In Nigeria today, there is no gainsaying that there are plethora of political leaders with their diverse modus operand. As a keen observer of the political scene over the years, it is not out of place to broadly categorize them into three different classes. First is the selfish leaders whose guiding principles are self aggrandizement. They come into public offices only for what they can get for their immediate family, cronies, clan and to some extent, their religious members. Their empowerment scheme is unfortunately geared towards satisfying these petty and divisive tendencies.
The second and yet sinister category of Nigeria leaders are the callous and wicked ones. As soon as they get the mandate of the masses, they become detached from the people. The masses are left to lick their wound and jettisoned to the harrowing sea of poverty, hunger, lack, unemployment and wanton insecurity. Of course, these callous and wicked leaders have empowerment and charity scheme too but to the political thugs. Impoverished youths whose future have been mortgaged by these leaders are the willing tool in their hands for fighting perceived political rivals. No one dare crosses their paths.
However, amidst the above social vices inducing set of leaders, are leaders that are meek, genuine and having a heart flowing with milk of human kindness. To these leaders, the theory of welfarism as propounded by the British economist John Hicks should be the basis of human existence. The economist had argued that the greatest happiness of the greatest number should be the foundation of morals and legislation.
The chairman of Kogi State Mineral Resources and Environmental Management Committee (MIREMCO), Hajia Hassiat Ozavize Suleiman seems to be one of the students of John Hicks and of course, readily fits into the third category of Nigerian leaders. In a bid to reach out to the less privileged in the society, the Ihima-born international business woman had birthed and registered a group called “Association of Woman of Substance”. For close to a decade now, Hajia Hassiat has not being weary of her philanthropic gesture. Of course, to her, charity is a way of life even if the endeavour has latent adverse effect on her personal business, her people’s welfare is utmost!
Recently, her Obeiba residence in Ihima was awash with hundreds of women that came for the usual distribution of food items during Ramadan season. Asked the motivation for her untiring effort to give despite the teething economic situation in the country, Hajia Hassiat said: “right from when I grew up and became a woman, I have always had this spirit of giving to the people. So, I only developed it when I came into politics. I have always have in mind that people could need and hungry.”
If philanthropy is inheritable, Hajia Hassiat Suleiman, no doubt, has got the trait from her father who had gone to be with his ancestors many years ago. In Ihima today, honesty, charity and community development efforts come to mind when the name “Mallam Suleiman Odeh” is mentioned. Popularly known as Salami Odeh, Hajia’s father would displease himself to ensure that his neighbours are faring well. To Odeh’s family, philanthropy is a hobby and way of life.
While reminiscing about her background and late father, Hajia Hassiat has this to say: I came from a very humble background. I knew when things used to be hard with my parents. So, I only but think back when I see people that are in need. I can say categorically that this spirit of giving was adopted from my late father. My father would always go out there to look for people who might be hungry to join him in eating whenever food is ready. He was not always okay with the idea of having his stomach filled while his neighbours are hungry.
The MIREMCO boss was quick to urge her women to sustain their prayers and support for the success of the present administration led by Governor Yahaya Bello. “I will continue to appeal to the people of Kogi State, members of the Association of Woman of Substance and Nigeria at large. Our collective prayers are needed for the government of the day. This hardship is not peculiar to Kogi State alone. This initial hardship would usher in a new lease of life. A lot of damage has been done by the past administrations and the government of President Muhammadu Buhari and Governor Yahaya Bello have only come to repair them. I urge everyone to keep faith with the government because there will soon be light at the end of the tunnel”, Hajia Hassiat admonished her people.
Amidst distribution of the food items, the visibly elated members of the group showered encomiums on Hajia Suleiman for ameliorating their plights. The Coordinator of the group, Mrs Akpata Aishat Jumai who appreciated Governor Yahaya Bello for finding their leader worthy of serving in his government prayed God would give him the wisdom to pilot the affairs of the state aright.
Hajia Hassiat Suleiman is not a leader that broods religious sentiments and segregation. That is why Mrs Esther David, a member of the group, described her as ‘God-sent leader’ to them. In December last year, and even as recently as April 2018, Hajia distributed food materials, cash gifts and fabrics to all members for the Christmas and Easter celebrations respectively and this was not done along religious line. “If hunger, depression and lack is not a respecter of faith, our leader does not want to know your religion before she helps you.” Mrs Esther argued.
On her part, Mrs Ayijimoh Siyaka wondered the manner of leader Hajia Hassiat has become. “In a society where some elected leaders are daily growing in propensity to ditch the masses whose mandate they enjoy, Hajia Hassiat who is not indebted to us in any way has always taken it upon herself that our welfare is taken care of. She will grow from strength to strength.” She prayed.
The story of Hajia Hassiat is that of resilience and dedication to the welfare of her fellow being. Her efforts, of course have not gone unnoticed as she has garnered awards from reputable organisations in recent times for selfless service to humanity. The merit award given to her recently by the Ihima chapter of Nasri Min Allah -el-Fat’hi (NASFAT) was yet another recognition for her course of ensuring a better living for the people. Our society would have been more conducive only if we have lots of Hajia Hassiat Suleiman as leaders.