Speaking with The Nation, Madam Aduke Jimoh, popularly known as Mama Aduke, has shared her encounters with the dreaded Boko Haram sect.
She is in her early 80s, very quiet and could easily go unnoticed in a crowd. Although a businesswoman had made money and acquired properties, she is philanthropic and does not live ostentatious life. In her compound in Owo, Ondo state, there are heaps of animal hides and skin, kegs of palm oil, packed in all the corners.
When asked how she got around at her age despite the pervading insurgency, she said that she was not afraid of terrorists.
“I don’t fear anybody except God. Walahi! I have come across tigers, bears and some other dangerous animals and even bandits while crossing the Cameroon border; I have also come across the so-called Boko Haram militants, but I can tell you that they respect me.”
Speaking about her succesfull trading business, Mama Aduk said:
“I don’t know any other business other than buying and selling hides and skin, palm oil, and I have been doing this for the past 60years. I buy my products from Muni in Adamawa state; I had my children and trained them there. I have houses in Damaturu, Baga, Bauchi and in some other places in the North. I am a philanthropist. I hate to see people suffer.”
Encounters With The Boko Haram Sect
The first time Mama Aduke encountered the members of the Boko Haram sect was about 14 years ago, when they were less aggressive.
“I used to meet them in the bush; they were then armed with their riffles and I would be singing for them: Yaro mbasa Yaro, baba Yaro mbasa times, I came across them three years ago and last year. I remember them saying then Yaro, while they in turn would be dancing. And then they would let me go. They used to tie red scarfs on their heads and leather strings on their waists.
“In recent that part of their grievances was that they don’t want prostitution, they don’t want to see people (women) who go about half-naked and many other things. Some of them were Almajiris before. But later I began to hear news of how aggressive they have become. The first time I heard of them ever killing, was when they killed policemen. I felt so bad because that negates the image I had of them.
“In those days, they hardly gave anybody serious cause to worry. Some of them are in Dorobaga, Oke Dutse, where they used stones to build houses. The other issue I heard them complain about was that our government was bad and that after going through school, young people have no jobs. They also said as an old mother or woman like me is supposed to be entitled stipends from the government and not be working like I was doing,” she said.
Mama Aduke added that the Boko haram members usually sang and danced every time she met them:
“Whenever I see them, they would start singing for me and they would be dancing too. I used to meet them around the Maiduguri border.”
Continuing her narration, Mama Aduke said that the Boko haram members used to tell her that they would stop fighting the day someone like Muhammadu Buhari became president, because all graduates who are out of job would get jobs.” However, she denied the allegations that Buhari was behind their insurgency as it was widely rumoured.
“Buhari has no hands in it and neither does IBB; people just mischievously used their names because of their fame,” she said.
Aside the Boko haram insurgency, the octogenarian businesswoman and other traders used to encounter other dangers while traversing the country.
“We use to see dangerous animals like tiger, but I never afraid. Whenever I saw them, I would say ‘Kai na mana!’ and they would go into the river. I remember when some bandits attacked us when our vehicle broke down around Potiskum.
“They did not attempt raping me; you know I am an old woman. They just took my money, 50,000 naira and left,” she said.
When asked if she has some supernatural powers that keeps her from dangers, the woman gave a knowing smile and said “I don’t know”.
Over time Mama Aduke has acquired competence in several languages and is very proud of it.
“If you know the kind of people you do business with, you learn their languages. I speak Yoruba, which is my language; I speak Hausa language, like I’m chewing kolanuts; while the French language for me is like speaking my Owo dialect. So you see, I am a linguist,” the woman said proudly.
Coming Back Home
“I came back home due to my old age. I had all my children in the North and they all went to school there. Today they are scattered all over; some are in the US, the UK, and Nigeria, practicing their different chosen professions. As I speak, I not only have landed properties in the North, I also have houses. So I am blessed. Some of my children are still in Damaturu. However, my husband is dead,” she said.
Faith In Buhari
Mama Aduke revealed that she knew President Muhammadu Buhari before he was elected, adding that she had no doubts that he would deliver all his campaign promises.
“I know Buhari; now that he has come, there will be peace. He is not the greedy type, he has only one house. He is also a generous man. I remember when I met him during a Ramadan festival, we all went of his house where he fed us and gave us money.”
Mama Aduke’s Wish When She Passes Away
“I want to be buried in my house in Owo. I have houses in my town, Owo. Like I said earlier, I also have houses and pieces of land in the North. I am an old woman; I don’t need money for anything. All that gives me joy now is to assist people who are in need.”