...To catch Yar’Adua, just give him salad, says ex-wife
By CHRISTY ANYANWU
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
• Hajiya Hauwa Umar Radda and her sons, Ibrahim (middle) and Musa
Hajiya Hauwa Umar Radda is ex-wife of President Umar Yar’Adua and mother of his two sons. She spoke recently to Sunday Trust, and the interview is reproduced below.
You were once married to the current President, and right now taking charge of his two male children. Can you tell us how you met?
(Laughter) Well, our meeting was a coincidence and it occurred around 1992, shortly after the primary elections that saw him emerge as the gubernatorial candidate of the Social Democratic Party, SDP, then. I was in his house to congratulate him as one of the politicians who campaigned for him even though we had never met face to face by then. He developed interest in me and asked whether he could see me more. I agreed and told him he was free to. That was how we met, and as God had ordained that we would be married. We got married before the elections that he lost to the NRC then.
How then was your relationship after the marriage, I mean how would you describe living with him as a husband?
Well, as I told you, it was a marriage contracted on love–you can say love at first sight–so there was mutual understanding and care and we had a peaceful married life as we were both matured people: he was 42 years old then and I was 27.
How would you describe him as a husband and a father?
You see, the President is such a simple person who takes life as easy as one can think of. He is someone I knew with a kind heart and concern for his family. One thing everyone who knows him will tell you is his love for his children and care for the family in general.
I was telling you about his simplicity; as a wife I knew then by his choice of food what kind of person he was and what lifestyle he always chose. He was someone I knew who did not give much attention to material things or fashionable items; he always chose simplicity in whatever he did. It was a good experience that was destined to end.
Which kind of food did he prefer to eat when you were together?
If you wish to catch him red handed, prepare salad for him; other favourites of his are danwake and koko da kosai: those types of food he preferred and he still prefers them, I believe.
Nigerians will want to know how you lived with the senior wife, I mean Hajiya Turai Yar’Adua.
Well, we stayed in the same compound but different sections in Katsina when I first married him. And later, after I gave birth to Ibrahim, on the 24th of May 1993 I relocated to Kaduna where I continued to reside in his house here.
Later, Turai also relocated to Kaduna, but we never lived in the same house since then; she was staying at her own house and I was in mine, that was how we stayed together, and I later gave birth to Musa (Abba) in 1994.
Despite the love, care, and peaceful life you enjoyed together, what led to your separation?
Well, we are all Muslims and we all know that marriage, like divorce, is destiny, just like our meeting and marriage was from destiny; we also lived and divorced because it was also destined that way.
And that does not mean we fought or divorced as a result of any serious disagreement, but rather it was destined that the end of our relationship had come.
There have been rumours that you are planning to re-unite, what is the truth of the matter?
(Laughter) The issue of re-union has always been there since the day we separated; and up till now, people keep calling to find out whether it is true that we are re-uniting, but marriage as I said earlier is destiny, no one can say what will happen next. If it is destined that we will re-unite fine, and if it will never be, fine; no one can change what God has destined.
You cannot prevent people from expressing their minds. There were many times when people would swear before me that we have re-united, even when I told them it is not so.
Could it be that he still visits you?
All I can say is that his children always visit him while he was in Katsina and when he became the President. But we still relate: even after the elections I was in Aso Rock to congratulate him for winning the elections; and during his swearing-in, we were all there to support him.
You have two of the President’s sons, do you live with them or have they returned to their father?
They have never stayed with their father since we divorced; they are always with me. And, as I said, they spend some of their holidays with him and their brothers and sisters in the Government House.
Should you be asked to return now, what would be your reaction?
(Laughter) Well, this decision belongs to Allah and anything can happen. As you know, the Prophet said in one of his ahadith that even if the whole world will come together to harm an individual, they will not be able to do so unless it is permitted by God, and so also if they will come together to help him on an issue, they will not be able to do so unless He wills.
So if it is destined that we still have time to spend as a married couple, we will, even if someone abhors that; and no matter how someone wants to see us re-uniting, if it is destined that we will not be re-married, it will continue to be so.
You are one of the few people that know the President closely, how would you rate his ability to take this country to greatness?
Well, I have said that shortly after the elections when I thanked Nigerians for giving him the chance to lead the country: from what he has done in Katsina, you can see that he is someone who can take this country to even greater heights.
So far, I’m sure his interventions in many facets of our national lives indicate that he can be trusted to lead this country to the Promised Land.
Could you tell us how your children felt when their father was announced as the president?
We were all happy. The children were also happy and that was why we even decided to travel to Abuja to participate in arrangements for his swearing-in.
Initially, before the swearing-in, we faced a lot of problems because the children would always call to tell me that their classmates told them that their father undergoes blood transfusion every month and that people said he died or he was flown abroad for medical check up. In fact I had to go to the school to tell the principal to stop them from reading newspapers or watching television, because they were becoming afraid that something might happen to him.
Are you not facing pressure from the children to re-unite with their father?
That has always been their wish. But I always tell them that life is lived according to destiny and no one can influence what will happen to them. That is why, whenever they go to visit their father in Abuja, they always refuse to stay long; they would say that until I agree to return to their father’s house, they will not go there to stay or even stay long during vacations.
• Culled from Sunday Trust