwhile
experience to go back to school. It is a worthy venture and I am enjoying it.
Q:      Do
you like politics?
A:      We humans
are political by nature just as we will say most African men are polygamous by
nature. I don’t see anything wrong in politics so far it is been fairly
practiced. The problem with our country is that we don’t see politics as a toll
of allocating values and wealth to the general public; instead we see politics
as a means to end our own problems. That is not the ultimate goal of politics.
And that has been the bane of social development in under developing countries.
In advanced countries, politics is seen as a tool for change. You saw the Obama
fever in America; you can see and feel the political permutations of Angel
in Germany. This is to show you that politics is not a cheat
maim or rig game. It is for change. I like politics, but I rather play at the
advisory level for now.
Q:      Sources have it that you are now in a new
romance, how true?
A:      That is
personal. Honestly I don’t discuss my personal life in public medium. With due
respect, I don’t find that interesting.
Q:      But marriage is an important factor in a
woman’s life, are you not considering taking a shot at it again?
A:      That is
personal. It is still a personal opinion weather I want to marry or not. It is
Q:      I hope you are familiar with Oprah Winfrey;
she is one of world’s richest black women. She is rich and happy, yet without a
marriage, not even a child. Is Zainab looking at such a life style?
A:      That is
relative, different strokes for different folks. People sees things
differently, everybody’s ideology is different. Something might work for you
but not work for others. Everybody’s experience is different. Everybody’s goals
and aspiration is different. For me, marriage is the right thing really. It is
the most honourable thing for a woman. And I feel a woman is complete when she
is married but that doesn’t mean she is less of a woman if she isn’t married.
But every woman’s pride and joy is to be married and to have a successful
marriage most especially.
Q:      As someone who has been in it a while ago,
what has marriage taught you?
A:      Maturity
and patience. Marriage has taught me maturity, patience and actually to be able
to accommodate all sorts. It gives you capacity; a large capacity to be able to
absolve many things that you will ordinarily never think would be possible.
The GDA inside one of the Posh rooms used for Rakiya’s Wushe-Wushe (Traditional Marriage rites)
Q:      Are you a cantankerous person. Many fell as
the first daughter of the late Head of State and Commander-in-Chief, General
Sani Abacha, you must be strong willed and highhanded. How true is this?
A:      In life,
people are bound to perceive you differently. Being afar in most cases makes
them see wrongs in you. But in honest submission, I think I am a simple person.
People that are close to me know I am very simple. I don’t think I am a hard
person; I am a human being; so it depends on the situation. Sometime of course
you could react very differently, it depends on the situation. We don’t have
the same emotion as human being. It depends. It depends.

Zainab Abacha with immediate elder brother, Abba

Q:      Do you find anything unique about the life
style of your Dad and Mum. They seemed to have taken to each other so much that
they didn’t break the bond for so long. Do you learn anything from their
A:      They were
lucky and it worked out for them. I think that was their luck. Everybody’s
destiny is different. Some people have their first marriages last a lifetime
and for others, their second marriages are more successful than the first.
Everybody is different; you know. Marriage doesn’t really have any script or
any blue print. So, you just never know. You just never know, like I said
earlier, different strokes for different folks, which is the basis of life.
Q:      How do you normally start your day?
A:      I wake up
in morning say my prayers have my breakfast, read the papers, then if I have
visitors I see them, I move out for the day. If I quickly return home I spend
as much time as I can with my Mum, then with my son too (Sultan Basheer)
Q:      Do you have a favorite meal?
A:      Yam. I
love yam and I also love rice with stew. I can be good with any well cooked
meal. Don’t forget I am a complete Nigerian. We lived in major cities of the
country with a career soldier Dad.
Q:      You must have traveled far and wide in
terms of holidaying, which country is your favorite tourist destination?
A:      Apart
from Nigeria?
Q:      Yes.
Q:      Every
country has its own beauty; maybe, England.
I love England for the quietness that
pervades her cities.

