At an incredibly young age, love sought and found her. She was the petals young men sought to pick, but the benefit of hindsight made her follow a man who was much older but with the enduring will to be her man. God rewarded their labour of love and the man rose to become the Deputy Governor of Borno State after being a fulfilled technocrat. It explains why Zannah Umar Mustapha, her late husband rather his wife, Hansatu Zannah watch the home-front full time. But the bliss soon vanished as the man died whilst still serving his state. Amidst torns, for a lady who never had to labour for money, she staggered through business naivety, got manipulated typical of one in her state and she took a break to launch a grand come-back.
Zannah obtained her Bachelors and Masters degrees in Mass Communications from the University of Lagos.
This Amazon recounts how life brought her way bitter and sweet tales of survival.
Her life was tangled in some kind of traumatic web, and this Amazon recalls her grim tale, what she would have done differently and how she waltzed out of despair.
Your late husband was the former deputy governor of Borno State, how has life been like after his demise and how have you been coping as a single mother of 3?
First of all, I will like to say that all praise is due to Allah. My late husband was more than just a husband to me, he was my best friend, my confidant. He was God-sent, after God he was next. He was my semi-god . We were so close , you can imagine what it’s like not having him around. He had really spoilt me (laughing) that I still keep imagining if anyone can fit into his shoes. Honestly speaking, in the beginning it was not easy to believe he was gone, because myself and the children were on vacation in America when we got to see the news on Facebook it was so devastating and it was the biggest shock of my life. I couldn’t believe it because I spoke to him that night and to wake up to such sad news on Facebook was definitely unbelievable. Before we got back he was already buried, so it was difficult to believe he was gone . It took me almost two years to get on my feet again . I was so lucky in my marriage and having him as a partner. I will say I’m one of the few women marriage favoured . He did everything for me . I never lacked anything . He was really caring and loving. He was a family man , for him family comes first in as much as he was busy he always created time for family vacations and can call you 20 times in a day to know how you are doing . He wanted the best for his family. We were the cynosure of all eyes . He will be three years gone on 15th of August . We were married for 20 years and for those years he had been the bread winner. As I earlier said he provided everything hence it took me that long to get back on my feet, but we thank God . God has been faithful and merciful to me and the children. We are doing fine by his grace, I am learning and growing stronger and taking each day as it comes. When life throws you lemon you have to make lemonade out of it .
Rumour out there is that, your husband didn’t die a natural death, it was said to be pre-empted. How true is that?
Well, from Allah we come and to him we shall return . As a Muslim the 7th article of faith which is you believe in either good or bad. Whether killed or not I believe it was his appointed time. If it is your appointed time you cannot delay it for a second and if it is not your time even if the whole world was to gather to take your life it won’t be possible unless Allah permits. Every living soul shall taste death .
How did you meet your husband, was it love at first sight or you were introduced to him?
It’s a long story. We were destined to be together. We were not introduced but for him I think it was love at first sight. My dad was a naval personnel, so also was his uncle, we grew up in the barracks in Lagos . I always say I’m a barrack girl. We were family friends with his uncles’ family, so from time to time himself and his friends will always come around to say hello to my family. We were all so small then. Anytime he came around he was fondly called uncle Mustapha . So one day, he told my mum’s sister that they should stop calling him uncle because he was not related to us and my sister would ask why? One day he said to her, “I’m going to marry Hansatu” and she started laughing and came to me to say uncle Mustapha said he was going to marry you. I just ignored her as far as I can remember I was in primary 6, why would someone in primary 6 be thinking of marriage . He then went to my mum and said I’m going to marry your daughter. My mother laughed and gave him that look, who will give you my daughter?
