Spoken Word By Hannatu Musawa



Person Of The Year 2019

Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouq

On a daily basis, almost every news outlet in Nigeria shows the image of one particular confident and mysterious woman or news of her ministry. The images shows a poised woman conservatively and religiously dressed in the traditional Hausa/Fulani attire, her gaze steady, her face soft and her demeanour determined. It is Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouq, Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, the youngest minister in President Muhammadu Buhari’s government and first female minister to emerge from Zamfara State.

For those who have followed her trajectory, they know that Hajiya Sadiya is a political insider who toiled from the very bottom of the political hierarchy to rise as one of the most successful female politicians to come out of Northern Nigeria. She is a brilliant woman who has struggled to pave her own way to success, never relying on the aid of others and has eventually managed to capture the world’s imagination.

She has been able to capture that imagination by being the most talked about member of the Executive, one of the hardest working African women in government, the face of humanity, while still maintaining a cloak of mystery.

She has been an active participant in the movement that brought President Muhammadu Buhari to government for over 17 years, emerging as a principled manager and a resolute diplomat. For those who are still unaware of what she has contributed to this administration, perhaps a quick look at her resume would reveal that, at the time that President Muhammadu Buhari came into power in 2015, there was ‘not one’ female politician that was more qualified, had been loyal, deserved and earned a place in the government of President Muhammadu Buhari more than Hajiya Sadiya… Not one!

It’s easy to take the role of leadership in Nigeria for a novelty and for granted, until one puts themselves in the shoes of Hajiya Sadiya with the challenges and hurdles she has been confronted with since becoming minister. Every barrier this woman has been confronted with, she has walked through with poise, integrity and confidence that the Almighty is in control. When one looks at the strides she has made in the last several months since The Almighty lumbered her with her current responsibilities, her quest for stability, performance, peace and openness is all the more compelling.

Since taking the mantle of leadership as the humanitarian face of the government, never once has this one woman wavered. She has remained focused even in the face of cruel and orchestrated propaganda designed to soil the innocent relationship between a father and a daughter, a boss and a subordinate by using fake news, cropped pictures and all manners of mischief. Hajiya Sadiya remained professional and focused, choosing not to take the bait, choosing not to issue even one statement. Even when she was commoditized to an inhumane level, she remained strong. Not once did she blink. Not once did she let nonsense, wickedness and fake news affect her job. Not once did she falter and Allah, in His infinite mercy, saw her through.

More than anything, that incident just shows how much it is still a struggle for women who take up leadership positions, where they are vulnerable to vilification, accusation, intimidation and a certain manner of blackmail just for daring to reach for the reigns of accomplishment. Even in the 21st century, women can still be falsely labelled and hounded as they were in the Salem Witch Hunt. It seems that with this particular amazon, the fact that she is heading one of the broadest and most influential government platforms seems to make her fair game.

Ultimately, as Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajiya Sadiya is doing her job; her very influential job, in the most structured and excellent way she knows. And it seems likely that, as she succeeds in her role, this will open more opportunities for females to participate in highest tier of government. Hajiya Sadiya is paving more way for Women in Nigeria, especially in the Northern part of the country.

As the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajiya Sadiya is tasked to provide solutions to the plight of millions of Internally Displaced Persons, as well as coordinate humanitarian affairs and social development in the country. Her ministry is supervising five mega budget agencies, among which is the National Social Investment Program, which has been transferred right under her ministry directly by the President himself!

On a personal note, I have known Sadiya for a very long time. I have known her in a political, professional, academic and personal capacity.

Politically; Sadiya has thoroughly earned her stripes by being a loyal and an active member of President Buhari’s political movement for over 17 years, for being the first female to contest for the House of Representatives in Zamfara State, for being an effective party treasurer in two major opposition parties (In APC, she was the highest ranking Northern figure of the party), for participating in significant party committees in the run up to the 2015 and 2019 elections and for so many other vital political roles that she played.

