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FEATURE : Hajia Abibata, Accomplished Career Woman With Mission To Lead, Serve and Save

 Chapters are opened to build on past achievements and Hajia Abibata Shanni Mahama Zakariah believes her launch onto the political field is to accomplish that and more. 

Hajia Abibata Shanni Mahama Zakariah, a warrior princess albeit not at battlefield but at the political front. Her mission: to lead, to serve and to save. She has declared her intention to contest the Yendi NPP Parliamentary Primaries with the hope that she gets to represent her people in parliament after the 2020 elections, so she can contribute her bit to further the course of the Yendi Constituency. She has what Jose Mourinho of Manchester United calls football heritage, though not in the world’s famous sport but in politics. 

Her father, Alhaji Shanni Mahama, was a political stalwart and served as a two-time MP for the Yendi Constituency (1969 and 1979). He was the Deputy Agric Minister under Dr K. A. Busia in 1969 to 1972, before the inception of the fourth Republic. Alhaji Shanni Mahama, among other things is largely credited for making Yendi an impregnable fortress for the New Patriotic Party. Such is the heritage of Hajia Abibata Shanni Mahama Zakariah who is banking on the legacies of her late father and those that served after him to be given the nod to continue with their good works. 

On the surface, Hajia Abibata’s immaculate beauty is apparent but dig deep into her life or engage her in a conversation and you will realise she is much more of an embodiment of the timeless caution, never judge a book by the cover. She is articulate, intelligent, firm and fair.

The team caught up with Hajia with the aim of unraveling her life during a recent visit to Yendi. Surrounded by family members and her campaign team at a secluded surburb, the current deputy CEO of Microfinance and Small Loans Center (MASLOC) received us with open arms. Like an army General calling out his adherents for urgent mission, Hajia missed out no one as she opened the interview with greetings to all the people of Yendi Constituency. From regents of both Dagbong gates, Council of Elders and Patrons of the NPP,  the current MP for Yendi, Yendi's Municipal Chief Executive, through NPP Constituency Executives, Poling Station Executives and to the generality of the Yendi people, hajia had words of salutation for everybody. Perhaps, an indication that she has crisp attention to detail and protocol.

As the interview went on, Hajia's knowledge and absolute control over issues tabled for discussion became conspicuous and less surprising considering her rich educational background. Born to an Educationist and Politician father and a merchant mother, Awabu Mahama, on June 11,1980, Hajia had her basic education at the Yendi L/A Primary School,  Naa Yakuba Junior Secondary School, Our Lady of Fatima Junior Secondary School in Tamale and eventually settled at Yaa Asantewa Girls Secondary School in Kumasi. Hajia later studied for a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology with a minor in Philosophy at Ghana's premier University, University of Ghana, Legon. 

She is also an alumnus of the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) of Columbia University in the city of New York. She studied MPA in Public Policy and Administration with emphasis in Economic and Political Development from the school that has the likes of former US President, Barak Obama, Ken Ofori Atta and Kofi Adda as some of its products.

Hajia Abibata Shanni Mahama Zakariah is relatively unknown in Ghana's political circles, so it is safe to describe her as the newest entrant onto Ghana's political landscape. Partisan politics in the country has proven over the years to be very volatile and less charitable to women and a recent International Republican Institute (IRI) study will provide testimonies for rather cruel fate for very competent and industrious women in the likes of Hajia Abibata. 

The IRI's study revealed based on responses from people in three major cities in Ghana that women were encouraged to go into politics because of the security risks involved and the fear of being tagged with unprintable terms. True to this report, Hajia since declaring her intention to contest the primaries, as and when it is due, has attracted some vilifications, which she is well positioned to surmount. Some of the attacks pointed at her, are that Yendi Constituency is a preserve of men. By her performance and achievements so far, they have since revised their stance positively towards her and womanhood in general.

 Her achievements are so overwhelming that her critics  are in shock. To them, she says ‘there is more to come - just watch the space’ and it is all by the Grace and Guidance of Allah’. To settle their discomfort and to rest their case they can contact the stakeholder-institutions and/or the beneficiaries and their relatives for verification. Hajia admits gender disparity is an issue but says she made her bed and so she will sleep on it. In effect, she will rise to the challenge like she has always done in all of her endeavours.

