The first lady is one woman who would wish she could change the situation of every needy person due to her sympathy and kindness. The first lady loves to stop by virtually all beds in female and paediatrics wards where she would prefer to meet with common women and children. Her targets, usually, is to come across any woman or child who is sick but in search of material help.
Only, weeks back, Mrs Fatima Ali Sheriff thought it wise to pay visits to vulnerable persons and see their situations and share their grief while proving some sort of relief. The visits, she thought, was her own way of celebrating this year’s democracy day, for she believed that the celebration would be empty if the plight of those in distress wasn’t shared by those in comfort.
The first lady was at the Maiduguri new prisons where she freely interacted with prisoners. She walked round them as she enquired about their health and feeding. Often as she moved, she asked prison warders what offence, some especially young men and women, had committed. She wished she could free every one. But no, she could only free some thirteen persons, among them, a mother of six children. The 13 inmates had run to Mrs Sheriff during the visit and appealed to her to pay the fines which they couldn’t pay and had to be in prison for different offences. They were first offenders, they said, as it was confirmed by prison authorities. Mrs Sheriff was quick to pay N250,000 in her personal capacity to free the convicts, though she insisted they must undertake to be of good behaviours.
The first lady thought about adding value to the ideal concept of prisons, which aimed at reforming individuals and her target, she pledged to provide a skills acquisition centre to be equipped with sewing, knitting machines and Home Economics materials for the female inmates to become self-reliant while serving their jail terms so that they would easily become self employed and useful to themselves and the society when they regain their freedom. The first lady told her aides to immediately liaise with prison authorities so she could repair and furnish a mosque being used by inmates.
Mrs Sheriff then donated 30 bags of rice, beans and detergents, 50 pieces of anti mosquitoes treated nets, 13 cartons of Vaseline, magi cubes and sanitary pads as well as 10 tins of vegetable and palm oil 250 pairs of slippers, to the inmates.
As she left the prisons, the inmates were appreciative of her gesture. Mrs Sheriff thereafter moved to a vulnerable and orphanage home where children without parents or lacking care are being housed and catered for, by government. She demanded to have a face to face interaction with the children, offering psychological relief to the kids as she carried them with adoration. She presented bags of grains, 48 cartons of children beverages, pampers, toiletries, 25 wrappers to them. She was concerned about their future as she encouraged them on education with a promise of helping. The first lady moved to the highly regarded Professor Umaru Shehu Ultra modern hospital, which was built her husband. In her usual tradition, she visited the ante-natal department as well as children ward and female wards. From bed to bed, Mrs Sheriff showed affection to children and women before presenting 24 bags of food items, comprising soya beans, rice, beans and sugar along with 13 cartons of beverages which were shared to the patients.
Specifically, at the ante natal unit, Mrs Fatima Ali Sheriff seized the opportunity to reinvigorated campaign on how to prevent maternal mortality: a call she has consistently been making through providing free maternal health care and organising series of public enlightenment campaigns.
The first lady presented cash gifts of N5,000 to each patient, donating over N600,000 on the spot in addition to donating 50 anti-malaria treated nets, 26 cartons of antiseptic, sanitary pads, multi vitamin capsules and other common drugs required in maternal health care.
But Mrs Sheriff has proved to be a worthy ambassador of women as the content of her characters has been that of advanced motherhood where her thoughts and actions have always centred on the welfare of women and children. No wonder, Dr Buba Mshelia of the Network for the Prevention of Maternal Mortality as well as the Nigeria Medical Association in Borno have always described Mrs Fatima Ali Sheriff as compassionate companion of every woman in Borno. Who else can say the contrary?
Mbaya is an aide to Governor Sheriff