Maryam Babangida @ 72 Post-Humously: The Pride Of A Nation, By Deyemi Saka

Maryam Babangida

Your Excellency,

Today, I celebrate your birthday posthumously.

For 8 years as the First Lady of our dear nation, a role you didn’t ask for but which you took up effortlessly and went about it selflessly, You were the Pride of many.

Through  your activities, you became the bedrock of various women empowerment programs implemented by your husband’s administration and successive ones.

As First Lady of Nigeria between 1985 and 1993, you turned the ceremonial post into a champion for women’s rural development. You founded the Better Life Programme for Rural Women in 1987 which launched many co-operatives, cottage industries, farms and gardens, shops and markets, women’s centres and social welfare programs.

The Maryam Babangida National Centre for Women’s Development was established in 1993 for research, training, and to mobilize women towards self-emancipation.

You championed women issues vigorously.

You reached out to the first ladies of other African countries to emphasize the effective role they can play in improving the lives of their people.

You established a glamorous persona and at the opening of the seven-day Better Life Fair in 1990, you were described as being like a Roman empress on a throne, regal and resplendent in a flowing outfit that defied description…

You were, and still remain a feminist and a true definition of feminism.

You were a supportive wife and a great mother.

You combined public and private life so well. So seamlessly…

Nigerians responded to you as a role model, and your appeal lasted long after your husband left office.

If you were to be alive today, we would be celebrating your birthday with an event or events promoting the welfare of Women and Widows. 

I can only imagine visits to IDP camps, and hospitals.

I can only also imagine how you would have inspired wives of those who served in your husband’s government to support such noble cause.

I imagine you as a First Lady at this critical time of of national life, I can bet on it how you would have mobilized wives of Governors and other public office holders to  support the wives and family of slain soldiers fighting insurgency and insecurity. Your office would have been passionate about the plight of Nigerians displaced and rendered homeless.

On this day, I say you were our pride.

Nigerians were proud of you…

You were a source of pride to us all.

On this day, I join my Principal; Gen Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida(Rtd) and his family in celebrating your 72nd birthday posthumously and also in praying for the repose of your soul.

May Allah in His infinite mercy grants the family to keep enduring this irreplaceable loss.

In loving memory of Late Maryam Babangida

(November 1, 1948- December 27, 2009).

Deyemi Saka

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