Empowering police wives will improve National Security - Zahra Bunu Abubakar

Mrs Zahra Bunu-Abubakar is the President Police Officer’s Wives Association (POWA), and wife of the Inspector General of Police. This pretty amiable personality has distinguished herself by impacting on the lives of Police officers wives. In an exclusive interview with Sweet Angel she reveals how she intends to drive home the vision of POWA and how she met her husband amongst other issues. Excerpts after the cut...

Madam can you briefly introduce yourself? I am Mrs Zahra Bunu-Abubakar, I come from a very big family, not just a nuclear family but extended family. I went to primary School in Maiduguri, Secondary School in Jos Air force Military School, after which I proceeded to UK for my A levels. I later came back to study Civil Engineering in Ahmadu Bello University Zaria after which I went for my Masters in construction management. My Father is an architect and I think that motivated my choice of study. I practiced Civil Engineering for a while and later moved to oil and gas that is where I am right now.

What kind of ambition did you nurse while growing up?
When I was young at about the ages of 7or 8 my Dad engaged in the building of NNPC, after some years when I had gotten into secondary school a lot of people talked and commended the building. I started nursing the ambition of constructing such a building that would attract the admiration of all, but I guess that changed.

What changed it?
Like I mentioned earlier I enjoyed going to site but I encountered a lot of challenges.
How much impact did your Dad have on you?
Not just my Dad, my parents inculcated morals in us, we had both western and Islamic education, we were taught to be honest, we were brought up in such a way that our peers looked up to us.

What is it like being the wife of the Inspector General of Police?
I wasn’t used to being in the limelight, I am more of a private person, initially it was quite challenging but he supported, guided and protected me and now I am better off.

How do you cope with your husband’s hectic schedule?
I knew the man I was marrying, and I also know the security situation in the country and how much Nigerians need him. I also know that security in our country should be given utmost priority in order tocreate a better country and conducive environment for our children. Despite his tight schedule he tries his best to create time for his family.

What is your experience heading an organization like POWA?
The Police Force is the largest single organization in Nigeria and as such POWA is a large family. POWA encompasses both the wives and children of Police officers. It is Police Officers Wives Association but we impact on the lives of our children. A lot of women are idle we all know that sourcing for funds is quite challenging. At the moment we solicit for funds from the general public, captains of industries, and individuals. It is worthy to note that the Nigeria Police Force have always been of support to POWA. Empowering Police wives will help in tackling insecurity in our land. It will also help in eradicating Corruption, as this will accord the wives the opportunity to be of assistance to their husbands, thereby aiding to eradicate corruption in the Force. I feel if they are empowered they would have every reason to contribute their portion in actualizing the vision of POWA.

How have you been able to surmount the Challenges of POWA?
Like I said earlier I came from a large family and there are a lot of women than there are men. I happen to be the first in a family of thirteen, this and the fact that I have a military background to a certain extent has broadened my ability to manage POWA effectively. My father was a politician and I was involved one way or the other. I am used to working with different caliber of people and that has helped. Our major challenge is in the area of funding we have a lot of plans mapped out for the women but insufficient funds have always posed as a challenge. Another challenge asides funds is that most times when we hold meetings a lot of women don’t attend these meetings, and their excuses boils down to funding.

What has been your major achievement since assumption into office?
After taking over from the Acting President in November last year, I continued in line with what the previous President had been doing. Every regime has its strategies, so what we are presently working on right now is the commemoration of POWA’s 50th anniversary which is set to come by April. We have lined up of activities which comprise sporting activities, talent shows, fund raising and dinner amongst others. The sporting activity and talent show is meant to engage our children, we have prizes for winners. We shall be partnering with IGP to further encourage and support the winners. The talent shows are for both the women and children of Police officers. A lot of them don’t have the platform to showcase their talents. This is also an opportunity to bring them to public limelight. The proceeds from the fund raising dinner is meant to acquire skills for the women. A lot of the women have small businesses but do not know how to run or manage them properly; we shall be organizing courses for women on that. We are also trying to build a youth centre in Dedei barracks, which is the biggest barracks in Abuja. There are lots of idle youths due to lack of access to job opportunities, this centre is meant to engage them. There will be skill acquisition centre for the women as well. We shall also organize lectures and trainings for selected women from each state which will run for two days. Asides marking the 50th anniversary of POWA, we have some accomplishments to our credit. Earlier this year there was a School commissioned at Asaba Delta state. There is also the Lagos secretariat multipurpose hall that was also commissioned in Lagos. We are also currently visiting all the barracks here in Abuja to find out how we can assist and empower the women. The issue of empowerment in POWA cannot be overemphasized that is why we are trying to integrate that into our vision and mission statement for POWA. I am also driving a new culture of cleanliness in the barracks, we have enforced meetings and sanitation in the barracks, and mapped out sanctions for defaulters.

What is the vision of POWA?
POWA aims to become an effective, sustainable organization that actively enhances the quality of life of women and children of the Police and serve as a recognized resource for community partnership, post conflict rehabilitation and youth empowerment.

How do you manage, combining your roles as a wife and POWA President?
Obviously my husband is my priority, the association teaches us to support our husbands and so I give him all the required support. My husband is passionate about changing the lives of the Police, he does his best to support POWA.

How has POWA being of assistance to the widows?
We have been trying to ensure they get the benefits of their late husbands. Sometimes these women don’t even know who the next of kin to their husband is, the process of documentation, or how to go about it. During our visits to the barracks we brought in welfare and pension experts to lecture and enlighten them on these important issues. We are presently in discussion with Police Micro Finance Bank to help give soft loans to these women to ensure they have access to funding.

What has being in the limelight denied you of doing?
I don’t think being in the limelight has denied me anything much. Like I said earlier I am generally a private person, so I try to be more of a homely person.

How do you relax?
I like to read a lot, watch movies, and travel.

What is your definition of style, and how do you like to dress?
For me style is not going for what is in vogue, it’s about wearing what suites you and makes you look elegant. I wear what I think looks nice on me and make me look elegant.

What life philosophy guides your daily living and interaction with people?
I generally belief that you should treat one as you would like to be treated, I live my life that way and I am always conscious of life hereafter.

How did you meet your husband?
At a mutual friends house.

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