Ummahani Ahmad Amin is a 47-year-old, Shuwa Arab from Borno State. She is the first of 14 siblings and is the conference chair of The African International Conference on Islamic Finance. She speaks to Tambari on life, Islamic Banking and much more.
I am a legal practitioner with 18 years post-call. For my LLB I went to Bayero University and did my Masters in Business and Commercial Law from Bayero University also. I also have a diploma in negotiation skills from the Institute of Negotiations in South Africa. I am a certified PPP expert from the Institute of Public-Private Partnership Washington.
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I had my secondary school in a number of schools from Lagos to Kaduna because my parents were always on the move. I went to Government Secondary School Kawu, Kaduna State. I went to Primary school in Zaria
I served at CBN, Jos branch and then started my career as a litigation lawyer with Solomon Umoh and Co in Jos and then moved to the Chambers of Mohammed Shuaib with a speciality in appellate briefs and arbitration in Abuja both as a counsel in chambers. Two years after, I moved to Northbridge Investment and Trust Limited as the General Counsel. Three and a half years after I started my law practice as a sole proprietor under The Metropolitan law firm in 2008, a corporate commercial law firm and alongside it, The Metropolitan Skills Limited, a capacity building and consulting firm with a strong bias for Islamic finance. It’s now a partnership with offices in Abuja and Lagos and I’m the managing partner. I’m also the conference chair of The African International Conference on Islamic Finance.
What is the African International Conference on Islamic Finance all about?
The African International Conference Islamic Finance is an annual event convened by the Metropolitan skills in partnership with the Metropolitan law firm and other stakeholders. We had the fourth edition in 2019, where we had partners like the Financial system strategy 2020 an arm of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Islamic Institute of Southern Africa, IFC UK and the camps which represent key stakeholders in the financial sector, giving them the opportunity to interrogate the financial ecosystem in view of seeking contemporary and creative ways of creating a viable Islamic finance Ecosystem In Nigeria and Africa at large. The Metropolitan Skills started organizing this in 2014
The 5th edition will be held in November this year. This is a milestone, that my team and I are proud of. From the early introduction of the concept we started the conference, it is gratifying to see the adoption of Islamic finance instrument across the Nigerian financial sector. This has indeed widened and Nigeria started Islamic banking in 2011 with a stand-alone bank, and within ten years we have two stand-alone banks and the third one is in the offing, now we have Jaiz and TAJ bank and are doing extremely well.
At this rate, I think the Nigeria Islamic finance sector will attract cross border transaction and we will be managing assets of about 15 trillion in a few years, In Sha Allah.
The theme for the fourth conference was on infrastructure financing and this is why we decided to keep the theme for this year because this is something both Nigeria and Africa grapple with. So the conference theme for this year is infrastructure financing sustainability and the future of the African market.
The introduction of non-interest financial product provides an alternative to government and private entities to finance long term projects such as roads, schools hospitals factories, etc.
The theme is focused primarily on infrastructure development via Islamic finance as a tool for financial inclusion and poverty alleviation and promoting economic growth. African infrastructure needs are highly significant with many African countries presently being challenged in infrastructure demands it has become very crucial to consider alternative funding.
On that note Islamic finance, which obviously has contributed immensely to the infrastructural development in the Middle East, South Asia and countries in Europe, hence the need to replicate that in Africa
What was growing up like?
It was beautiful. I was the first and the favourite. They call me daddy’s eyes. I hung out a lot with my dad. And I played a lot.
I have learnt that the best things in life are free. One of them is being selfless. I have also grown to love the woman I have become. Regardless of all the struggles, whether at work or at home.
Aspirations growing up
To be better than I was yesterday. To be able to lead an impactful life. To be a role model to other women
Fond childhood, I still cherish
Waiting for the ice cream van in the scorching sun. I cherish those memories.
Being a northern Muslim woman who wants to change the narrative. It has been one hell of a journey and it still is. Alhamdulillah
My most cherished gift
A camera from my dad. That is one gift I cherish a lot.
My motherhood joys
It’s beautiful and challenging, especially for a young mother. I grew up with my child. Most times, I didn’t know what to do, but being a mother is an absolutely amazing experience
Favourite kind of music
My favourite growing up was Salt-N-Pepa and Michael Jackson. Interestingly, both are still my favourites.
The first App I check in the morning
Favourite fashion items
What I wouldn’t be caught wearing
A short dress or anything that will expose my legs
Best travel destination
Makkah, Al-Haram. It’s beautifully peaceful, especially if I travel alone.
Best form of relaxation
The best way I relax is either by sleeping, cooking, gardening or reading a comic. These are the ways I relax.
I prefer liquid to solid, but my most favourite is milk. Cold or hot alongside anything else.
My definition of style
My definition of style is knowing what suites me regardless if it’s in vogue or not.
Favourite fashion designer
Reedas. Her simplicity is amazing.
Favourite perfume, designer bag and shoes
Bracken by Amouage is my favourite perfume, for bags, Channel bags are my favourite. They are deviously beautiful. Bottega shoes are my favourite.
Mum’s advice that has stuck to date
She always said, “You should know where you come from. Always remember your values.”
Favourite sport, colour and season
Rodeo (bullfighting) is my favourite sport. I love the colour, black and the rainy season is my favourite season.
Favourite day of the week
Friday, because I will have time to be with me
The sealed nectar. It’s a biography of the prophet. I’m always in awe of the life he has lead.
Cooking, gardening and sometimes reading, but my best is, hanging out with me (My me time)
I have a simple beauty routine, I shower and moisturize and that’s it.
Advice to northern young ladies
Firstly, Success is an amazing feeling, but there’s another feeling that’s even more satisfying; More Success. No matter how much or little you’ve accomplished, keep your head up and keep looking forward.
Secondly, I want you to be intentional with your career progression; plan for what you want, but be mindful that the trajectory you envision may not be the path you end up taking, and that’s completely fine.
Thirdly, start early, start small, start now. Make mistakes and grow. Life is not a sprint to the finish line, it’s a marathon. Build your endurance, learn the ropes, and master your craft.
Finally, be daring, be bold. Explore as much as you can. Nothing is irrelevant. Sieve through the many to find what best suits your skillset.
Looking back at your life, what would you tell a younger you?
Be strong, hard-working and persistent. Be kind to yourself and others.