Aisha Alhassan may have resigned her position as Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development only on Saturday, but that was a whopping 12 months after she said she would — and five months after she really should have.
In September 2017, ‘Mama Taraba’, as she is fondly called by her supporters, swore “to Allah” to resign as Minister in the event that President Muhammadu Buhari decides to seek re-election. This, she did, minutes after reaffirming her loyalty to former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar and his perennial presidential ambition.
“Atiku has been my godfather even before I joined politics. And again, Baba Buhari did not tell us that he is going to run in 2019,” Aisha explained to BBC Hausa radio.
“Let me tell you today that if Baba says he is going to contest in 2019, I swear to Allah, I will go before him and kneel and tell him that ‘Baba I am grateful for the opportunity you gave me to serve your government as a Minister but Baba just like you know I will support only Atiku because he is my godfather… if Atiku says he is going to contest.”
When Alhassan’s talk went viral, she responded by insisting she would not mind getting sacked.
“If because of what I said, I am sacked, it will not bother me because I believe in Allah, that my time has elapsed; that is why,” she said.
“Baba is not a mad man like those calling for my sack. They have been sending it and spreading that if Baba sees this I will be sacked.”
Surprisingly, when Buhari officially declared his intention to seek re-election, Alhassan failed to abide by her words, but who can blame her? Even Buhari himself had said in 2015 that at 72, he was already limited by age; despite this, he will be standing for election in 2019, which time he would be 76.
Apparently, the APC was only biding its time before dealing with Alhassan. On Thursday, the National Working Committee of the party screened her out of the Taraba State governorship race, prompting her to quit both her ministerial position and the party on Saturday.
She subsequently announced that she had joined the United Democratic Party (UDP) — along with “seven state assembly members, all APC executives from 169 wards of Taraba State, all 16 local government excos of APC, all state executives of APC.”