Academically; Sadiya is one of the most intelligent people I know with three solid academic degrees from Ahmadu Bello University, which she earned with high marks. And she is a person who continually seeks for knowledge and reads to further educate herself.

Professionally; Sadiya has been a successful businesswoman, spent some time in the civil service, was a star employee in a private business and served well as the Federal Commissioner, National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons. She has always been diverse and never been afraid of hard work.

Personally; I have always known Sadiya to be God-fearing, kind, serious, honest, professional, generous, principled, good, courageous, determined, wise and extremely passionate.

As a mother, she is second to none, even to the children of her extended family and friends. She has also always been an exceptionally good friend. And I can unequivocally say that she is a woman that has always protected her virtue as a woman fiercely, ferociously and religiously.

For me, the label of Person of the Year is not only about people with institutional power, it is also about who affected the news and public lives. Hajiya Sadiya has managed to do just that. Apart from being given the humungous task of setting up a fresh new ministry and having to deal with the most sensitive function of any of the ministries, since her work deals directly with desperate and needy Nigerian masses, she faced significant national challenges since becoming Minister; challenges with consequences far beyond her calling.

Choosing my person of the Year, 2019 was easy this year, not because I know the recipient, but because she has earned and deserves it.

…FOR BEING THE FACE OF HUMANITY, FOR STANDING STRONG IN THE FACE OF ADVERSITY, FOR EMERGING AS A ROLE MODEL FOR WOMEN, FOR BEING THE SUCCESS STORY EVERYONE WANTS TO HEAR, ’HAJIYA SADIYA UMAR FAROUQ’ IS MY PERSON OF THE YEAR, 2019

Nigerian Of The Year

Busola Dakolo

Earlier on in the year, Busola Dakolo gave an interview in which she spoke about being defiled as a teenager by her pastor, the celebrity flamboyant Pastor Biodun Fatoyinbo, founder and head pastor of COZA. Her testimony opened the conversation about Nigeria’s rape culture in a way that previous allegations had not before.

Since making her allegations, Fatoyinbo has been accused of rape by other women.

In September, Busola drew up a civil suit against Fatoyinbo for intentionally inflicting her with emotional distress. Recently, a high court in Nigeria’s capital city, Abuja, dismissed the case.

Nigeria operates an extremely patriarchal society, which has made the abuse of women normal in a way that ostracizes a woman who speaks out and blames her, while her perpetrator is exonerated.

UNICEF maintains that 1 in 4 Nigerian girls are victims of sexual violence before they turn 18, and according to a national survey carried out in 2014, only 38% of those who experienced sexual violence as children told someone about it, and only about 5% sought help.

These numbers point to a harrowing reality that many survivors don’t talk about their experiences in fear of being chastised for it.

However, in the wake of the global #MeToo movement, things may be changing. More women are finding their voices and the courage to speak out. Busola Dakolo is one of such women. She has broken through that mold.

I deal with abused women in my line of work and I have developed the instinct to decipher the signs of abuse. And, wherever she is, I want Busola to know that “…I thank you and I BELIEVE YOU!”

…FOR BEING BRAVE, RIGHTEOUS, COURAGEOUS, STUNNING, INSPIRING, RESILIANT, FEARLESS; FOR HAVING A STRONG HEART AND A BEAUTIFUL SOUL; FOR HAVING THE COURAGE TO SPEAK OUT, ‘BUSOLA DAKOLO’ IS MY NIGERIAN OF 2019.’

Non-Nigerian Of The Year

Greta Thunberg

In the 16 months since she first spoke out about climate change and warned the world of its dangers, Greta Thunberg has brought the very reality of the hazard we are causing to our consciousness. She began a global movement by skipping school: starting in August 2018, she spent her days camped out in front of the Swedish Parliament, holding a sign painted in black letters on a white background that read “School Strike for Climate.” Since then she has addressed heads of states at the United Nations, met with the Pope and sparred with the President of the United States. She has also gone on to inspire 4 million people to join the global climate strike on September 20, 2019, in what was the largest climate demonstration in human history.