Hajia has a message for people who may want to know her capabilities and achievements - ‘Let them crosscheck from all the institutions that I have worked and find out whether I have ever been found fraudulent or incompetent’, she says. She suggests that this is a yardstick to be used to measure all aspirants of the Great Yendi Constituency. In that regard and for reference sake, she has worked with the Agric Development Bank, Universal Merchant Bank, formerly Merchant Bank, and the Jospong Group of Companies where she worked for over four years. She consulted for the UNDP whiles studying for her Masters in New York, United States of America. She is currently the Deputy CEO of MASLOC since March 2017. She has since been helping to restrurcture and reposition the center as a true national institution. MASLOC has managed to increase its presence from 14 districts to all 216 Districts across the country whiles extending financial support to more start-ups and existing Ghanaian businesses. As she revealed in an interview with the prestigious Amazon Watch Magazine early this year, she has been part of all recent MASLOC's success story.

“As Deputy CEO, and in keeping with the delegated authority handed me by my CEO, I am involved in most activities of the business and I get to be in charge of our bigger picture goals. For me, restructuring MASLOC is a rewarding process, and I love seeing our growth and plans touch the target borrowers at the grassroots because of the presence we have established from Head Office in Accra through our Regional Offices to District Offices," she told the Magazine which dedicated three pages in its publication to her person, work and achievements. 

In December 2017, she received the Global Female Leadership Impact Award and inducted into the Global Women Leaders Hall of Fame (GWLHOF), 2017. She was also named among the Top 100 Most Influential Women Leaders in Emerging Economies to watch in 2018 at the 5th edition of the South America-Africa-Middle East-Asia Women Summit (SAMEAWS) 2017, organised by the UK-headquartered Centre for Economic and Leadership Development (CELD). This was held at the Shangri-La Hotel in Dubai, United Arab Emirate (UAE). Such prestigious feats are only achieved by the world's outstanding women leaders including First Ladies, Leading Government Officials and the  humble Yendi-born lady Abibata is one of them. 

About five persons have served as MPs for the Yendi Constituency since Ghana's return to multi-party democracy in 1992 and they have pushed the developmental agenda of the constituency forward considerably. It is her turn to take it to the next level and she is just as poised for it. Asked what she will do differently if she eventually gets to become MP to ensure instability, cut the joblessness, high illiteracy rate and crimes of various kinds, Hajia touted her worldwide networks whiles describing herself as a global person. "I am a global person with connections extending beyond the shores of Ghana. I will tap into my connections to drive investments to the constituency so as to transform the lives of my people," she revealed. Hajia indeed is privileged to have shared lecture halls with persons of Royal heritage from the Gulf and CEOs of multi-national conglomerates. She hopes to capitalize on her networks for investments in agriculture, women empowerment, education, health and poverty reduction.

As regards her work towards winning the elections, Hajia Abibata wants to run a clean campaign - a campaign that speaks to issues without maligning anybody. She has accordingly instructed her team not to insult or respond to any one that insults their efforts. They should only respond when it is deemed worthy.

Hajia is also appealing to delegates to examine all the aspirants of the Constituency and pick  a credible  person who has no shred of scandal or blemished record and who can deliver effective leadership and service in humility for the great people of the Yendi Constituency.

The difficulty in finding persons who remain humble despite their achievements is as difficult as finding a hard and outlawed drug in an open market. Hajia Abibata has earned the right to be celebrated as an achiever yet she remains humble, crediting others for her success. She is especially grateful to her late parents for good upbringing and for the foundation laid for her and her 13 other siblings. Hajia preserves special mention for her husband, Abu-Zaid Zakariah, to whom she has been married for well over a decade with four children. 

How is she able to manage family and marital life with work? Hajia mahama paid glowing commendation to her spouse, saying she could not have climbed up the ladder of success without the support and understanding of the man she describes as her pillar, friend and advisor.  

We asked  Hajia Abibata Shanni Mahama Zakariah to sum up who she is and why delegates should consider her for the ruling party's Parliamentary Candidature. Her response, results-driven and development-oriented; profound relationship with others, humility  and accessibility for both young and old.

The writer is Iddrisu Zakaria Baba, a Broadcast Journalist and Editor for He is on facebook as Iddrisu Z. B. Articles and his twitter handle is @articles89.

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