Hajia Habiba Abdulahi Abubakar is wife of Nigeria’s diplomat, Ambassador Abdulahi Abubakar. Besides being married to a diplomat, she is also one of Nigeria’s leading female entrepreneurs with her fingers in properties, haulage, oil and gas and a humanitarian project – Foundation for the Elderly and the Poor.
The latter, she describes as first of its kind in West Africa. In this chat with FUNSHO AKINWALE, Hajia Abubakar fielded questions about her person, business and other details about her affair with the man who is today her husband.
What are your childhood memories?
My growing up was fun because I was a tomboy; chasing many boys home because I used to fight them and they were scared of me.
What is your opinion of being a celebrity?
Celebrities are leaders in their own fields; who have also excelled in their own ways.
Personally, who do you perceive as celebrities?
Those that have been able to make a positive and meaningful impacts on other peoples’ lives as well as their immediate societies.
Can you share your background with us?
I am from Kano State, born in Kano Municipality. I had both Primary and Secondary education in Kano. After that, I got married to Ambassador Abubakar, a diplomat from Bauchi State. I have been married for the past 18 years and the marriage is blessed with three children, two boys and a girl. Also, I am the founder, Foundation for the Elderly and the Poor, a non-profit making and charity organition. It is the first of- ts kind in West Africa.
Professionally, what are you into now?
My main business is property, which I do here at home and around the world. I have property business in the United Kingdom, America, France, Italy, Dubai and Brazil. I also have business interests in haulage, oil and gas as well as a gaming company online and my NGO.
Which one do you really love doing most?
Property, and well… my oil and gas, they are two lucrative businesses I would advice anyone to go into.
How has your job fared in Nigeria in terms of acceptance and patronage?
They have been well accepted and well patronized. As you can see, I’m doing just good and I give God the glory. I have several agents doing all the marketing while I only do the money collection… (laughs).
How have you been able to impact on the society through your personal gestures?
I think I’m doing just fine. I help a lot of people on a daily basis from paying childrens’ school fees to medical bills of elderly and the poor. Even and our young boys and girls who have no jobs, I engage them and make them realize their individual potentials. And recently, I donated five hectares of land to build a school for the less privileged and a nursing home for the elderly. The value of the land is about N250million.
Are you fulfilled with your philanthropy?
Not yet; human wants are always insatiable. I believe I still have a lot more to give to my people and the society.
Do you have any regrets so far?
First, associating myself with (Nollywood actor) Jim (surname withheld by us) still remains one of my regrets. The media also reported that I had an affair with (another Nollywood actor) Chidi (surname also withheld by us); they even claimed I had a child for him. Imagine such a slanderous report, a child for another man while I am still in my husband’s house? It’s not funny at all. Did I carry the pregnancy inside sack or what? Why I didn’t react or respond to the false allegation is because my family and friends appealed to me to disregard such stories and concentrate on my work.
What and who inspires you in life?
My biggest inspiration is Prophet Mohammed.
What advice do you have for female entrepreneurs?
Keep working hard, I believe the sky is your limit, because I started with just N500,000 only, but today, I’m now an international business woman with properties scattered around the world. I bought my first Truck/Trailer when I was 16 years of age. I’m into real estate, and property management in Nigeria and around the world, all glory to God.
What is your perception of love?
You see, I don’t believe in love. I really have nothing to contribute to this. A lot of people have different meanings and interpretation of love but for me, there is no true or genuine love like that of mother to her child; that love is agape, such love is hard to find, so I don’t believe in love because people lie a lot; they fake to love and can claim to love 200 people at the same time, how is this possible?
But would you say love has been fair to you?
I can’t say!
Because I have never fallen in love before, but I can tell you for real that marriage has been fair to me indeed.
How supportive is your husband in your ventures?
My husband was instrumental to the actualization of my dreams; for furthering my education when he sponsored me to read Mass Communication at the prestigious University of Science and Technology, Haryyana India, (Gurujambeshwar). After my first degree, I proceeded to the United Kingdom to read Management Studies at the PGD level from Stratford College (Edexcel) and HND in Information Technology from Edexcel. He is still a strong pillar of support to me in all my endeavours.
How did he react to the issue of Jim Iyk?
He was very supportive of me. He said ‘no matter what, I know the truth’, after hearing this from my husband, I really wept.
Can you briefly tell us the type of person your husband is?
He is quite reasonable, stress-free and always there for me. Nobody would have married me except him because I am not a woman any man can live with, shake or bully; I am a man in a woman’s body. Men don’t really bother me, I can trash them anytime.
Did you play hard to get when ambassador approached you?
I didn’t do ‘boyfriend-girlfriend’ relationship because men were scared of me. I never had a boyfriend while growing up.
Was there any objection to your union with him?
Yes, some people told him not to marry me because I was rude, tomboy and masculine, if you know what I mean, but it didn’t work. To the glory of God, we have been married for 18 years now without any hiccups. I have never left him for once and never been divorced; we are still and will remain together.
How do you cope with marital challenges?
Mine has no challenge, otherwise I would have gone long time – walked out of the marriage but you know what, I couldn’t have married any other person except him, this is really from the depth of my heart.
What is that one thing you really like about him?
His class and amiable mien.
What is that other thing you don’t like about him?
His quietness; he’s too gentle for my liking.
How fashionable are you?
I wish this question was meant for him because he is a fashion icon. I got to know all those designers through him. Designers like Dunhill, Bally of Switzerland, Rolex, Ebel, Gucci, Burberry etc. As far as I am concerned, I care less about going the extra mile in fashion items. I love simplicity; I just want to look good and simple.
Which are you comfortable with, English or native dress?
I use both, but English more.
Who determines what you wear?
Myself and His Excellency, my husband.
What are your diet and fashion routines?
I really don’t have any. I am a simple lifestyle woman.
How do you unwind?
At home because I don’t hang out, it might interest you to know that I don’t drink, and I don’t club. You won’t ever believe that I have never been to a nite club in my life.
What is your favourite food?
Plantain and eggs with weak tea.
Briefly describe yourself
I am a community service activist and that has not gone unnoticed everywhere I have been to around the world, particularly in countries where my husband served as Ambassador. I have received several awards from home and abroad including the highest honour from the United Nations as Peace and Charity Ambassador.
Where is your favorite holiday spot?
I have interest in traveling for sight-seeing. I was particularly thrilled by Nepal among the countries I have visited. I am most fascinated with the people and culture of the Nepalese where I saw the highest mountain in the world. I also fell in love with Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Philippines, Singapore and Malaysia and of course, the U.S and Iraq where my husband was the High Commissioner during the Gulf war. But I enjoy visiting Yankari Games Reserve here at home in Bauchi State, to see the wild life.
What drives your passion for your society?
I have used my time, energy and God’s given wealth to put smiles on the faces of the elderly, the weak and the poor. I love the elderly and the poor. I love being with them offering my support in whatever way I can. I founded the NGO – Foundation for the Elderly and the Poor as a non-profit making organisationin 2006 as a demonstration of my passion and commitment towards contributing my own resources and quota to the socio-economic development of my society; Nigeria.