Adamawa state would ordinarily pass for a typical state in the North of the country where, conservative and patriarchal cultural lnorms and tendencies are expected to dominate the political and leadership space. But a few courageous women, call them the Amazonians, have been defining the game of power since 1999, to the point that the men must reckon with the womenfolk as serious contenders in turfs hitherto regarded as exclusive macho zones.
Adamawa women in all corners and social, cultural colourations appear resolved to move away from their “traditionally and divinely” assigned functions in the “kitchen and the other room.” It started with Senator Grace Bent beating all the men contenders, including the likes of Pascal Bafyau in the 2007 race to the Red Chamber from the Adamawa South senatorial district. Her sweet melody was however cut short when in 2011, a combination of conservative forces of misogynists and those simply driven by envy and opportunism aborted her dream of a second term in the Senate.
Then came Senator Binta Masi Garba who, after a four-term sojourn in the House of Representatives, defied all odds to clinch the gold medal in the race for the 2015 seat in the Senate from the Adamawa North District. However, like Grace Bent from Adamawa South before her, in spite of her spirited fight and an awesome political war chest, the forces of male chauvinism thwarted her striving for a second term in the Senate.
Replicating the feats of Senators Grace Bent and Binta Masi Garba, is Senator Aisha Ahmed Dahiru, representing Adamawa Central in the ninth Senate. The case of Aisha Dahiru, popularly known as Binani, is, however, different from the two before her. If, as some analysts have said, the phenomenon of Grace Bent was a fortuitous grab of an opportunity, and Binta Garba a coincidence, here is a woman, a political Amazon with a heart of steel who is propelled by a clear vision, a burning sense of mission and scientifically mapped strategy and requisite arsenal. Today, she is one of the seven female senators with the distinction of being the only female senator from the North.
Senator Aisha Ahmed Dahiru, Binani, had surprised friends, relatives and all who knew her when she surfaced on the partisan political arena in 2011 as an aspirant to the House of Representatives. In spite of all that she had going for her, not many people gave her a chance of scaling through the myriad of obstacles she had to surmount in the race. She was seen as too self effacing, genial and almost reticent and a woman of noble character, which are regarded as traits that are not suitable in the virulent, murky waters of partisan politics of our clime.
She was also up against entrenched political gladiators to who politics is not only a vocation but a veritable means to an end. They would fight to crush any intruder on their path and with a woman as their opponent, they would regard such an encounter as a walk over. Binani, to the amazement of many, won the ticket on the platform of the PDP as she went on to clinch the gold medal in the hotly contested 2011 election in the Yola North/South/Girei Federal Constituency. She was then, barely 40 years old.
The woman who describes herself as a, “Dream Chaser”, however, failed in 2015 to actualize her audacious dream of going to the Senate. She had obviously got her calculations wrong by going on the platform of the Social Democratic Party, SDP, that had not then, registered its presence in Adamawa state. A dream chaser who dreads failure with a passion, who believes in making dreams come true, it would seem that set back, instead of dampening her fighting spirit only meant a tactical retreat. She simply learnt her lessons, went back to the drawing board in preparation for another chance. That chance came in the buildup to the 2019 general election and very aptly, she chose the platform of the APC, the political party that was the rave of the day. Not without stiff opposition from within the APC in the contest for the party’s flag and eventually, candidates of the other political parties in the general election, Binani weathered all the storms to coast to the ultimate victory to the Senate , representing the Adamawa Central in the 9th Senate. That is, the constituency that is the political heartbeat of the state, cosmopolitan, culturally heterogeneous as it is historical. To underline significance of the feat, Adamawa Central had been previously represented at the Senate by towering personalities, the likes of Professor Jibril Aminu and Abdulaziz Nyako.
Beneath her deceptively meek and disarming mien apparently lurks a cool, calculating, steely, focused and single-minded personality who knows what she wants and goes for it. Any wonder that all those who might have mistaken her for an easy game or, a walk over have always ended up shocked and taken aback by the strength of a fighter that she is. Those that have interacted with her in business or politics, would testify that, on matters pertinent to her goals, she is a Master chess player with who there is no messing around.
Aisha Dahiru would also have gone thus far in her political odyssey obviously because, she has a lot of other qualities going for her. From a humble beginning in a sociocultural milieu where thorough education is a rarity for the girl child, in addition to a chain of certificates from local and foreign educational institutions, she holds a degree in Electrical Engineering obtained from the world class University of Southampton, England. In a nutshell, she is, by all standards, educated, equipped and capable as any one, man or woman can be.
Beside her awesome education that has the effect of commanding attention and respect in the circles of the elite, Binani is also endowed with inborn and acquired attributes that endear politicians to the electorate, especially in our political culture. She is famed for her large heart, liberal disposition, generosity and conviviality. She has a grassroot popularity resulting from her many acts of philanthropy manifested in the sinking of boreholes, scholarship for indigent students, paying of medical bills and economic empowerment programs, among others.
Largehearted, magnanimous and uniquely generous, her cosmopolitan outlook (result of varied experience and exposures), she is not known to be affected by primordial sentiments such as ethnic or religious identities of the community or personality of the beneficiaries of her philanthropy. This trait, demonstrated over the years long before her foray into partisan politics, worked for her success in the 2011 election to the Yola North /South, Girei Federal constituency. A sizeable number of those who worked her campaign machinery were not people of her Fulani, Muslim extraction.
Once in the Red Chambers, like one with a blueprint and a clear sighted vision towards achieving set objectives, Binani has not relented in drawing attention of her colleagues to pertinent issues and challenges in her constituency in particular, Adamawa state and the country in general. In most cases, her motions have resulted in Resolutions adopted by the Senate for implementation by the Executive arm of government.
The phenomenal political Amazon from Pumbina, another name for Adamawa, was appropriately, appointed the Senate committee Chairperson to oversight government agencies in charge of the critical Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs. That demands that she ensures Nigeria’s compliance to the 2015 UNO roadmap on the actualization of policies and programmes aimed at transforming our world by eliminating extreme poverty, ensuring good, quality education, unemployment, gender equality and health care delivery to majority of mankind. Who, in the 9th Senate would have been more suitable for the task.
In recognition of her altruistic and single-minded dedication to the advancement of her people and state, the Adamawa Emirate Council under the Chairmanship of Lamido Adamawa, His Royal Highness Muhammadu Barkindo Aliyu Musdafa, has added to the rich garlands of Aisha Dahiru Ahmed Binani with the unprecedented traditional title of Gimbiya Adamawa (the Princess of Adamawa).
Ayuba writes from Kaduna.