Politics, as an all-comer game, does not often invite the best and the decent. Infact, it is a territory where those who often excel rationalise their success on the basis of how well they play one dubious role or the other, taking others down in order to climb up in a steep ‘man eat man’ political terrain.
But politics doesn’t have to be all about plotting and deceit, it could wear a human face that prioritizes a clear devotion to the wellbeing of others, paying attention to the pains of the people and being the one that help to cushion the hardships. Not many politicians choose this path, at least not before they get political positions that give them access to the common wealth which they still grudgingly share with the people. It’s almost a cliche to hear politicians saying, “owo Abu lafi nse Abu lalejo,” crudely translated to mean, ‘You only give people the money you make from government on people’s behalf.’ It’s very uncommon to see a politician who is yet not occupying a government position sharing his wealth with the needy and the poor.
It’s this unpopular habit that Hajia Maryam Yusuf has exhibited over the years, something that makes her a completely different breed as a politician; clearly different from the lot who waited to make money in government before lending a helping hand to people in order to court their support.
Through her not-for-profit organization, May Foundation, Hajia Maryam Yusuf was almost like a government on her own during the COVID-19 lockdown, sharing food items and money to cushion the effect of the lockdown on the poor. She is often a regular face at orphanages and hospitals, helping those who are in desperate need of assistance to get back on their feet and face life with a decent face.
Through the platform of a political group formed in her name, Hajia Maryam Yusuf Forum, the kind-hearted emerging political lioness has been able to reshape the language of political participation for many of her followers, extending to them a level of support that makes them feel valued and appreciated, raising their ego and selfworth beyond the level of political footsoldiers and errand boys.
Today in Kwara, not many aspiring female politicians, especially in the All Progressives Congress, APC, have the sort of committed grassroot followership of Hajia Maryam Yusuf. And this is the strength she is building that would keep her in the game for a long time.
In the coming weeks and months, especially when the political climate will change to unveil a season of politicking and elections, Hajia Maryam Yusuf would be a front-runner politician to watch out for, especially as she leads her devoted followers and supporters, many of whom have come to reciprocate her genuine love and concern for their welfare, to support the political party and candidates that meet her own standard and expectations of a politics driven by a strong commitment to the wellbeing of the ordinary people.