Hajiya Fati Maitalle Tara, made news recently when she made a personal donation of One Million Naira out of her business savings to General Muhammadu Buhari’s campaign when he visited Kebbi state.
She tells Leadership’s YAHYA SARKI why she thought Buhari deserves to win:
The APC Presidential campaign to Kebbi ahead of the 2015 elections witnessed unprecedented turn out in Kebbi state. Thousands of people including married women and children came out and waited for about thirteen hours to catch a glimpse of the party’s presidential flag bearer, Muhammmadu Buhari.
The mammoth crowd gathered at the Sir Ahmadu Bello International Airport and lined the streets all the way to Haliru Abdu Stadium in Birnin Kebbi, the venue of the campaign rally.
The event was also characterised by three major side attractions which included the procession of 500 donkey riders, the procession of over two thousand people comprising artisans, hunters, fishermen, hawkers who trekked on foot covering more than 35 kilometers from their destinations in Jega to Birnin Kebbi just to catch a glimpse of the gap-toothed General that seems to have won the hearts of millions of Nigerians.
The third most striking side attraction which captivated the eager crowd took place at the airport where a 95-year-old woman, Hajiya Fati Koko popularly called ‘Mai Talle Tara’ waited for over nine hours to see Buhari and register her support for him. For the old woman, age does not matter in deciding the future of Nigeria.
Hajiya Fati, a popular business woman in Koko, Koko local government of Kebbi State, had made a personal donation of N1million to General Buhari’s campaign when he visited the state out of her business savings. This is despite her other contributions which ran into millions of naira for the success of APC in the state.
LEADERSHIP was in Koko and met the 95 years old woman, who despite her immense contributions to what she termed a worthy cause, seemed unassuming. Calmly seated by her pots containing variety of soups in her restaurant in Koko, she narrated why she endured for many hours at the airport despite her old age to see Buhari and why she made such a huge financial sacrifice for his success at the polls.
According to Hajiya Fati, her natural likeness for the general whom she described as an honest, principled and God-fearing gentleman dates back to 1983 when he took over as Head of state. She explained that the genesis of her rise to moderate riches was due to Buhari’s honesty which many Nigerian leaders lack.
According to her,“I was a contractor at that time. When Buhari took over, I executed a contract at a school in Gummi, now Zamfara State, worth about N40,000. Payment for the job done was denied me by the then Sokoto State government. I took a loan from several people just to execute the contract. But under Buhari, a committee was set up for verification which objectively inspected the project and recommended immediate payment without any kick back. I constructed two blocks of classrooms but because the then government did not want to pay me, they accused me of conniving with the engineer to carry out substandard work. But as I said, Buhari’s committee came and verified my work as one of the best and I got paid eventually,” she said.
Hajiya Fati recounted how the verification of her contract was carried out with honesty by the committee members. “Yes, at that time during Buhari’s regime, honesty and transparency were the order of the day. One of the committee members used a digger to hit the blocks I had constructed with several times but it showed no sign of cracking and he said “this is a good work,” she said.
“I have respect for Buhari, for his honesty and discipline and for that, I always dream of his leadership style again in Nigeria where corruption would seize and discipline would be restored in the society,” she added. Fati further explained that time has never wavered her love and support for Buhari and she has followed his political journey from ANPP, CPC and now APC with keen interest. “My late son, Lawali and I have made several sacrifices to the success of Buhari’s career both morally and financially. When Buhari was denied the leadership of this country in 2011 under the platform of ANPP, I decided not to take keen interest in politics again, but any time the name Buhari comes up again for president, I jump back on the train for a better Nigeria. I completely trust him to turn around our fortunes in this country”.
Apart from her financial contributions to his campaigns, she has also succeeded in converting many supporters of PDP to join the APC. “The people here know it and they can testify to that as I am talking to you now, APC has overrun Koko 99%”.
The old woman was respectfully and gently treated at the airport when Governor Wamakko of Sokoto State greeted her and ushered her to see Buhari on his arrival. Upon landing, Buhari himself headed straight to greet Hajiya Fati.
When asked how she felt when he greeted her warmly, she simply said, “He is a man of the people. I was offered a seat near him. We greeted with joy, happiness and I said, “Baba, you have come”, he replied “yes” and I said “God bless you! Carry on with your good intentions for the people” and he said “I will”. Thereafter, we snapped a photo together,” she said smiling.
LEADERSHIP gathered that Hajiya Fati Mai Talle Tara does not charge a kobo at her catering services when ever the APC is having any event in Koko area. She is also said to give special discounts during the visit of Buhari to Kebbi.
Her advise to Nigerians: “My fervent wish for Nigeria is to receive General Buhari not only in Kebbi, but all over the country to experience the rebirth we desperately need. I believe the man to take Nigeria to the promised land is Buhari, my politics is simply for Buhari till my life ends.”
Hajiya Fati is well known in Koko town for her restaurant business. According to her, she started food selling twenty years ago but she was into trading with her late son long before she ventured into restaurant business. According to her, she has fifteen children and many grand children. Despite her age, she shows no sign of slowing down.
Her final words to people, “Change comes with time and Buhari personifies the change we need at this point in time. He is the change we are all clamouring for. I prayed for Buhari and asked clerics to do same and the result is manifesting , Buhari’s enemies have now become his lovers”, adding “Do you know why I still like Buhari? He stands for truth and bears the name of my late father,” she concluded, smiling.