7 January 2009

Nigeria: Uplifting the Less-Privileged, My Greatest Joy - Abiodun Yuguda

interview

On December 12, Hajia Hauwa Abiodun Isa Yuguda was a year older. In appreciation to God Almighty, friends and associates hosted a dinner party to celebrate God's faithfulness in her life. In this interview with Godwin Egbara, Hajia Hauwa resolved that this year, she will dedicate her life to the service of humanity. She also spoke on other issues. Excerpts:

You just added another year to your years, how do you feel?

I feel good and happy. I thank God that I am alive because it takes the mercy and grace of God to be alive and in good health. Thank God I am alive and in good health.

Looking back at your years, what unforgettable things can you tell us?

Unforgettable? I was given the title of Gimbia Liman Katagum which I never expected. I think it is one of the things I can not forget because I never imagine that people can appreciate me as much as they did to me. I think that is one of the things I can not forget easily.

What changes has it brought to your life being the wife of the governor?

I have been able to help and impact on people's life. That is something that makes me happy all the time, that I have been able to see somebody weeping and able to wipe away his tears and make him laugh again. I think that is the most important thing. I have the opportunity to meet people's need more than before.

If you are to live your life all over again will you still want to be Abiodun?

(Laughter), I will still want to be Abiodun because I will want to be myself, the way God created me. I think I will continue to thank Him. I feel contented with what I have always even before my husband became the Governor of Bauchi State. I think it is a great thing in life for one to be contented with. One thing about me is that things of life mean nothing to me, it is not important to me, and these are the reasons that I thank God for making me whom I am.

Recently during one of your interview with journalists, you gave tribute to your mother, what are the things you remember about your mother?

My mother was a loving woman. She makes me believe that doing good is all you have to do in life, she makes me pray all the time, believe that everything is in the hand of God, that there is nothing that can happen to you unless through the intervention of God. My mother made me become a good woman because she made me believe that no matter how bad somebody has offended me, I should not pay back with evil but always do good. She told me that it is better for me to be cheated than for me to cheat somebody else. So all this things are those things that molded me to what I am today.

What are the things that put you off?

Dishonesty, and when people do not trust me. I don't like it. I want people to trust me because I believe I am trustworthy. So when anybody shows me he does not trust me I feel sad. At times people take the advantage of my simple nature and take me for granted. If you are not really whom you are, it can affect one's emotion, but I have not changed because that is the way God created me. I always love to make people happy and I allow them to see me easily.

What have been the challenges so far?

The challenge mainly is finance. I have to sell my shares most of the time to embark on most of the projects. And I use most of the money to buy things for myself to do the work. I believe things will get better.

You were awarded the most outstanding governor's wife of the year award from Awoist Media Group. What is your advice for other governors' wives?

My advice for them is to use their position to serve humanity because God put them in that situation to assist the needy, so they should try all their best in assisting the less-privileged to have a bright future because this is the time God has given to them, to be able to appreciate God. The only way they can appreciate God is by impacting on the lives of the less privileged. They should know that things of this life are ephemeral. So when they are there, they should realise that it is God that has put them there and if they decide to acquire wealth and allow people to suffer, it means they don't have conscience. So I advise them to use the opportunity to assist others. There are some people that suffer a lot, they die as a result of little problem because they cannot earn a living. So we need to help them to be self-reliant in order to better their lives. So, we must assist and empower them.

Some times ago, when we visited Songoro Village, where mentally-challenged people are being treated, you shed tears. Could that be a sign of weakness?

Not a sign of weakness, but because I felt for the less-privileged. When I see them suffering, it affects me. That was why I wept. Most of the time when I see their situation, I try my best to uplift their living standard because I don't want to be seeing them in such situation anymore. This is why I looked for assistant for them and God assisted me. I was able to build a house for them so that they can lay their heads instead of sleeping outside.

How are they doing now?

They are doing well. At least they have accommodation where they sleep. I think it has helped them a lot in getting better easily unlike when they were always in the sun and rain.

Do your children see you as mummy or as governor's wife?

They see me as their mother and not as governor's wife because I'm free with them. I show them motherly love; they are the ones that celebrated my birthday for me. They just came back and told their daddy that they would like to celebrate my birthday, because they love me so much. They only know their father is a governor but our relationship is very cordial. It has never changed since I became governors wife, even to other people it has never changed, like some people tell me that I don't behave like governor's wife. So how will my children see me as governor's wife?

I want you to go into memorable lane, what was the terrible thing that happened to you that you cannot easily forget?

Something terrible? But I forget terrible things easily because I want to make myself happy all the time. My parents' death was very terrible to me and especially my sister's death. I had a sister, she died due to sickness, but I felt so bad when she died because she never had the opportunity to live and enjoy life due to the frequent sickness. Before her death, I was building a house for her. I wanted her to own her own house but she couldn't stay there before she died. When the house was about to be completed she died and I felt very bad. The death of my mother and father were equally painful too. I was to see my mother in the hospital, and before I could get to the hospital she had died.

Could you tell us your age?

Yes, I am proud to tell people my age, I am 46 years old.

At 46 years do you have any regret so far?

I don't think I have any regret because I am somebody that is determined. If I want to do something I do it, and when I do it I don't regret as I make sure I do the right thing and that what I am doing is what I am supposed to do, although at times I get annoyed if somebody offends me.

What should we expect from your pet project Challenge Your Disability Initiative (CYDI) in the coming years?

We have a lot of activities lined up. I intend to touch more lives than I am doing now and we have started our new site, we have a building there already, but we want to wait for the foundation laying ceremony before we continue. We intend to complete it very soon, pray that God will assist us, by the time we complete the new office, we will be able to admit more people in our centre, outside and within Bauchi. It will assist us to do a lot for the disabled more than we are doing now. We will be able to train them on skill acquisition programmes. At least, we intend extending our programme to better the lives of the people, the drug addicts, less-privileged and others. Later I intend to have home for the old people, especially all this old people you find in the streets.

You have received many awards including traditional title Gimbia Liman Katagum. Would you say you are fulfilled?

Yes, I think I am fulfilled, even without the award. So far as I am touching lives because any time I touch lives, I feel fulfilled. Even without the award because if they do not give me the award, I know God is giving me the award.

In a lighter mood, who was the first person to congratulate you on your birthday?

My husband, of course. You mean, he didn't forget?

He did not forget. He was the one that told me that the children said they wanted to organise a dinner for me. I did not put my phone on early but immediately I switched it on, I saw his message.

And what was the message?

Happy birthday and he told me he loves me.

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