By Abubakar Imam
Last Wednesday (September 9, 2020) was a great day in the life of a dear sister, a very close friend of mine and, indeed, a determined compatriot in the struggle for the progress of Ilorin Emirate, Hajiya Amina Ibrahim Oniye, the General Manager, Central Region, Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC).
Despite his tight engagement, yours sincerely had elected not to let the aforementioned date and the event that made it special go unmarked, like many others. Two compelling factors informed the superiority of a belated tribute over one never written, in my reckoning. The first is the fact that my path and that of the birthday girl crossed many a time over the years. The other factor is the need to dispel the allegation of misogyny leveled against my tribute series by some readers of the periodic interventions who felt that the series has not been gender sensitive in the celebration of deserving indigenes of Ilorin Emirate. Critics insisted that since no society exists or progresses without women, we should also give consideration to the female folk too, a wrong this piece seeks to right.
Hajiya Amina Ibrahim Oniye,popularly called “Sister”at home and among the inner circle of her friends, was born to the family of “the one and only first Makama of Ilorin”, Alhaji Ibrahim Saadudeen Oniye. Her mother is Alhaja Sidikat Ibrahim Oniye, a Nurse ,Midwife and Princess of Ilawe-Ekiti,the hometown of the late Chief Akin Omoboriowo,the controversial Deputy Governor of the old Ondo State during the Second Republic, and the fiery human rights Lawyer,Femi Falana ,SAN.The date of birth of this “Akikanju Obinrin” was September 9,1974.
Born to a father who does not believe that educating a girl is tantamount to a waste of hard earned resources, this birthday girl started-off as a pupil of a traditional Quranic school where she was trained in the art and science of recitation of the Holy Quran and a good doze of traditional education,which she received while growing-up in the old Ilorin sociocultural set-up where every adult is your parent. This glamorous daughter of Ilorin was also taken through some of the fundamental aspects of the Islamic faith at the Quranic school,an experience and privilege that have contributed most significantly to her emergence as a solid Muslim woman and indomitable patriot.
As she was pursuing Qur’anic training and unregulated indigenous education under the watchful eyes of her foster father and uncle,Alhaji Salaudeen Saadudeen Oniye,the present Imam of Oniye Quarters Mosque,Ilorin, who raised her from the age of four(4), Amina was enrolled as a pupil of the famous Ansarul Islam Primary School, Okekere,Ilorin between 1979 and 1984. She was educated at the 73 years old school, which was established by the legendary pioneer Grand Mufti of Ilorin, Shaykh Muhammad Kamaluddeen Habibulahi Al-Adabiyy,MFR,OFR,ORSA(1905-2005),and renowned for the production of outstanding patriots and wonderful professionals making waves in all facets of life,including the celebrant’s father, along with many other children of her native town and beyond.
After graduating from the Government High School,Adeta,Ilorin,she was trained as a Primary School Teacher at the then Ilorin Teachers College (now known as Sheikh Abdulkadir College), Ilorin, from where he graduated as a Grade II teacher in 1989.
Not willing to limit her education as many of her compatriots did due to one sociocultural factor or the other,Amina’s next port of call was the Kwara State College of Education, Oro. At the College, she studied History and Islamic Studies and graduated with the Nigeria Certificate in Education (NCE).She was at the College between 1990 and 1993.In fact,it was at that College that I met her and we became friends and compatriots ever since.
Determined to excel and succeed in her intellectual pursuit,this outstanding daughter of Ilorin proceeded to the prestigious Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria,where she obtained a Bachelor of Arts(Education)degree in History. She was trained at the institution between 1994 and 1999.She was ,in fact,a prominent victim of the peculiar industrial crises of the nation’s leading University in the 1990s.
For her postgraduate studies, Hajiya Oniye attended the better by far University of Ilorin from where she received her Master’s degree in History. She earned the qualification in 2002.
Amina,who is a Fellow of the Institute of Professional Managers and Administrators of Nigeria(IPMAN), is currently undergoing her Master of Business Administration (MBA)degree at the famous University of South Wales in the United Kingdom. She is also an Associate Member of the National Institute of Marketing of Nigeria (NIMN).
The exciting working career of this illustrious sister of mine began as a Member of the National Youth Service Corps(NYSC). She offered her mandatory national youth service between 2000 and 2001 at the Dugbe District of the defunct National Electric Power Authority (NEPA),where her industry was recognised,harnessed and rewarded.
Upon her completion of the NYSC programme,Hajiya Oniye joined the services of her alma mata, the Kwara State College of Education, Oro,as a Lecturer. She taught at the institution’s Department of History from 2001 to 2003.
Her career path changed from pedagogy to electricity distribution and marketing in June,2003 when she resigned her teaching appointment to join the services of the erstwhile National Electric Power Authority (NEPA) as a Casual Enumerator. She was the team lead of over 50 young graduates,including yours sincerely, who were engaged to enumerate customers of the firm across its old Ilorin District,which now consist of the 85 percent of the geographical territory of the present-day Kwara Region of the Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company (IBEDC).
This birthday girl was still with the organisation when,in preparation for its eventual privatisation, it was transformed into the Power Holding Company of Nigeria(PHCN). As a most cosmopolitan personality,she felt she would be better-off working within and around the nation’s capital. She subsequently transferred her services to the Abuja District of the Company where she served as a Marketer, holding sensitive offices between 2005 and 2013.She was the Manager,Investigation ; and was also the Initiator and pioneer Manager of the Commercial Department, Wuse Business Unit.
