By: Onifade Bello A.
Despite the pervasive neglect of girl-child education in northern Nigeria, there seems to be some ray of hope as some female folks have risen to be exceptionally different. One of them is Dr Fatima Umar Maigari who in her 30s has already become a member of a University Senate.
Too often, news reports depict women as oppressed victims who are barred from seeking education; especially in northern Nigeria which is predominantly inhabited by Muslims. Mariah Ahmed, another northern woman, asserts that the media has often ignored that women’s education has always been a fundamental aspect of the north which finds its roots with Islam.
In the past, women like Nana Asma’u, the daughter of Usman Dan Fodio, had shown exceptional influence in the pursuit of education. She left behind a rich record of her writings and life story. Her assertions about education present a compelling argument that women in the north have been scholars, leaders, students, and activists. Her story, and the like of Dr Fatima, subverts the modern-day representation of women as victims of oppression.
Dr Fatima, an academic and a scholar, holds a PhD in Biochemistry and is the acting Head of Department of the Biochemistry Department at Gombe State University, northeastern Nigeria. She is also a member the University’s Senate which is the highest decision-making body of the university.
The status of Dr Fatima brings to the fore the feat women can achieve when given an enabling environment. Importantly, if Nigeria realizes that education is the passport to the future and that tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today, women have to be more empowered with education. If education is a catalyst to nation building, governments at all level have to appreciate that the roles of women as nation builders can never be over-emphasized.
The story of Dr Fatima should serve as encouragement to all women; especially those in the north. It shows that there is no height that cannot be attained if they are educated. Even though some men still live with illusions that women belong to the ‘other room’, women have to put in efforts toward the realization of George Washington’s truism: “education is the key to unlock the golden door of freedom.”