Out there, the entire natural world seems to amplify her small voice. A voice that has now not only become loud but more significant than a thousand armies and a million reigns. Her image has been celebrated in murals, her name has been attached to everything and she has been compared to Joan of Arc. After noticing a hundredfold increase in its usage, lexicographers at Collins Dictionary named Thunberg’s pioneering idea, climate strike, the word of the year. This young lady truly has captured the imagination for an extremely good cause, which will outlive every single one of us and reverberate throughout eternity.

…FOR HER SELFLESS ABILITY TO CHANGE AND INSPIRE THE WORLD, MAKE PEOPLE BELIEVE AND SHOW US SACRIFICE AND GREATNESS AT ITS BEST, ‘GRETA THUNBERG’IS MY NON-NIGERIAN OF 2019.’

Champion Of The Year

Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson is a Champion, not because he necessarily did a good thing but because he has been revolutionary. Whether one likes him or not, in the six months since Boris Johnson took over from Theresa May to become the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, his impact has been ground-breaking.

In perhaps the most important election in the United Kingdom since the end of World War II, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has won a landslide victory, claiming a mandate to deliver on his pledge to take the country out of the European Union. The new British Prime Minister delivered the biggest electoral win to the Conservatives since Margaret Thatcher in 1987, resulting in a huge majority that paves the way for them to push through Brexit.

Despite his eccentricity, less than four years ago, Johnson was still London’s mayor and undecided about whether to back Leave or Remain in the Brexit referendum. When he joined the Leave campaign, Johnson helped precipitate a crisis in the UK, benefited from it, and then called the recently concluded election to end it.

The Britain that has emerged today is different from the one that came before, its old political map erased, its economic model upended, its prospects uncertain—even its very unity in doubt. And this is all down to Boris Johnson.

…FOR HIS GARGANTUAN POLITICAL IMPACT, FOR BEING ABLE TO INHERIT A POLITICAL DISASTER AND TURNING IT INTO A POLITICAL TRIUMPH IN JUST SIX MONTHS, ‘BORIS JOHNSON’ INMY CHAMPIONS OF 2019.’

Story Of The Year

The Rise And Fall Of Jeffrey Epstein

The story of Jeffrey Epstein, the deceased convicted child sex trafficker, is one for the story books. In January 1953 when he was born in a rented apartment into a middle class family in New York, no one could have predicted the extraordinary heights of wealth and success to which the Billionaire would climb. But more still, no one could have predicted how low into the depths of disgrace the late tycoon would eventually fall. That fall saw its climax and eventual eruption in 2019.

Since 2008, Jeffrey Epstein had been convicted of procuring an underage girl for prostitution and served prison time. He was arrested in July of 2019 on charges of sex trafficking, though was found dead from suspected suicide in his cell on August 10th2019.

The story of Jeffrey Epstein has been the most explosively sensational and scandalous tale of 2019, not just for its salaciousness but because it potentially implicates well-known figures such as Bill Clinton, Donald Trump, Prince Andrew, Saudi Princes, Hollywood Stars among so many other World figures, which he called his friends and whom visited his Private Islands and Private Jets where young underage girls were allegedly abused.

The #MeToo movement has unearthed numerous, shocking allegations about the abuse of women by powerful men, but no case to date has surfaced such a damning set of allegations of minor girls using cash payments to recruit a “vast network of underage victims,” some of whom were as young as 14 years old.

…FOR THE SHEER SALACIOUS DISGRACE OF THIS SCANDAL WITH THE POTENTIAL OF BRINGING PRESIDENTS AND PRINCES DOWN; FOR THE FICTION LIKE INGREDIENT OF POWER, SEX, SUICIDE, DEATH OF THIS AWFUL EPIC ‘THE STORY AND RISE AND FALL OF JEFFREY EPSTEIN’ IS MY STORY OF 2019.’