The GDA meets Zainab, Rakiya & Gumsu’s elder brother, Abba Abacha in Kano

Q:      What is your favorite game?
A:      Table
Q:      And what about television channel?
A:      My favorite
channel is Discovery Channel and CNN
Q:      How many minutes do you really spend in the
A:      Maybe
fifteen minutes (Laughter)
Q:      Tell us a bit of your beauty routine?
A:      I buy
anything I like; anything that catches my fancy I buy irrespective of where I
find it. I go for anything that appeals to my appetite.
Q:      What about cost?
A:      No, I
don’t look at cost. I go for what suit my taste and it wouldn’t matter how much
is the cost, even if it is a kobo. And I can pick my fashion prop anywhere I
find them; it doesn’t have to be in one bogus environment.
Rakiya being fed by her loving husband on her wedding night…
Marriage is not all about money Rakiya
is the last girl of the family. We met her on her
wedding night in Kano. Rakiya studied Economics at Bayero
University Kano (BUK) her two elder sisters, Zainab and Gumsu are her
role models in the area of marriage and family rearing.  They were both with Rakiya on her wedding night. 
But Rakiya who married Kano
business man Sadiq Idris Ali, son of
late Idrisiyya Motors boss has her
own opinion about marriage. She shared her story with Asabeafrika. Enjoy the story of the last Abacha girl.
The GDA greets Rakiya & Hubby on Wedding Night in Kano
How did all started, I mean how did you
meet your husband, Sadiq?
met in school; actually we both attended Bayero University, Kano.
And what was the attraction to his
His kindness was one thing that spurred my interest towards him
Not religion?
won’t say he is not religious, he is religious to the best of his ability but
it was his kind nature that endeared him to me, and I think that was the soul
of the matter.
You know you have always resurfaced in
news in the last four years or there about, that you will marry this year and
in most cases it nearly came true.  Why
did it take you so long to marry?
is God’s time that really matters.  It is
not by man’s making at all it will always be God’s own wish.
What is his full name?
Sadiq Idris Ali
Rakiya feeds her man on her wedding Night in Kano
What is he into?
family is into transportation.  His
father is late now.
(Cuts in) just like your dad
his father was a well known transporter in his lifetime.  His company was called Idrisiyya transportation
and he did well in his own time. He is now taking after his dad in that regard.
Was there a relationship between your
we have known each other since we were kids but we didn’t know our parent knew
each other.  Of course we also knew
ourselves from afar at that time until our path now crossed in BUK (Bayero
University, Kano) Even in school we were just casual friends, no romance,
nothing.  We just went our way.
So when did the love thing started?
say two years ago.
What did you study in Bayero University?
Rakiya Abacha
And he read what?
both red economics
Oh, that is interesting so at what time
did he toast you?
is secret; it is a private issue (laughter)
Readers may need to know?
have told you we started dating two years ago and it became a serious
relationship that drew the attention and blessing of our parents.
he made the proposal remains a private property of my memory (laughs)
Do you care for style?
kind of style, what do you mean?
I mean which style attracts your taste,
English, traditional or what?
don’t really have a favorite.  I like
traditional wears, I like English
wears, but it also depends on the occasion. 
The occasion determines my mood of dressing.  But I like any good dress that can
conveniently sit on my body.
Rakiya Abacha to Asabeafrika…’Mum made sure we started entering Kitchen at age 15′
Can you tell me what it takes to be the
last daughter of General Sani Abacha?
doesn’t take anything than the fact that one is the last daughter.  I am like any other normal child.  Ours was a family where maximum discipline
was the hallmark. I don’t think there was such pampering from my dad.  If you know him very well, he was a soldier,
he was a strict man, he was someone who expects excellence in all areas of
life, yes, I wouldn’t say I wasn’t pampered, as the last daughter, there is the
tendency to enjoy occasional pampering but not to the extent of non-conformity
with basic family norms.
Do you have something to learn from your
mum is my hero, we thank God for her. 
She is a very strong woman who could surprise one thousand men at a
go.  We just thank God for her.
Rakiya Abacha to Asabeafrika…’In marriage, momey is not everything’
What are the basic things she taught
taught me everything that mattered from childhood.  Everything that mothers are supposed to teach
their daughters, she taught me everything. 
For instance, she ensured all of us start going to the Kitchen at age 15
maximum. She didn’t indulge house helps or cooks to do those things for
us.  She made us do certain things
ourselves.  I think she is more than what
we thought she is.  She is a
mother-father all rolled into one. Oh, my inah
(The affectionate name they call their mother) thank you (laughs).
What about dad, what age were you when
he died?
wasn’t so young, I was in my early twenties I was actually twenty one when I
