Background and Education
One who is without doubt, a woman of substance, a radical activist, a vocal woman and a force to be reckoned with, Naja’atu Bala Muhammad, also known as Hajia Naja deserves to be mentioned in the rank and file of Nigeria’s foremost women activists and politicians. Born in 1956, in the Central City of Kano to a political family, her father, Alhaji Ali Abdullahi, a core socialist was a contemporary of Mallam Aminu Kano in the Northern Elements Progressive Union (NEPU). Naja’atu has been a radical activist especially in the defense of democracy, women and human rights in general. Naja’atu attended primary school at St. Louis Private School, Kano, and went to the Women’s Teachers’ College, a Secondary School in Kano. She obtained a bachelor’s degree in History from the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.
Naja’atu Bala Muhammad: Unionism, Activism and Politics
Naja’tu Bala Muhammad exhibited traits of leadership from a very young age and was quite involved and engaged in Unionism, activism and politics right from her university days. Remarkably amongst some of these involvements was, her being one of the first women to have served as president of the National Students Union Nigeria in the prestigious Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria (ABU). In addition to that, Naja’atu was also the first female Vice – President of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS). As a matter of fact, she was the first female to serve as President of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), across Nigeria completely.
Naja’atu took women’s participation in politics, especially in Northern Nigeria, in the current democratic dispensation to a different level. One significant feat in her political career was her becoming the first woman to win a Senatorial Seat in Kano State (Kano Senatorial Seat in Central District). Besides this, she was regarded as one of the foremost social figures and political activists, to serve as the voice of the people of Kano when they demanded a change in the governance and administration of the state in 2003. Her involvement actually bore the required fruits when the Incumbent Governor that sought for re-election, lost the election that political year.
Naja’atu Bala Muhammad: Courage, Conviction and Confidence
Naja’atu Bala Muhammad is a Woman with deep convictions. Like so many optimistic Nigerians, she is a firm believer that the battle to rid Nigeria of corruption must be a battle that is kept, must be kept alive and fought to the latter. This, she has reiterated severally, both in private spaces and public functions.
Speaking on her political career, she said, “Before I thought of contesting elections, I had to think of all the school fees, feeding, my mother and father. So, there is that basic responsibility.” She also thinks that though women need to be more involved in politics, a lot of women that have the strength to go into it are not educated. Thirdly and unfortunately so, those that have seemingly acquired Western education do not want to ‘soil’ their nails in the mud of politics.”
Naja’atu is known to be of a fiery disposition; a voice that is never hesitant to say the truth to the best of her ability. Hers is a character that is characterized by commitment to whatever opportunity she is given or role she is asked to play. She lives as a true patriot and exhibits fearlessness like a common thing. For example, she was nominated and made a part of the committee saddled with the responsibility of dialoguing and fostering reconciliatory meetings between the members of the Boko Haram Sect and the entirety of the Nigerian Government/its people. Interesting to know is the fact that, while some members of the committee (mostly men) opted out, because of the apparent dangers therein, Naja’atu considered it an opportunity to contribute her quota to nation building and peace enhancement in Nigeria. When asked why she didn’t withdraw or opt out of the committee like others, she responded by stating that though she cannot explain why the others are leaving, and they probably have good reasons to, she on the other hand has vowed not to ever pull out of the committee, and by the ‘permission of Allah’, she will try her best in carrying out her duties.
A woman that was widowed at an early age and in a seemingly disadvantaged position, yet rose like a maverick to become the first female in cycles that were male dominated. Naja’atu Bala Muhammad gives women and men alike, reasons to aspire, believe and conquer. She serves as a reminder that age is not a factor, gender is not a barrier, and geographical location must not be a limitation to one’s dreams and hopes.
Featured image source: Daily Media Nigeria