Article Of The Year

“An Appeal To My Dear Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu” By Chief Dele Momodu

On October 27th, 2019, an article was written by Chief Dele Momodu. It was effectively a letter to APC chieftain, Bola Tinubu. Momodu in the article gave reasons Tinubu, a former governor of Lagos state and national leader of APC, is eminently qualified to run for president in 2023.

While I could understand the sentiment exhibited in the article, it didn’t take away from the surgical way Chief Momodu articulated his case for the 2023 Presidential Candidacy of Bola Ahmed Tinubu. Reading his article was like watching an incredibly astute Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) lay down his slam-dunk closing arguments in an obstinate legal matter. By the end of the article, Chief Momodu had won me over, despite my earlier strong reservations. And that can only be done by a very gifted and proficient writer. After this brilliant piece, I, too, “have no illusions that Tinubu will definitely perform as President of Nigeria, if he ever contests and wins. He has a knack for identifying brilliant minds and fertile brains, and the ability to nurture them to greatness.” No longer do I think that age should be a deliberate barrier; track record of achievements should be the priority.

…FOR HIS BRILLIANT ABILITY TO CONVINCE BY PUTTING PEN TO PAPER, AND THE COHERENT WAY HE UNFOLDED HIS ARGUMENTS IN JUST THIS ONE PIECE, ‘AN APPEAL TO MY DEAR ASIWAJU BOLA AHMED TINUBU’ BY CHIEF DELE MOMODU IS MY ARTICLE OF THE YEAR 2019.

Douchbag Of The Year

Tweedledum And Tweedledee, Aka Senator Elisha Abboh And Prince Andrew

On May 11th 2019 at around 6pm in Abuja, the Capital of Nigeria, Senator Elisha Abboh allegedly went to look for some disgusting, debauched excitement in an immoral outlet, carnal in nature. During the course of the evening, a Closed Circuit TV, captured this ‘Douchebag’ proceed to ferociously and physically abuse the sales girl in the shop. Not thinking that the woman he was plummeting was someone else’s child, sibling, wife, mother or friend, the Senator continued to strike at her. Thank God that the whole event was captured on CCTV. The episode was ugly, disturbing and showed the ugly side of how a Moron in Political office could get thoroughly inebriated and drunk with power and… Lord only knows what other substances! Senator Abbo was a National Embarrassment in that incident and Imma still need Bruh to take several seats for that horrible episode!

On 16th November 2019 in London, the Capital of The United Kingdom, Prince Andrew, the eighth in line of succession to the British Throne, was interviewed by the BBC in an attempt to tackle questions over his friendship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. In the interview he tried to distance himself from participating in exploiting a young woman trafficked by Epstein.

Since the interview, there has been dire fallout for The Prince to which he has suspended his public duties for the “foreseeable future” following intense negative reaction. And the interview is subsequently described as “a plane crashing into an oil tanker, causing a tsunami, triggering a nuclear explosion level bad.”

If Prince Andrew went into the interview expecting to clear his name and end any Epstein-based suspicion around him then he was very much mistaken. The answers he gave which were intended to counteract allegations only raise more questions and suspicions. The interview was a huge mistake.

…FOR HIS WICKED, BRUTISH AND INEXCUSABLE VIOLENCE AGAINST A INDEFENSELESS WOMAN WHILE REPRESENTING A CONSTITUENCY IN THE HALLOWED CHAMBER AND FOR HIS ILL-JUDGED ATTEMPT TO CONTROL THE HEADLINES BY GIVING A MISGUIDED INTERVIEW; FOR INTERACTING WITH A CONVICTED SEX OFFENDER AND ALLEGEDLY TAKING PART EXPLOITING YOUNG TRAFFICKED GIRLS, RESPECTIVELY, ‘SENATOR ELISHA ABBOH AND PRINCE ANDREW’ ARE MY SHAMELESS DOUCHEBAGS OF 2019’

Book Of The Year

The Silent Patient By Alex Michaelides, A Twisty Psychological Thriller

The Silent Patient is a psychological thriller. It follows the story of a Psychotherapist named Theo Faber who is fascinated with a woman named Alicia Berenson. Alicia murdered her husband six years prior by shooting him five times in the face. He was found bound to a chair with gunshot wounds to his face, and she was convicted soon thereafter. After the murder, she never spoke again.

