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My father was IBB’s driver —Hon. Binta Masi Garba

When she rose to speak to the girls, Binta Masi Garba first addressed the daughter of former military President Ibrahim Babangida, who is also the…

When she rose to speak to the girls, Binta Masi Garba first addressed the daughter of former military President Ibrahim Babangida, who is also the wife of the Zamfara state governor, Alhaji Mahmuda Aliyu Shinkafi, with whom she was sitting on the “high table”.

“Your Excellency”, she said, “I have a confession to make. You may not know it, because at that time you were a little girl, my father was your father’s driver. But now I am sitting with you on the same ‘high table’”.

To come this far, Binta (as she is popularly called in her constituency) narrated how she had to struggle through life. At one point, she said, she had to hawk bread to complement what her parents earned. “When I was in form five, I used to hawk bread. At that time, I was known as ‘Binta Mai Biredi (Binta the bread seller)’”, she said.

She also disclosed that besides hawking bread, she fried and sold akara (bean cake) and sugar cane in the barracks where she lived. To encourage her, she added, her mother used to tell her that “wahala ba ta kisa (i.e. suffering does not kill)”.

But today, the daughter of a soldier from a class of military personnel “that was made to wash clothes, drive cars, and run errands for officers”, and whose mother sold akara by the road side, has risen to sit on the same table with people who were born with a silver spoon. The only difference many in the audience might have noticed was the accent with which they spoke their English: while Hajiya Aisha spoke with an accent that revealed that she must have studied (possibly throughout her schooling) in Britain, Honourable Binta spoke with the same accent as virtually all her listeners. But then, that was another lesson: even without crossing the borders of your locality, you can achieve a lot.

Born in April 1967 to Corporal Garba Tunba (retired) and Hajiya Hauwa Masi Garba Tunba, Honourable Binta is a veteran member, who has been in the House since the inception of the current democratic dispensation in 1999. She started work with the New Nigerian Newspapers before she resigned in 1998 to venture into politics. Between 1999 and 2003, she represented Kaduna South Federal Constituency. In 2007, she went back ‘home’ to represent the people of Madagali/Michika Federal Constituency in Adamawa state — the only legislator who has had the ‘fortune’ to represent two different constituencies in the National Assembly. Between 1999 and 2003 she contested on the platform of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), while in 2007 she crossed over to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Apart from chairing the House Committee on Women Affairs, Binta Masi Garba also serves on other committees which include House Services, FCT Area Councils, Inter-Parliamentary Relations, and Pension.  She holds an HND in Marketing from Kaduna Polytechnic. She attended Kaduna Primary School, Army Children’s School, Cantonment D, from 1975 to 1981; and Government Day Secondary School, Kurmin-Mashi from 1981 to 1986. In 1986, at the age of 18, she was married off.

She has received a number of awards including Jaycees International Young Person Role Model Award, Prime International’s Women in Leadership Merit Award, Association of Market Women and Men’s Abuja Role Model Award, Dame Publication’s Nigerian Women Award (Role Model), Leadership Distinction Award (Most Distinguished Representatives), and Valuable Contribution to Development of Parliamentary Democracy in Nigeria Award.

When she stood before the girls at the Girls’ Education Summit, she spoke with the verve of the proverbial bat which has seen all the nights.

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