By Ahmed Garaba
Thursday, January 30 is going to be a day forever entrenched in the hearts and minds of many a woman in Nigeria’s history. It was a day that opened up to witness the brooding assembly of powerful delegates of the nation’s executive presidency and leadership. With First Ladies out of the closet and into the light for commiseration, comfort and companionship.
Maryam Babangida is to thank for this eagle gathering. Specifically, it is upon the summons of her daughter, Hajiya Aisha Babangida that the extant First Ladies sat together – perhaps for the first time ever – to share in one another’s experiences. With the outcome of this August meeting, it needs no pointing out that these fair folks are bound to congregate in camaraderie in a short while.
It came as an occasion to honour the late Mrs. Maryam Babangida, who is considered by many as the most iconic First Lady in the nation’s history – who the assembly distinguished as the Lady who lent voice and purpose to the “First Lady” title and office. Eight women who have held her position – before and ever since – headed the assembly: Professor Uche Azikiwe, Mrs. Victoria Aguiyi-Ironsi, Mrs. Victoria Gowon, Mrs. Ajoke Murtala Muhammed, Justice Fati Abubakar, Mrs. Turai Yar’Adua, Mrs. Patience Jonathan, and Dr. Aisha Buhari – who was accompanied by Mrs. Dolapo Osinbajo, wife of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
It was a time of reminiscing, and almost every one of them had their say. Mrs. Ajoke Muhammed, especially, regaled the congress of First Ladies – and other guests – with the true virtues of a wife, even one that is the spouse of a president. She emphasized that the gentle yet firm position of such a wife is vital for national governance.
Professor Uche Azikiwe, during her speech, praised the late Maryam Babangida, throwing light on how she tore to shreds the gender bias in the society during her time. Mrs. Patience Jonathan also paid tributes to the late Maryam, citing her as a mentor. Especially worthy of note is the session of Mrs. Victoria Aguiyi-Ironsi – eldest among the First Ladies – who greatly warmed the event with songs and jokes.