Hajia Sodangi: A Quiet Northern Activist in Nigeria

Hajia Sodangi: A Quiet Northern Activist in Nigeria


Hajia Sodangi: A Quiet Northern Activist


A quiet, humble but committed Northern activist and Chairman, Nigerian Institute of Management (NIM), Kaduna Branch, Hajia Rabi Umar Sogandi, is unwavering in her determination to positively affect her society. BANKOLE SHAKIRUDEEN ADESHINA, who spoke to her, profiles how the soft-spoken woman has been using her developmental initiatives to drive the emancipation of impoverished northern women and children.

HAJIA Rabi Umar Sodangi as a woman, professional, and one of Nigeria’s quiet activists, is one of the greatest things to happen to the Northern region of the country.

Born into a popular Unguwar Alkali family (Judges Quarters) in Katsina State, Sodangi is one of the quiet activists to have emerged from such a privileged background.

Her father was Hon. Justice Umaru Abdulahi (Rtd), a former President of the Court of Appeal and her mother, Hadiza Abdullahi, a modest and religious house wife.

Sodangi brand of activism focuses on provision of education and human capital development for the marginalised, especially for Northern women and children.

Her refusal to be complacent was born out of her compassion for the sufferings of the average Hausa woman and child, and the emotional trauma they are constantly subjected to. For instance, the activist Hajia, is more worried about the developmental disparity between a typical Hausa man and woman.

She vowed to make a change, even if it requires partnering with relevant authorities to achieve her goal.

Like the world-renowned American freedom fighter, Martin Luther-King Jr, Sodangi believes that every human being has potentials to excel, given the opportunity. She attributed the limitation of her northern women folks to lack of support for education.

According to her, “the fundamental challenges faced by typical Hausa women are mainly lack of support for education, dependence on parents, husbands, brothers etc for means of livelihood.”

She said this trend could only be changed with adequate enlightenment programmes for the people.

To achieve the goal, she has already started a change process, through her different initiatives, vowing to explore all available resources within her capacity and anywhere else.

She is driving this crusade on four different platforms: the Nigerian Institute of Management (NIM), Kaduna Branch, where she is a fellow and the Branch Chairman; Almanar Women Association, where she serves as the Ameerah (Head); Queen Amina Old Students Association, where she is the Vice President; and Alhidaya Charity Group, where she is a member.

“And I have been and will still be doing all I can to see the situation change for the better. For instance, the Almanar Women Association where I’m the Ameerah (Head), evolved purposely to educate and empower women in the region. Under this platform, we have two training centres for marriage counselling and skill acquisition in 17 Liberia Crescent, Malali and 2B Fulani Road, Unguwar Rimi, Kaduna, all in Kaduna State. We also organise workshops and lectures on moral issues, support the sick, pay orphans’ school fees etc.”

Her little efforts to promote quality leadership among northern men and women are gradually being noticed. For instance, under her leadership, NIM, Kaduna Branch emerged the 2012 Branch of the year. The award was presented to Sodangi and other members at the organisation’s national conference in Abuja last September.

In her words: “The award was significant to me as the Chairman to be the best branch nationwide. The executives worked as a team and we got the support of our members to achieve what others could not.

“Many organisations recognised our contributions to management development and supported us. Such as Katsina State Government, Kaduna State and organisations like National Steel Raw Materials Exploration Agency, NNPC (Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation), Armed Forces and Staff Command, Jaji; Kaduna Polytechnic, NNDC and many others,” she added.

Sodangi recalled some of the activities embarked upon by her branch to entrench quality leadership in her domain: “We contribute a lot in promoting management excellence through our monthly management talk to members, every first Thursday of the month at Maharaja Hotel, Independence Way Kaduna, public lectures on 10th April every year in celebration of Management Day, annual NIM Week celebrations which include visits to corporate organisations to interact and exchange ideas, workshop, awards for management excellence, membership drives. We got 170 new members in 2012.

“We produce Kaduna Manager, a management development magazine every year. We organise fellows luncheon for fellows of NIM in Kaduna to meet and discuss how to improve management practice.”

