Lioness of Taraba: The Woman who roars where her contemporaries dare whisper

Aisha Alhassan Cover
Senator Aisha Jummai Al-Hassan, born Aisha Jummai Ibrahim, has won National Infinity Magazine’s Nigerian of the Year, 2015. For her, politics is not by accident, it has always flown in her family, through her father, Alhaji Abubakar Ibrahim OON, Sarkin Ayukan Muri, who, long before she was born, started playing active politics when he joined the NCNC, right from his days as a student in Barewa College Zaria. He later co-founded the Northern Progressives Congress was one of the conveners of NPC in Muri Division as well as its first Secretary of Muri Division.
Alhaji Abubakar contested election under NPC in 1959 for the House of Representatives in one of the 3 divisional constituencies of Muri. He was re-elected for second term after 4 years but the coup of 1966 terminated that experience.
He was Chairman of NPN, Gongola State in the Second Republic, also Chairman NRC Taraba State at one time and Chairman of the Convening Committee of PDP in Taraba State in 1998. He has since retired from active politics.
In the present political dispensation, her senior brother, Alhaji Abdulazeez Ibrahim was the senator who represented Taraba Central senatorial district from 1999 to 2007.

A woman of Many Firsts
Towing the line of her father, Aisha’s journey to a blossoming career in politics began at the Ahmadu Bello University’s School of Basic Studies, Samaru, Zaria where she contested for and won the election as the vice-president of the main campus Student’s Union Government.
She was barely 18 years old when she joined students politics in ABU in 1977 and for the first time, in the history of the school’s students’ union politics, Aisha, a non-undergraduate contested for and won the post of Vice President of the SUG in 1978.Senator-Aisha-Jummai-Al-Hassan-622x800a
Her contest and subsequent victory at the 1978 ABU students union government election was the first of her many firsts. Before then, the position of Vice President had always gone to women un-opposed until, for the first time, in 1978, when three students, Elizabeth (Lizzy) Wambebe then an undergraduate, studying Fine Arts who was lead vocalist of the then wave making ABU JAZZ Club, and for the first time too, another male undergraduate and Aisha Jumai Abubarkar, a relatively unknown prelim student, contested for the post.
Against all expectation, Aisha, the prelim student won and became the Vice President and the only female in the SUG exco of that year (1978 – 1979). She went ahead to become the acting President when the then students union government’s President Abdulhameed Imam and other members of the executive ran into problems with the school authority and were rusticated. For the first time an 18 year old female prelim student became the acting president of the Ahmadu Bello University Students Union. It was a never seen before scenario.
Winning that election, for Aisha was the energizer she needed to lay the foundation for a full-fledged political career that would earn her an enviable mention in her home state, Taraba. Aside being the first female governorship candidate from the state (2015), she was Taraba’s first female senator (2011) and also its first female attorney general and commissioner for justice from 1997-1999.
Her record of firsts was not limited to Taraba State, on her return from Fiji Island, where she had gone on secondment under the Technical Aid Corps Programme, between 1991-1992, she assumed duty as the only female Magistrate in the Federal Capital, Abuja, judiciary where she rose through the ranks and became FCT’s first female Chief Magistrate in 1996.
By 1997, Aisha Jumai Alhassan was transferred to Judicial Administration as the first female Deputy Chief Registrar and Director Litigation, High Court of the FCT, Abuja. Her appointment as Taraba State’s Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice was a break for her and after the 1999 handing over to a democratic government, she returned to her desk as Director of Litigation at the Abuja judiciary.
In November of 2002, Aisha was appointed the First female Secretary of the FCT Judicial Service Committee a position she held till December 2003 when she was appointed the first female Chief Registrar of the High Court of the FCT, Abuja.
Jumai AlhassanOn her retirement from civil service in 2009, Sen. Aisha Jummai Alhassan ventured into business. It was from there that the urge for her first love and passion; politics, erupted again. Her rise was meteoric. She joined the People’s Democratic Party, PDP to run for one of the three senatorial tickets in her home state Taraba and she, once again, against all expectations, defeated a sitting senator, Ambassador Manzo Anthony, at the PDP primaries in January 2011 to pick the PDP ticket for Taraba North Senatorial District.
It was alleged, then, that she was a protégé of former Governor Jolly Nyame, then ACN’s senatorial candidate for Taraba North. The rumour mill was that Nyame planted her in PDP knowing fully well that Aisha would defeat Manzo in the PDP primaries, thinking he would then defeat Aisha easily at the general elections.
However, after winning the primaries Aisha ran an energetic and glamorous election campaign, gained christians’ support despite being a muslim and her popularity and support base among the women folk was massive. Her past generosity to the people aided her plummeting popularity, armed with a vigorous and ‘never say die spirit, on April 9, 2011, Aisha, took the highly rated Jolly Nyame to the cleaners with 114,131 votes to Nyame’s 92,004. There and then, she made history as the first female senator from Taraba State.
She later deAisha Alhassan jumaicamped to the main opposition party, the All Progressives Congress and was its governorship candidate in the 2015 general elections.
As in her character, Aisha ran a campaign that was ‘second to none’ turning the table against the Peoples’ Democratic Party who had earlier, had a dominance show in Taraba during the presidential election two weeks earlier. The contest was fierce, leading to a re-run before a winner could emerge. At the end, it was a narrow margin that separated Aisha Jumai Alhassan and Darius Ishaku of the PDP who was eventually declared winner.
The matter is at the final stage of decision waiting for the verdict of the Supreme Court. Aisha won at the State Tribunal while Dairus won the Appeal. Whichever way it goes, Aisha Jumai Alhassan, now Minister of Women Affairs, has made her mark as a courageous female politician, daring and a darling of her people. She is the lioness who would roar where other female animals dare not whisper.
By her choice as National Infinity Magazine’s Nigeria of the Year, 2015, Senator Aisha Jumai Alhassan joins past winners such as Aliko Dangote (2010), Rt. Hon. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal (2011) The Masses (2012) Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, governor, Osun State (2013) and 2014 joint winners; Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed, Kwara State governor and Late Dr. Ameyo Stella Adadevoh, the medical doctor who prevented the spread of ebola virus in Nigeria at the risk of her life, in the hall of fame.

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