My father passed away so we had to relocate to Jos. My mum said it was better we go home to be close to our family. I gained admission into secondary school not knowing he still had me in his mind. I don’t know how he got to know where I was schooling, that was in FGGC Kazaure, which was formerly in Kano State but now in Jigawa state. So he sent a friend of his a letter with money to me but it never got to me, he thought I got it and never responded. We came to realise that after we finally met. Then another letter came to me not through anybody this time around but through the post office, I was in my final year now, I replied him he just asked after my mum and siblings. A neighbor from Lagos came visiting us in Jos and the news got round to them that this person saw us he was so happy to hear that. Then a friend of his was coming from Bauchi and he told him to come to Jos, he described the place to his friend as if he was there, he got the description from the other neighbor . His friend actually came and visited us and said Mustapha said I should get your picture to prove I’ve seen you guys. Immediately the friend gave him my picture, I got a letter saying he was coming and before I knew it, he was in Jos, and made his intentions immediately known . At the time, there were so many suitors coming for my hand in marriage, I just said this must be my true love for someone to love me since I was a little girl nobody can beat that, and that was how we became one and the rest was history. He was a goal getter, that’s one of the qualities I loved about him. Whatever he set his mind on , he went after it and got it done . We were ordained from above.
When you are not busy, how do you relax?
I relax at times by listening to the recitation of the Holy Quran, watch TV, read books and also go to the spa .
What’s the biggest sacrifice you have made so far?
I think one of the biggest sacrifices was not fulfilling my childhood dream as a newscaster. As the saying goes, “catch them young” , so my hubby caught me young. I got married early, though I have my BSc and MSc in mass communication from the University of Lagos, I also did my youth service at channels TV. After all the schooling my hubby said I would not work . He never wanted me to do anything, he said we both couldn’t be chasing money at the same time , that I had to be at home to take care of the children . I think that was the best decision so far. If I have to do it all over again, I will do it the same way. My first child is a graduate from the university, those that don’t know him thinks he is my brother. So staying at home taking care of my children was worth everything. I don’t have any regrets and the sacrifice was worth everything.
Through your journey in life as a wife, mother and a business oriented woman, is there anything you do wish if you had the opportunity, you would have done differently?
Yeah, what I would have done is to at least put more pressure on my hubby to be self reliant, that would have been difficult though because I had everything at my disposal and was too comfortable and lazy (chuckles). As much as one is comfortable I think one should have something doing especially when the children are grown. That is why it took me two years to get on my feet. I had to close the business for a year because I did not know where and how to start. A woman should be productive even if you are married to a billionaire. You should keep yourself busy, have a knowledge and experience on how the business is being run so that in case of any uncertainties you know how to manage the family, business and have something to fall back on if not people would want to take advantage of the fact that you have no idea of what you are doing. If you have all the businesses and money and you don’t know how to run it within the twinkle of an eye everything will be gone. Someone told me it’s quite unfortunate your northern men don’t want you women to work that is why it’s so difficult for you northern women to pick up. Even the prophet’s wife was a business woman. So for me, I think every woman should be enterprising and up and doing.
You’ve been privileged to be in the corridors of power as the wife of the former deputy governor of Borno State, if given the opportunity to go back to any position of power, what would you like to change?
Wow, I think this is kind of difficult but for me, I think is the perception of people. The way people perceive politics is so bad. People don’t accept change at all. They still believe it should be done the old way. They believe once you are in politics you are sitting on top of money to be dishing out to them . Once you start giving out money how is the development going to take place? Everybody thinks you can solve their problems, some will start saying she has made new friends. The other ones are saying she doesn’t want to help us, for crying out loud I don’t have any political power or salary. All they see is the paparazzi , the sirens and the securities, they don’t know what one is going through. I will want to educate them . Education is key and make them realise that that’s not what politics is all about, create people oriented programmes on how they view politics. People want things to be done immediately, whereby development is a gradual process. Rome was not built in a day.
Where’s your favourite holiday spot in the world?
France, America and Dubai
Since you are in the know of Nigerian politics, do you have any political ambition?
Politics is all about serving humanity and touching lives and making positive changes for the betterment of our society.There are other ways in which people’s lives can be touched. It’s not only in politics people’s lives can be touched, but the way it is played in Nigeria for now, no. I want to have my sanity , peace of mind to be able to sleep well. But maybe in the future, you can never tell .
Knowing your religious status, do you have plans to get married in the future again?
That’s a tough one. Religion wise, it is allowed, when the time comes I will cross that bridge let’s leave it at that, but for now I want to concentrate on my children’s school and focus on how to grow my business .