lost my dad.
How did you feel on the day he passed
was very devastated.  It was something
bad, but God is more than everything.
Was he close to you?
Dad was close to all his children.  He
was a father true and true. He loved and cared for what his children do; so, he
wasn’t only close to me; he was close to every one of us.
May be you were his pet?
was (laughter) so after him, things changed; we started seeing the other side of
people, and even life too.  My dad’s
demise was the only thing we needed to know what people could be at the
slightest change of time.  But that was a
new chapter in our lives and right now we are conversant with that chapter.
Can you tell me three things your dad
normally tells you once he scolds you?
actually uses to tell us a lot but one I can vividly remember is this “you
can’t eat your cake and have it” (laughs). 
He kept saying that (laughter). 
He was strict with this statement and the reality has begun to dawn on
us right now.
was just this man who could give you love and discipline in equal
proportion.  If you are smart and good,
my dad will give you his best care, but to be dull means you don’t want his
friendship.  He was a unique father.  We miss him.
If he were to be alive how do you think
your wedding would have been this night?
Brighter.  He would have dominated my personality and
his big friends would have been around. 
But this is how God wants it, I thank Him.
How do you start a normal day?
wake up early if I didn’t sleep late.  I
take my bath, have breakfast.  If I have
something to do I do it, if not I watch TV or hang out with my family, that is
I have seen women say their wedding day
is their happiest on earth, is it the same with Rakiya?
Gbenga, today is not my wedding gown day.  You are only smart enough to be talking to me
now.  Ask me that question tomorrow and
you get your answer. (Laughter)
So, will you tell me that tomorrow is
that day you have been waiting for?
tomorrow comes I will give you the right answer.
In determining fashion which one comes
first between jewelries, wrist watch and shoes!
I like jewelries.
So where do you pick your fashion props,
Nigeria, Dubai or France?
I don’t mind cost, anywhere I find anything nice. I will buy it even here in
Nigeria, even in the crowd market.
Your new man, can you tell me the best
gift he has ever given you?
and him, when we were courting?
mean me and my husband?  (Laughs) ok, I
will tell you, his love.
As the daughter of a former head of
state and commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, you would have been
privileged to travel far and wide, which country fascinates you most?
a while) I like Paris, I like Germany and I like Jordan.
So which is your favorite holiday
destination among the three?
prefer Germany.
What has been your most challenging
moment in life?
have had some challenging moments in life but I don’t think I want to talk
about them at this moment.  May be one
day, I could write about them in a book, people will get to find out about it.
What was your routine like when your dad
was head of state?
was fun of course but you know what? 
Sometimes it was really, really hard because you can’t go anywhere,
anyhow.  Sometime they will lock you in
the house; no outing, security this bla-bla-bla.  So it was like a life with varieties of
challenge.  But we thank God, we lived
through it.
So what is life going to be like after
marriage; will you like to be a business woman, a house wife or a politician?
will let you know as times goes on.  If I
can do all I will.
But do you think you can merge all?
God permits, He will decide for me.
What do you wish your husband?
should continue to be the good person that he is and I pray God guide him in
all his affairs, I will continue to pray for him.
Who is your role model?
Lastly, advice our young ladies who are
still searching for soul mate and eager to leave the spinsters club?
of all, they shouldn’t see money as everything. 
Money is not everything. Love should come first.  If they have somebody that they love and he
loves them back hundred percent, then that is the most important thing.  Money can come later.  So, first thing to do is to have someone they
love and they respect, and they will obey.
Tell me where you intend to spend your
honey moon?
know fasting is just around the corner. 
So we probably start it in Saudi Arabia for starters.

An artwork of General Sani Abacha & his wife as young couples in the 60s

Dr. (Mrs.) Maryam Abacha….taught all her girls how to  enter the kitchen and cook at age 15

Gumsu & Sister, Rakiya with a friend on Rakiya’s wedding night
Gumsu Abacha opens up to the GDA

Gumsu Abacha to Asabeafrika….’My Mum taught me basic things that helped me to succeed in my marriage’
Gumsu Abacha
Pretty Rakiya Abacha on her wedding Night
Rakiya Abacha & husband, Mr. Idris Ali
Rakiya Abacha to Asabeafrika…’After dad’s death, we learnt a new lesson about people and loyalty’

Rakiya Abacha to Asabeafrika…’My Mum is my number one hero’

Rakiya Abacha to Asabeafrika….’My Dad was indeed a strict man but he showed love to all his kids’
The Ex-First Lady, Hajia (Dr.) Maryam Abacha, a role model to her daughters


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