However, as challenging as her leadership obligations appear, she did not let the task erode her ethical values.

“This is because, my parents are very gentle and caring people. They will rather advice and guide than scold, abuse or spank a child. They are also philanthropic, so I was raised to believe in and fear Allah, earn my livelihood, be just, support the needy and generally be of service to the community. And nothing can change this, no matter what.”

Interestingly, Sodangi’s grandfather, Mallam Abdu Unguwar Alkali, was also an astute lawyer and reputable judge himself. Alkali, before his death, was a registrar and thereafter, Khadi (Judge) in many places including, Faskari, Bindawa and Mashi, all in Katsina State.

Other reputable legal luminaries, who came from Sodangi’s clan are a former registrar

Of the Supreme Court, who is now in the Court of Appeal, Muntari Dodo; a former Judge in Kaduna and Katsina states, the late Usman Mohammed; a former Abuja Khadi and Grand Khadi in Katsina State, the late Aminu Ibrahim; Grand khadi Katsina, Isa Dodo and Commissioner of Justice, Katsina State, -Muntari Ibrahim.

“All these are my cousins, my uncles and the names are just too many for me to mention immediately,” Sodangi added.

Then comes the natural question, “why did Sodangi not pursue a career in law?

“Because I was cut out for something else. Three of my siblings are already lawyers, including a sister.”

From childhood, she had always dreamt of becoming a medical doctor. This aspiration was soon truncated by her traditionally mandatory early marriage.

According to her: “I wanted to be a doctor, but I was married off immediately after my secondary school because my father could not say ‘no’ to his senior cousin about the date. Immediately they heard my husband was interested in me, they fixed a date for the wedding. Because my husband was living in Kaduna, I could not go to Ahmadu Bello University or Bayero University, Kano where I got admission. I had to be with my husband, so I got admitted into Kaduna Polytechnic.”

Was she emotionally comfortable with the marriage arrangement that early?

“Initially I felt I was not ready for it, but when it happened I found my husband very caring, loving, understanding and supportive. Yes, I could not pursue a dream to become a medical doctor eventually, but then, I’m still very happy with what I am today,” she submitted.

Sodangi attended the Kaduna Polytechnic and obtained Higher National Diploma in Hotel Management, Post Graduate Diploma in Management and Masters in Business Administration from Bayero University, Kano.

Previously, Sodangi attended Rafindadi Primary School in Katsina and Queen of Apostles College (now Queen Amina College) Kakuri, Kaduna before being handed over in marriage to her distant cousin.

Sodangi started her professional career in1982 with Arewa Hotels Development Company, as an Instructor; worked as a Lecturer at the Hassan Usman Katsina Polytechnic; Assistant Chief Lecturer and Head of Home Economics Department of the Federal College of Education, Okene. Thereafter, she joined the Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited and rose to become its Chief Administration Officer and proceeded to join the National Steel Raw Materials Exploration Agency (NSRMEA) as Chief Personnel Officer. She gradually rose to her current position, as Director of Finance and Human Resources However, marrying to one’s cousin, in the African culture, is rather strange, but Sodangi stressed that it was “Islamic” and she is very comfortable with it.

“My husband is my first cousin. Then, he became my friend and gave me all the necessary love and support a husband could give a wife. He supported my education and my career. We were blessed with six children, four boys and two girls, but we lost one of the boys (Muhammad Zaki) 11 years ago. May his soul rest in peace, ameen.

“Together, we have visited many places of interest from Niagra Falls in the states to Taj Mahal in India, London Planatorium, Disney Land in Paris, Table Mountain in Cape Town, Petrona Twin Towers in Malaysia, Burj Dubai, Yankari, Mount Pati and Obudu Cattle Ranch in Nigeria.”

Besides being a caring husband, according to Sodangi, marrying one’s cousin also comes with other rare advantages.

“Besides having a supportive husband, I have always had either an aunty or a cousin living with us and helping in taking care of the children. Because we are related, my people and my husband’s people feel at home in our house. And that helped my career a lot,” she said.

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