Hajiya Oniye also served as the Manager,Customer Care, of the Wuse Business Unit of the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC).She was the Assistant Manager, Commercial Service of the same Company between 2014 and 2015.
In 2015,this enormously determined and courageous birthday girl was appointed as the Area Manager,Kuru and Lugbe Area of the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company. She competently held the office till 2018.
Following her glittering dedication and outstanding competence,Hajiya Oniye was elevated to the rank of a Deputy General Manager of the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company in-charge of the FCT South Region. She Supritendend the services of the AEDC in Abuja between 2017 and 2018.
In June,2018, Hajiya Oniye eventually became the General Manager of the Company. She was placed in-charge of the Kogi Region of the AEDC,which covers the entire Kogi State and parts of Benue,Edo and Kwara States. She held the office between June and October, 2018.
This hardworking lady is,at present, the General Manager of the FCT Region of the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company، where she has not only been giving a good account of herself but has also been promoting the alluring image of Ilorin Emirate. She has also been indirectly telling the rest of the world that “what a man can do, a woman can do it better”.
The younger ones,particularly girls, certainly have a lot to learn from the trajectories of this exceptional amason of the power industry. Her determination to excel is exceptional. Her courage is gargantuan. Her humility to all manners of people, not minding their age and social status,is also unequalled.
What amazes most people about this illustrious daughter of Ilorin Emirate is her meteoric rise through the cadre of her chosen career to attain such a high pedestal in the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company through a dint of hard work. Her story is exceptional for rising from the “ignominious status” of a Casual Enumerator in the Ilorin District of the erstwhile Power Holding Company of Nigeria, to the exalted rank of General Manager in the nation’s leading electricity firm,Abuja Electricity Distribution Company. No one could have reached the rank of General Manager of the AEDC without the combination of paper qualifications and practical competencies on the job. Such a feat is impossible in a public firm not to talk of a private driven organisation where what matters is not where you come from or whom you know, but who you are.
Hajiya Oniye is a woman who has always been passionate about her Ilorin background. She was a prominent member of the Kwara State College of Education, Oro,chapter of the Ilorin Emirate Students Union(IESU) from 1990 to 1993. She also served as the Vice-President of the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, (Samaru Campus)chapter of the IESU between 1995 and 1997 and she is a patron to the Usman Danfodiyo University, Sokoto,chapter of the Ilorin Emirate Students Union, to mention a few of her contributions to the progress and development of Ilorin Emirate.
She has demonstrated her patriotism in so many ways including in the establishment of a charity foundation, which takes care of women,children and orphans,many of whom are currently in various levels of educational pursuit. As a General Manager in the services of the AEDC, Hajiya Amina,according to one of those who benefited from her uncommon generousity, has also facilitated employment for more than 150 indigenes of Ilorin Emirate in the power firm and some other organisations. Some of the beneficiaries of her kindness were assisted with initial accommodation prior to settling down.
Hajiya Amina Oniye,who is married and blessed with children, has,no doubt,secured a space for herself in the comity of accomplished daughters of Ilorin Emirate. I am positive that the likes of Hajiya Raliat AbdulRazaq,the mother to the Executive Governor of Kwara State, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq;Arc.Halima Tayo Alao,the first female Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria from Ilorin Emirate;Senator Rukayat Gbemisola Saraki,the Honourable Minister of State,Transportation and Kwara State’s longest serving federal female legislator;Senator Khairat AbdukRazaq-Gwadabe,the Chairman of the Nigerian Ex-Senators Forum;Prof.Shukurat Adunni Sanni, the first female Professor from Ilorin Emirate and Prof.Medinat Folorunsho Salman,the first daughter of Ilorin Emirate to serve as a Dean of Faculty in any Nigerian University as well as Dr S.S.Abdulbaqi,daughter to the multi-talented late Imam Imale of Ilorin and an Associate Professor of Mass Communication at the University of Ilorin regard her as one of them. The list of such illustrious Ilorin women,who would warmly welcome this birthday girl into their midst also include Pharm. Aduke Ramat Kuranga, Ilorin Emirate’s first female Civil Commissioner;Hajiya Halmat Ajoke Yusuf,OON;the first daughter of Ilorin Emirate to be confeered with a national honour;Hajiya Muslima Kamaldeen,OON,the Ilorin Emirate’s first female Muslim broadcaster and foremost educationist; Prof.Aishat Ahmed Gobir,the first female Professor of Medicine;Prof.Nimah Modupe AbdulRaheem,Ilorin Emirate’s first female Professor of Law and Dr.Habeebat Adam,the Deputy Provost,Administration,Kwara State Polytechnic,Ilorin;and of course,Hajiya Rahmat AbdulRahman,the retired Principal of the premier Girls College in the Northern part of Nigeria,Queen Elizabeth School,Ilorin,as well as Hajiya Iyabo Abubakar,a distinguished Banker and pioneer Director in the Kwara State Internal Revenue Service,to mention a few of the outstanding heroines of Ilorin Emirate.They would agree with other keen observers of the progress of our beloved Emirate that they have a good colleague,sister and daughter in Hajiya Amina Ibrahim Oniye.
In emulating the successes of this birthday girl and her illustrious compatriots mentioned in the preceding paragraph,I think the younger ones should not complain too much but be determined that they would not only go to school but also resolve to pursue greatness by being hardworking while refusing to be intimidated by male dominance in their journey towards the pinnacle of their chosen careers. It is in doing these that they too will deserve being celebrated.
Imam is the National Publicity Secretary, Ilorin Emirate Descendants Progressive Union.