Theo Faber hopes to treat Alicia and uncover the mystery behind her motives for killing her husband. As they sit in silence, the mystery unravels as to what really happened on the fateful night that Alicia shot her husband.

The ending of the book revealed it to be a thrillers-slash-mystery that had twisty plots. The book was released in February 2019 and said to be in the works to be developed into a movie.

The premise of this book is fantastic. I was engaged right away. Although I kind of caught on to the final twist and reveal, the ending was still surprising and the author nailed it. It was a quick and fun read and I recommend it to anyone, even those who are not into thrillers. It reads pretty much the way a thriller should read, with plenty of twists and intriguing bits of information doled out at a steady clip.

…FOR ITS RIVETING READING AND PLENTY OF TWISTS AND INTRIGUING BITS OF INFORMATION DOLED OUT AT A STEADY CLIP, ‘THE SILENT PATIENT BY ALEX MICHAELIDES, IS MY BOOK OF 2019.’

Columnist Of The Year

JIBRIN IBRAHIM @Jibrinibrahim17

Mr Jibrin Ibrahim’s articles on several online news outlets are informative, enjoyable and give a deep understanding into any of the topics he chooses to write on. I find his incisive scrutiny and factual interpretation of news, thought provoking and, as such, often find myself referring to his column to get his perception on several subject matters. He is presently one of Nigeria’s most brilliant writers and his courage and objectivity, to me, is essential and extremely refreshing.

…FOR HIS COLUMN’S OBJECTIVITY, INDEPENDENT PERCEPTION, PHILOSOPHICAL UNDERTONE AND HIS SIMPLY AMAZING LITERARY PROWESS, ‘JIBRIN IBRAHIM’ IS MY COLUMNIST OF 2019.’

My Write Up Choice Of The Year

‘I Saw The Miracle Of Allah’

Every week, I write a couple of articles on different topics. At the end of the year, I go over my articles and reflect on the message and effect of each. Looking back at some of my articles took me on a roller coaster ride of emotions. The article that seems to have the most profound effect on me was one I wrote back in September about a fire where everything burnt… except five Qurans.

“On Saturday September 14, 2019, at approximately 5:52pm, I witnessed the miracle of Allah. There was a fire. It was ferocious and intense. It was unforgiving and determined. It ate up everything in its wake, as its scorching embers made their way through material and matter, melting even metal and desecrating all. Almost everything was lost.

But despite the destruction, under the burnt debris, there lay five Holly Quran – intact – as if they had been gently placed under the rubble and protected. The covers and sides of the pages were charred but the pages where the words of Allah were remained whole and undamaged. The fire completely destroyed everything it came across apart from the five Qurans. And it wasn’t just one Quran that survived the blazing inferno, it was all of the Qurans in the room. As I looked at the scorched remains against the five pure and intact Qurans, I knew that I had just witnessed the miracle of Allah!

The extraordinary miracle of the five Qurans that I experienced reinforced my faith and my love for my Deen, it gave me a feeling of gratitude, awe and wonder. It made me want to strengthen my faith and Iman. It made me count my blessings and forced me to reflect on life and death, on those small blessings and vivid signs that Allah shows me every day. It made me grateful for everything. It made me remember why I love being a Muslim.

I watched the five Qurans, intact from that blazing inferno and I realised that the greatest thing that makes me love being a Muslim is The Almighty God. I love being a Muslim simply because of God. I am a Muslim because I love God.

…FOR MY LOVE FOR MY DEEN AND MY LOVE FOR THE ALMIGHTY, , ‘‘I SAW THE MIRACLE OF ALLAH’ IS MY WRITE-UP CHOICE OF 2019.’

