Salamatu Hussaini Suleiman: Passionate About Education and Empowerment
Barrister Salamatu Hussaini Suleiman was born on October 27, 1960, in the famous fishing town of Argungu now in Kebbi State. Her father, late Alkali Hussaini Gwandu was an Islamic scholar and jurist from the legendary family of Alhaji Saadu, a scholar who taught as far as Egypt in the twentieth century. Her Mother Hajiya Safiyatu Hussaini is a princess from the Royal Family of Gwandu Emirate and holds the prestigious title of Gimbiyar Gwandu.
Mrs. Salamatu Hussaini Suleiman, by dint of sheer hard work, tenacity, resilience and perhaps, providence, rose to become a Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and also a Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security at the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission (the first woman to hold such a position).
Barrister Salamatu had her primary education at Makerar Gandu Primary School, Birnin-Kebbi. In 1973, she sat for the National Common Entrance examination and passed with flying colors and thus gained entry into the prestigious Queens’s College, Lagos. She passed out with Division 1 in the West African School Certificate Examination in 1977. She proceeded to the School of Basic Studies of the Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, where she obtained her ‘A’ Levels (the Interim Joint Matriculation Board Examination Certificate).
In 1978, following in the footsteps of her father, she chose to study law and enrolled at the Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, Kongo Campus. She was actively involved in Student Unionism and was elected Vice President of the Student’s Union Government in 1979. She also excelled academically and came top of the class in the Annual Moot Court Competition, Faculty of Law Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria in 1981 before she graduated with the LLB (Hons) degree. Between 1981 and 1982, she was enrolled in the Nigerian Law School where she also excelled and was called to the Nigerian bar. Between 1982 and 1983, she served her National Youth Service Corps with the Sokoto State Ministry of Justice and continued her professional career there as a State Counsel. Her quest for scholarship saw her proceed to the London School of Economics and Political Science, where she bagged the LLM with Distinction in Multinational Enterprise and the Law in 1987.
In 1989, she veered into the corporate sector and joined the Continental Merchant Bank, where she worked in various capacities, rising to the position of Company Secretary. She moved to NAL Merchant Bank from 1996 to 1997, and then to Aluminium Smelter Company of Nigeria (ALSCON) as Legal Adviser/Company Secretary, a position she held until 2001 when she left to take up another appointment as Secretary/Director of Legal Services of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
Her exemplary commitment, honesty, and an outstanding sense of patriotism as a technocrat brought her to the attention of President Umaru Musa Yar’adua who appointed her the Honorable Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, in December 2008. In 2010, she was reappointed Honorable Minister of State for Foreign Affairs by HE President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, a position she held until May 2011. In 2012, she was appointed Commissioner, Political Affairs, Peace and Security, ECOWAS Commission, a position she held for a term of four years up to April 2016.
Since she left the ECOWAS, Barrister Salamatu has been running her Legal firm, Hussaini Suleiman & Co, and also serves as an Independent non-executive Director on the Boards of Stanbic IBTC Holdings Plc, Flour Mills of Nigeria Plc, West African Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP), and a few other business interests. One of her greatest passions however is poverty eradication through the empowerment of women and youth and the promotion of education for all. This is done through a Charity organization, Alkali Hussaini Foundation, which she founded in 2007.
Dr. Salamatu Hussaini Suleiman received an Honourary Doctorate Degree from the University of Abuja in 2019, is a fellow of Waziri Umaru Federal Polytechnic, Birnin-Kebbi, and a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Mediators and Conciliators (ICMC). In 2018, she bagged the prestigious ABU Alumni Career Service Award. In recognition of her efforts to promote political stability and peace in the ECOWAS region, she was bestowed with the West African Peace Building Fellowship in Accra, Ghana by the West African Network for peacebuilding (a regional NGO that works with stakeholders to promote peace in the ECOWAS and the AU Countries).
She had attended various development programmes at home and abroad, including at the prestigious Harvard Kennedy School of Governance and the Harvard Business School. She has visited many countries around the world and received a letter of commendation for exemplary service from the Federal Government of Nigeria, the ECOWAS Commission, and other establishments where she has served.
She is a Family person, a doting grandmother, and enjoys reading, traveling, and humanitarian activities.
Some of her key achievements are as follows:
- As ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs Peace and Security
- Coordinated the deployment of the ECOWAS Standby Force (ESF) on two military missions in the sub-region to restore peace and security following the breakdown of law and order, and attempted coup d’etat:
a. The ECOWAS Mission in Guinea Bissau (ECOMIB) April 2012
b. The African Led International Support Mission to Mali (AFISMA) January 2013.
