OPIN­ION Obit­u­ary: Ha­jiya Bilk­isu, mni (1952-2015)

Daily Trust - - OPINION - By Ujudud Shar­iff

She was a com­pas­sion­ate news­pa­per editor, colum­nist and prin­ci­pled jour­nal­ist, a de­voted Non-Gov­ern­men­tal ac­tivist and an Is­lamic pro­moter to the last mo­ments of her life. She died in the ser­vice of the Almighty hav­ing gone on the Hajj at the in­vi­ta­tion on the Na­tional Hajj Com­mis­sion to en­lighten the Mus­lim women pil­grims.

We first met some time in 1979 a few months af­ter re­sum­ing at the Kano State Min­istry of In­for­ma­tion and Cul­ture af­ter com­plet­ing my Na­tional Ser­vice as an In­for­ma­tion Of­fi­cer. When I re­ported at the Min­istry, she had gone for her first ma­ter­nity leave. At the time, she was mar­ried to Al­haji Sanusi Ciroma Yusuf of the Kano State Min­istry of Jus­tice. Not long af­ter, he rose to be­come the At­tor­ney Gen­eral and Com­mis­sioner of Jus­tice of Kano state that we worked to­gether as the com­mis­sioner of In­for­ma­tion at the time. . He Kept on rid­ing the stairs of suc­cess un­til he be­came the Chief Judge of Kano State be­fore be­com­ing the Madaki of Kano Emi­rate and one of the four king mak­ers of Emir of Kano.

When she re­sumed from her ma­ter­nity leave, des­tiny ar­ranged for us to share the same of­fice un­til 1981 when I left for the United States to pur­sue a post grad­u­ate pro­gram. Au­to­mat­i­cally, she be­came the el­der sis­ter that I never had. With time, Ha­jiya, as we fondly and re­spect­fully ad­dressed and called her, pre­ceded to Madi­son, the United States for her post grad­u­ate pro­gram in Po­lit­i­cal Science. On her re­turn from the USA we all moved to the newly es­tab­lished Tri­umph News­pa­pers Pub­lish­ing Com­pany in Kano, Ha­jiya was my Editor at the Sun­day Tri­umph News­pa­pers while I be­came her Re­porter and even­tu­ally, her As­sis­tant Editor. Right from day one, she drilled us at the job and taught us how to op­er­ate ac­cord­ing to dead­lines. She was a tough of­fi­cer never a shamed to dress you down in the name of the job. She was also al­ways will­ing to show her ap­pre­ci­a­tion for a job well done. With time, she was to be­come part of my fam­ily know­ing my wives and chil­dren who were all born be­tween the when we were at Tri­umph and even when she moved to Kaduna and me to La­gos. Her life in Kaduna was a fur­ther de­vel­op­ment of her ca­reer as a jour­nal­ist. She be­came the Editor of the New Nige­rian News­pa­pers, the first woman to oc­cupy that seat. It was there she came face to face with Nige­ria’s pol­i­tics and the North­ern Nige­ria’s mis­for­tunes. At the end of the shame­less in­trigues, New Nige­rian was folded up and still mas­sa­cred by the north­ern gover­nors. Ha­jiya Bilk­isu teamed up with Mo­hammed Haruna, Mo­hammed Bo­moi, Kabiru Yusuf, Adamu Adamu and other col­leagues and founded a news mag­a­zine, a News Sen­tinel. They worked hard to sus­tain the mag­a­zine but some­how could not. With the col­lapse of the mag­a­zine, she be­came more en­gaged in Is­lamic ac­tivism, es­pe­cially the Fed­er­a­tion of Mus­lim Women of Nige­ria (FOMWON), and other non-gov­ern­men­tal pur­suits at­tend­ing sem­i­nars and con­fer­ences. She was writ­ing a weekly col­umn in the Daily Trust News­pa­per on all the con­fer­ences and meet­ings she par­tic­i­pated shar­ing knowl­edge with hu­man­ity. She was also an ac­tive mem­ber of Arewa Media Fo­rum, an or­gan­i­sa­tion meant to pro­mote jour­nal­ism in the North. As fate had it, I spoke with Ha­jiya last about two weeks to her death. She phoned on re­ceiv­ing my text mes­sage that my daugh­ter, Saa­datu, whom she liked very much since she was a baby, was start­ing her law de­gree with Baze Univer­sity in Abuja. She phoned im­me­di­ately in ad­mi­ra­tion and to con­grat­u­late me. We spoke at length about other is­sues not know­ing it was go­ing to be our last talk.

I saw her the last time a few months ago in Kano when she vis­ited me at home to in­quire about my health con­di­tion. She drove to my house and as usual asked about ev­ery­body. We talked at length about sit­u­a­tion of mother Nige­ria and prayed for the hapen­nings and non-hap­pen­ings. Weeven dis­cussed about a com­mit­tee formed for the re­vival of Tri­umph News­pa­pers. It was there­fore a big shock to hear about her sud­den death in far­away Saudi Ara­bia in such grue­some stam­pede in which thou­sands died and hun­dreds are still miss­ing and sev­eral more in­jured. My con­do­lences to the fam­i­lies of all those who lost loved ones in this un­for­tu­nate tragedy. I wept un­con­trol­lably for hours on learn­ing about her demise. I went on mem­ory lane to re­mem­ber decades of mu­tual and pro­fes­sional re­la­tion­ship. She joined our other col­leagues in the Kano State In­for­ma­tion Min­istry who died since like Mo­hammed Sule, Mustapha Makama, Mo­hammed Booth, Mustapha Dam­batta and Com­rade Ibrahim Suleiman. May their souls rest in per­fect peace.

We will con­clude this di­a­logue by pray­ing to Almighty God to bless her soul and make par­adise her fi­nal abode. We also pray for her chil­dren and the hus­band she left be­hind for God’s bless­ings and guid­ance. I also con­dole all her pro­fes­sional col­leagues and pray God to give us the for­ti­tude to bear her loss. It was a very painful death for all of us that had the for­tune of meet­ing and work­ing with her. I also pay my con­doles to Honourable Jus­tice Idris Ku­tugi and his wife Ha­jiya Laraba for los­ing a ded­i­cated niece. How do we keep her mem­ory alive? May her soul rest in per­fect peace, amen

Ujudud­shar­iff@ gmail.com <mailto:Ujudud­shar­iff@ gmail.com>

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