My name is Aisha Muhammed Lawal. I am the fifth child of Alhaji A.G. F. AbdulRasaq and Alhaja Raliat AbdulRasaq. I was born in Ilorin on the 20th of March, 1966. I attended St. Joseph’s Primary School, Ilorin, and I went to Queen Elizabeth Secondary School, Ilorin, I finished in 1982 and I went on to Zaria.
I was at the College of Advanced Studies then we were there to do IJMB, something similar to A-level.
From there, I went to Ahmadu Bello University (ABU). I got a degree in Microbiology in 1988. I did my Youth Service at Shell from there I went to work in Lagos. From there, I went to work in a bank, Chartered Bank and I was with Chartered Bank for 10 years. I left the bank when I was getting married. I got married to late Alhaji Muhammed Alabi Lawal in 1999. I am blessed with four children, a girl and three boys.
How does your background influence your life?
I had a happy childhood. I am the fifth child, so I had the older ones. I was a younger girl so I was like everybody’s baby. I wasn’t spoilt because my mother was sort of a disciplinarian. There were so many children that went through her. We had a lot of aunties that lived with her, all her brothers’ children were brought up by her. My mum was a very strong woman because she believed in discipline. She was a very pleasant person, nice, gentle, kind and very generous.
My Dad was away a lot of time because he was working in Lagos. Initially in Ilorin, he was a commissioner when we were in primary school but after a while he moved to Lagos because his chamber was in Lagos. We were brought up to fear Allah. I think that is the basic foundation. Once you have the fear of almighty Allah, everything is built on solid foundation.
At a point you were the First Lady of Kwara state, how did the position influence your relationship with people?
My Mum is a people’s person. She had all sorts of people in the house. Our house was never dull. She had many friends. She had friends that were meat sellers; she had friends at every level. She was an ambassadors’ wife. She was a school proprietress. And at the local level she was a local government councilor. We were brought up to take to people individually no matter the background, which is what I grew up with.
I didn’t see myself in a different light as a First Lady in Kwara state where I am from; I think I am used to my people. I have family, is it that I won’t allow my family to come to my house or my old friends because I schooled in Ilorin and I had a lot of friends. When it was time to go out for outing or anything, they are the people I called first before the politicians. Those are the trusted people. When you are in a position your old friends are always the best to have around you because they are the people that will tell you the truth because the basis of your friendship with them is not on the basis of your position. They’ve known you from before and they’ve know who you are.
How is life at 50?
I am just freshly 50! (general laughter). I don’t feel any different really. I am the same old person that I have been. In fact I don’t think of myself as 50 at all. You don’t think of yourself in your mind as a particular age but you think of yourself as a person.
You look so young even at 50, what is the secret behind it?
One thing I know I do is that I don’t hold grudges. I don’t let things bother me. A lot of people look at me and say “this woman doesn’t get angry.” I do get angry, I do get upset, I am human but I have a very long rope. When people do things to me I give excuses for them. I don’t worry a lot about things. I take life easy.
How do you cope with the loss of your husband? Do you still have so many people around just like when your husband was alive?
When I lost my husband, I had one or two friends that had lost their husbands before me. What they told me was if anybody comes to you and tells you “don’t worry, anything you need call us,” don’t even think about that person. Anybody that wants to assist you or help you in any way will come and do whatever they want to do. When I lost my husband there were just very few people that stood by us. The house used to be so busy when he was around. I thank God for my family for the great support. Especially my elder sister, in terms of people, they were very few.
Recently when you marked your birthday, people trooped in to celebrate with you, how was the feeling like?
I was very happy. I felt appreciated because I can say I am a people’s person. Anytime I have a function, I tell my friends I am not celebrating anything, I want to do it low key. Even this was supposed to be low key. They were asking me, “What do you want for your birthday”? I told them, “nothing, low key. I travelled out of the country; I just came back from Ummrah with my Mum. But my sibling just went out. They were the ones that organized everything. I was so amazed and I was overwhelmed.
You got a brand new car as a birthday gift. Were you aware of it or it was part of the surprise?
Like I told you the birthday was supposed to be a surprise. Knowing that in the family when it is time to do anything I am the one that does the organization being the youngest girl and by virtue of my position I run around for everybody. So I got wind of the party. It is difficult to surprise someone that organsies activities in the family. But they succeeded in surprising me. Even though, the others I got wind of them very late maybe two days or three days before, I found out about the party. But the surprise birthday present, a jeep I didn’t have a clue at all. They kept it under wraps and I was so shocked. And I started crying. I felt so appreciated and I thank God for my siblings and my family.
What will be your advice for the female child out there?
I will still go back to God. God first in everything you do. When you fear God you abide by his word. When you fear God you respect other human being. When you fear God you obey the law of the land. The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom as they say. Once you have that in your mind make sure you have a good education, a solid background, be focused on your career. There is nothing wrong in having it all. You can have a job you can have a family. I am a traditional woman; I respect the marriage institution a lot. I do believe a woman should get married have a good family and children but that does not mean you can’t go out there to work. Do your work, have your own income.
You were definitely brought up by good parents, what do you have to say to them?
I have a lot. First I thank Allah for their lives, I thank my father, I thank my mother. They know the importance of education. They know the importance of bringing up a child in the way of Allah. They know the importance of good morals. I always tell people, the success of a home is 90 percent done by woman because she is the first contact to the children. My Mum has the bulk of the credit yes my father provided for us, he was always there, decision making, he was always giving us a chance to make our own decisions with his support of course. I thank God for my Mum. You can’t go into my mum’s house and not eat something and that she has imbibed in us. I think she got that from her own mother.