- Implementation of an effective ECOWAS Integrated Maritime Strategy, leading to the setting up of 3 Maritime Zones, a Regional Centre and an Interregional Coordination Centre in collaboration with the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS);
- Implementation of a Defence and Security Sector Reform (DSSR) programme in Guinea Bissau;
- Resource mobilization for ECOWAS– including military equipment from the USA, Germany, and China to enhance the operational capacity of the ESF;
- Consolidating democracy in the region through assistance to the ECOWAS Member States leading to successful elections in Senegal, Ghana, Mali, Guinea Bissau, Nigeria, Togo, Guinea, Cote d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Benin, and Niger;
- Establishment of the National Early Warning and Response Mechanism to enhance ECOWAS Member States capabilities to engage in the prevention and management of national low-intensity conflicts;
- As Minister of State Foreign Affairs:
- Boosted Nigeria’s foreign policy through various interventions at the United Nations General Assembly, particularly in the areas of women and child rights, and security sector reform.
- Promoted enhancement of Border Security through active engagement of neighboring countries and border communities.
- Effective campaign to create awareness against the proliferation of small arms and light weapons.
- Assisted in the completion and movement of the Nigerian Foreign Affairs Ministry to its current state of the art edifice, thereby enhancing the image of the country.
- As Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development:
Effective advocacy for the advancement of the rights of women, children, and the less privileged in society.
- Facilitation of the Federal Government of Nigeria policy on the establishment of gender desks in all Ministries, Departments, and Agencies to ensure gender mainstreaming in all government plans and projects.
- Establishment of skill acquisition centers for the empowerment of women throughout the country.
- Promotion of the participation of women in politics leading to a larger representation of women in elective and appointed positions.
- As Secretary to the Commission and Director of Legal Services Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC):
Duties included legal advisory services, Secretary to the Board and Board Committees, review and actualization of various documents including Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) between the Commission and regulators in other jurisdictions/International Organisations. Also served in various internal and external committees for the development of the Nigerian Capital Market and the Nigerian economy in general, including:
- SEC Rules and Regulations Committee (Chairperson)
- Committee on the Introduction of Islamic Capital Market (Member)
- E-Dividend Implementation Committee (Chairperson)
- Technical Committee for the review of the Investments and Securities Act (Head of Secretariat)
- Presidential Inter-Agency Committee for the removal of Nigeria from FATF list of Non-Cooperative Countries and Territories (Member)
- Financial Sector Strategy (FSS2020) Served as a member of the Regulation Sub-Committee and participated in all the Retreats including a Study Tour of Dubai (UAE) in November 2008.
- As Secretary/Legal Adviser Aluminium Smelter Company of Nigeria (ALSCON):
1997 – 2001
- Served as key personnel in a joint Venture of over $2 billion between Nigeria, Germany, and the USA.
- Effectively managed legal issues arising between ALSCON and the host communities.
- NAL and Continental Merchant banks:
Participated in various public issues, private placement
of securities, debt conversion as well as privatization issues.
- As State Counsel Ministry of Justice Sokoto:
Rose from State Counsel to Principal State Counsel, performing duties including public prosecution, civil litigation, legal drafting, and legal advice to various arms of government.
- Community based services:
Under Alkali Hussaini Foundation, facilitated the following:
- Establishment of a State of the art Skill Acquisition Centre in Birnin Kebbi where skills such as Adult Literacy, Islamic Education, remedial classes (for girls ), computer Training, Tailoring, kitting, Hairdressing, cosmetics and detergent making are being taught. Thousands of women and girls have benefitted.
- Enrolment of orphans in various Primary/Secondary Schools in Birnin Kebbi.
- Upgrading of a Primary school at Madadi Village in Gwandu Local Government Area of Kebbi State (in collaboration with Kebbi State Government).
- Construction of two blocks of 4-bedroom staff quarters to provide accommodation for teachers in Madali Village.
- Provision of empowerment materials for all categories of persons, including computers, irrigation pumps, grinding machines, welding equipment, sewing and knitting machines etc
- Community awareness campaign against major childhood illnesses in collaboration with PACT International of the USA under its Icare project.
- Establishment of two skills Acquisition Centers in Gwandu and Argungu in collaboration with T.Y Danjuma Foundation, where skills such as knitting, sewing, and computer literacy are being taught.
- Provision of potable drinking water through Boreholes constructed with the assistance of the Nigerian Turkish International Colleges (NTIC) Foundation.
- Remedial classes for girls and boys who didn’t make required credits in their WASCE attempt to prepare them to retake new papers and go into tertiary institutions and pursue various courses
10.Support to indigent students with school fees, necessary resources to facilitate their education
For its high performance and impact on society, the Foundation has enjoyed strategic collaboration and partnership with various organizations including:
- Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development
- Federal Ministry of Agriculture
- Bill and Melinda Gate Foundation, (through PACT Nig.)
- T.Y Danjuma Foundation
- Kebbi State Government
- Nigeria Turkish International Colleges (NTIC) Foundation
Dr. Suleiman is consistently involved in community development programs in Kebbi State,in addition to the work undertaken under the Foundation. She currently serves as a Grand Patron of Salamatu Hussaini Government Girls Secondary School, one of the major girls’ educational institutions in Birnin Kebbi, named after her by the State Government, where she has provided support in critical furniture, learning equipment, and mentoring of the students periodically. She has extended support in the renovation of schools and provision of learning materials, to schools and engages regularly in active advocacy with all stakeholders to improve quality of education, empower women and the less privileged, and generally contribute to poverty alleviation and national development.