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When we speak of politics in Northern Nigeria, it is hard to imagine that women actively participate in the legislative process. Naja’atu Bala Muhammad is one of the Arewa women who has broken the ‘glass ceiling’ regarding political participation in Nigeria.
Naja’atu Bala Muhammad was the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) Nominee for Kano Central Senatorial District in 2007. She is also one of the first women to serve as the president of the National Students Union, Nigeria, in Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria (ABU). She is also the first female Vice – President of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS).
Naja’atu Bala Muhammad was born in 1956 in the Kano into the family of Alhaji Ali Abdullahi, who happens to be a core socialist and one of Mallam Aminu Kano’s contemporaries in the Northern Elements Progressive Union (NEPU).
She attended St. Louis Private School, Kano, for her primary education and went to WTC Secondary School in Kano for her secondary education. She obtained a bachelor’s degree in history from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.
She is the widow of Dr Bala Muhammed, a political adviser to the Second Republic Governor of Kano State, Mallam Abubakar Rimi. Naja’atu Bala Mohammed, from a very young age, was involved in Unionism, activism, and politics from her university days.
Naja’atu Bala Mohammed took women’s participation in politics to a different level, and she is regarded as one of the foremost social figures and political activists, serving as the voice of the people of Kano.
She believes that corruption must be eradicated and the battle must be fought; this she has said both in private spaces and public functions.
Speaking on her political career, she said, “Before I thought of contesting elections, I had to think of all the school fees, feeding, my mother and father. So, there is that basic responsibility.”
She was nominated and made a part of the committee saddled with the responsibility of dialoguing and fostering reconciliatory meetings between the members of the Boko Haram sect and the Nigerian Government. While some members of the committee (mostly men) opted out because of the apparent dangers, Naja’atu Bala Mohammed considered it an opportunity to contribute her quota to nation-building and peace enhancement in Nigeria. When asked why she didn’t withdraw or opt-out of the committee like others, “ I vowed not to ever pull out of the committee, and by the ‘permission of Allah’, I will try my best in carrying out my duties”.
Naja’atu Bala Mohammed also held a couple of political appointments, and while she rejected some. President Buhari appointed her to chair the board of federal university Dutse at the beginning of his term, but she rejected the appointment, saying she was not consulted.
She claimed her appointment was made through a newspaper and was constrained to make the rejection via the same medium. Currently, she is a commissioner at the police service commission.
She serves as a reminder that glass ceilings preventing women from achieving their hopes and dreams are meant to be broken.