👤 By Adenike Lucas, DENISAURUS News
In Zaria, there is a female Hausa-Fulani woman who has taken the challenge to see more of her “sisters” practising law.
Aysha Ahmad, the only Hausa-Fulani woman practising law in Zaria, was called to the bar in Lagos 16-years-ago, and she believes till date, there should be more females within her locality wanting to practice the profession.
That there are not, and she remains the only Hausa-Fulani female from Zaria practising, has led her to challenge the education system in Nigeria.
Barrister Ahmad, a 39-year-old mother, who is currently studying her doctorate in law at the Bayero University in Kano, feels many girls and women in the North of Nigeria, are excluded and are not getting enough opportunities to learn in school.
The activist attended one of the best schools in Zaria, thankfully because her parents understand the values of education, and she also believes education is the bedrock to any development.
She argues that lack of education for the girl child will have a devastating effect on the society.
DENISAURUS News discovered a research which shows a huge disparity among the level of education enjoyed by girls in the South compared with the North.
It shows that many young girls in the North are at a disadvantage, compared to their contemporaries in the South.
The research, which links the level of education to the level of poverty, shows that in Jigawa State, more than 90 percent of the females are illiterate compared to 42 percent of the men.
And the barrier in education is revealing in the level of poverty in the state.
According to the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics, Jigawa is one of the top five poorest state in Nigeria.
In a report published in 2019, the NBS put Jigawa down as one of the states with the lowest literacy level and added that its poverty level was over 70 percent.
A report titled, Education for the Girl Child in Northern Nigeria, shows that more than 70 percent of women between 20-29 in the North West are not able to read and write, compared to 9.7 percent in the South East.
The same report revealed that more than 2/3 of 15-19-year-old in the North are not able to read a sentence compared to 10 percent in the South.
As shown in the report published in 2017, only 4 percent of females in the north complete secondary school. The figures are alarming.
So, what are the solution? The plan is to have a legislation that makes it compulsory for every girl child in the north to complete secondary school education, she said.
Barrister Ahmad, is not the first to raise the issue of girl child and education, but she insists that the solution will be enforced this time “through the law.”
She said: “We are not focusing ourselves on the problems, or the solution. We are focusing ourselves on the possibilities, and how we are going to enforce those solutions. That is why we are going through the legal route.
“We are going to create a law supporting girl child education. We know the problem and we know the solutions. How do we enforce the solution is what we are trying to do? We no longer want to hear stories.”
For Barrister Ahmad, there is no reason why a girl should not complete secondary school.
She said: “some argue that Islam says a girl should not go to school, but where in the Quran is this found?”
“If we bring it down to the issue of religion, Islam actually says ‘if you educate one woman, you are educating a whole nation.’
“We have so many Hadith about education. The prophet did not stop his daughters from learning, so there is no way you can say we should be denied certain right just because we are from the Hausa community or because we are Muslims.”
We have been trying to create awareness of the importance of education to parent through the radio. In fact, according to Islam, “if you educate a woman, you educate a whole nation. Barrister Ahmad, the only female practising law in her locality of Zaria, believes the girl child in northern Nigeria have been put at a disadvantage because of their lack of access to education.
She argues that if many girls in the north were educated, she would not be the only female practising law in her locality.
“In the whole of Zaria, in our locality where Ahmadu Bello University is located, I am the only full Hausa-Fulani lawyer that is practising law,” Barrister Ahmad said during an hour-long interview with DENISAURUS News.
Despite it being an impeccable achievement, Barrister Ahmad said, “I am the only Fulani-Hausa female practising and it is not something that I am proud of because I want to see many of my sisters practising the profession.”
She notes that the more Hausa-Fulani entering the profession, the better, “it is to our own advantage.”
She is going to make change through the law and she has a lawmaker from Zaria, Suleiman Ibrahim Dabo, working to make that happen.
The activist, who counts Mother Theresa as one of her role models, says the system has to change for more girls to attend schools and that is why she is working with lawmakers to pass a bill that will make it compulsory for all girls in the north to finish secondary school.
“Like let me tell you, there are other tribes with females practising law here, but I am the only Hausa-Fulani practising. I am not proud.”
Barrister Ahmad, believes having a female Deputy Governor of Kaduna – would inspire change in girl child education.
Hadiza Sabuwa Balarabe was elected in 2019 as deputy to Nasir El-Rufai. It is believed that many people would see her achievement and aspire to emulate them. To do so, they have to go to school.
The opportunity to go finish secondary school must be given to all girls in the north. It must be done through the law. Some problem girls face which prevents them from going to school, will be reduced immediately if the law is passed.
Through the law, Barrister Ahmad wants to put an end to girl child from hawking. She thinks it’s a problem that a child would be hawking when they should be in school.
She also said sending girls to other peoples home to work has house maids must end.
Speaking with DENISAURUS News, she confirmed that a public summit was held about the issue. The summit was attended by Hajiya Balarabe, some lawmakers and activists such as Barrister Ahmad.
The strategy she advocates seem to have been meet with enthusiasm from those present – including the lawmaker who has also spoken to DENISAURUS News.
She said: “Honourable Dabo asked us to write a report after, so that he can establish a law on this issue.”
She noted that she is happy that the lawmaker, is pushing for more girls in the North to be educated.
“Walahi, we feel so much delighted. We have promised him that we will not be tired till our desires are meet.”
She also wants “almajiri to be abolished.”
She recommends that more awareness is raised around the issue of the importance of education, so that parents will pay more important to their children learning.
“Girls don’t just belong in the girls and the kitchen,” she said. And “even the religion they were banking on, we have seen that the Prophet’s wife participated in politics and war.”
So, she said the mind set has to change and that that she will help to do over time.
“Most of the parents don’t understand the importance of education, that is why whenever we have a summit now, we ensure that more than 80 percent of the guests are parents.”
Leading a foundation called Nassiriya foundation, she offers young girls the opportunity to learn a skill and once a bill is passed, all girls in the north will have to complete secondary school.