By now, it’s no longer news that a Plateau-based housewife has lost her matrimonial status, over her decision to vote for President Muhammadu Buhari in the coming general elections. According to a BBC Hausa Service report monitored by and published in the Daily Trust of yesterday, Hafsat Suleiman’s sin was that of insisting to vote for the President, though her husband has decided not to do so again.
The husband, one Abdullahi Yadau of Kanam Local government in Plateau State, told the BBC that he had indeed divorced his wife because she has refused to join him in his support for Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, whom he plans to vote for, and insists on electing Muhammadu Buhari, whom he also voted for in 2015.
In his won words ‘….. the president disappointed me to the extent that I hate him now. But my wife loves the president beyond my imagination. I told her that she can only vote for Buhari at the expense of her marriage.’
This will not be the first time a Plateau woman will show undying loyalty and commitment to President Muhammadu Buhari. As Candidate Buhari in 2011, a Jos-based house wife had left the election que due to labour pains and gone home to deliver. But soon after delivery she had made her way back to the polling booth to vote for him. She later named her son Muhammadu Buhari and had no regrets when Buhari did not clinch the presidency despite her sacrifice.
As in most parts of Northern Nigeria, there seems to be a special bond between the President and the ordinary people of Plateau State. The report from Jos last week was that President Buhari couldn’t even deliver a speech at the rally because the crowd wouldn’t let him. Still the sacrifice made by these two women is nothing short of outstanding.
And this is why I feel the President must rise to the occasion by coming to the aid of Hafsat Suleiman, in her predicament. Except for the very rich ones, a divorcée back at her father’s house is generally seen as a burden to everyone. And the rich ones hardly ever go back home, usually they are wealthy enough to have their own houses and fend for themselves.
Therefore Hafsat’s first need right now is for empowerment. She has to be provided with a means to take care of herself, so she won’t be totally dependent on her parents or other relatives who might consider her an additional responsibility. Either through the Plateau state government or directly from the Federal government, the president should make the effort to see that Hafsat is gainfully employed. A job that would provide her with monthly earnings is what the lady needs right now.
If, on the other hand, Hafsat is a totally unskilled woman and cannot work in any government establishment, then the president should provide her with some venture capital with which to start a small or medium scale business in order to fend for herself. The gift of a million naira might not mean much to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, but it will mean the world to an unskilled, poor divorcee in a Plateau village. And he is, after all, the reason she is no longer a wife that’s being catered for.
Of course I won’t advocate any reconciliation between Hafsat and her husband Abdullahi. A man who can boast of having beaten up his wife over political differences, to the extent that she had to run away to her parent’s home, is not worth living with as a husband. In addition he seemed proud to tell the world that he followed her right down to her family home and divorce her there, in front of her parents. Of what good will it be to return her to a man like this?
And as is common among our men here, it’s very unlikely that he will send her any thing for her upkeep, even if she left with his children. Though the Holy Quran says ‘Live with them in kindness and part with them (at the time of divorce) in kindness’ very few Muslim men, over here, care about what becomes of their wives after they’ve sent them back home.
If Hafsat’s wish to vote for President Buhari is because she has seen the change he promised or is hoping to see it in his second term, one thing is certain, her life has changed now. So only a determined effort by the President, over whom she encountered her travails can make her new life bearable.
Hafsat’s parents must be commended for being so peace-loving that they did not allow her brothers to take the law into their hands after Abdullahi had beaten up their daughter and divorced her afterwards. For being such matured and peaceful people, President Buhari must recognise the need to quickly come to the aid of their very loyal daughter.