Movie Of The Year

Marvel’s Avengers: Endgame

The previous Avengers movie, Infinity War, stunned believers and unbelievers alike with its sheer stupendous scale, and a devastating ending.

As fans of the Marvel franchise eagerly awaited the last instalment of this particular MCU story cycle, we were promised wild new surprises with this colossal climactic movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The movie tied up all the loose ends and provided answers to all lingering questions in the previous 21 instalments that came before it in the story cycle.

Avengers: Endgame came out in April 2019 and the sheer adrenaline filled excitement of epic did not fail. The movie was entirely outstanding and totally preposterous. The sheer enjoyment and fun that it delivers and the pure exotic spectacle, are irresistible, as is its insouciant way of combining the serious and the comic. As an artificial creation, the Avengers have been triumphant, and as entertainment, they have been unconquerable. The movie was awesome and I could watch it over and over again.

 …FOR ‘JUST’ BEING A FIGMENT OF THE CREATIVELY, GENIUS IMAGINATION OF STAN LEE AND DELIVERING ADRENALINE FILLED FABULOUSNESS IN EVERY SENSE OF THE WORD, ‘MARVEL’S AVENGERS: ENDGAME’ IS MY MOVIE OF 2019.’

T.V Show Of The Year

Game Of Thrones

Whether one liked or hated the ending of The Game Of Thrones, one can not deny the revolution and strides in television storytelling that this epic show made. For the most part, majority of the critics of this epic show gave the finale a negative review. The disappointment and outright resentment about the end of Game of Thronesfeels bigger and sounds louder than anything we’ve heard about a TV finale in years, however that is because there hasn’t been a show this big and loud in years. The truth is that for shows that are so ambitious and serialized and epic in scope, it’s difficult to create a finale that’s going to please everyone. The only show that I can honestly say that got its finale right is AMC’s Breaking Bad, which was able to balance all expectations.

A TV show’s job is to move you and transport you and make you believe in the world and characters it has built.Game of Thronesdid that and it’s ending shouldn’t negate what it accomplished and how enthralling it was for so many years.

I think that it is inadequate to judge an entire TV show on its last episodes, especially if it raised the bar for the scope and scale of television storytelling. And I certainly think that Game Of Thrones did that.

…FOR IT’S SHEER SCALE OF STORYTELLING AND ITS ABILITY TO MOVE AND TRANSPORT THE VIEWER INTO THE WORLD OF THE SEVEN KINGDOMS, ‘THE GAME OF THRONES’ IS MY TV SHOW OF 2019.’

Song Of The Year

Brown Skin Girl By Beyonce, Wizkid

When Beyoncé dropped her new Lion King-inspired album The Gifton July 19 2019, one track especially received a lot of buzz: “Brown Skin Girl.” The song, which features Nigeria’s very own, Wizkid, is a love letter to black girls and black women all over the World, stating that their natural dark skin, rich in melanin, is beautiful and worthy of being exalted.

The Afrocentric bop’s outpouring of acceptance and validation is something that makes women of colour feel beautiful and makes them feel seen. And it’s affirming anthem has the power of making its target audience feel detached from all the insecurities that racism and misogynoir tend to bring. It helps them step away from the deplorable and unnatural culture of skin bleaching.

This song helps to reconstruct the perceptions of blackness by showing that it deserves to be valued and respected, because it’s a part of who we are as human beings. Although I only believe in one race- the human race- this song gives me pride of the hue of melanin in my black race.

…FOR THE SONG’S ABILITY TO PULL AT EMOTION AND EMPOWER ALL WOMEN OF COLOR. FOR ITS POWERFUL VOCALS, ITS SMOOTH FLOW, ITS FUSION OF AFROBEAT, REGAE AND AFROCENTIC GRIND, ITS POWERFUL LYRICS AND EVERYTHING IT SO GENEROUSLY OFFERS, ‘BROWN SKIN GIR’LIS MY SONG OF 2019.’

I invite you to follow me on twitter: @hanneymusawa

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