Most people would recognise her from Chibok campaign of #Bringbackourgirls from 2014
But Aisha Yesufu has officially written her name with permanent pen in the book of history as an outright Nigerian campaigner following her Statue of Liberty-like pose that has earned her the Statue of #EndSARS name.
Dressed in a dark blue Muslim attire with legs spread in stance of protest, a bag hung across her chest and left arm raised as if punching the air – signifying empowerment to the people. The the image is set to go down in history as one of the most iconic moment in the #EndSARS campaign.
Who is Aisha Yesufu and how did her campaigning jump into the limelight?
Find out in the five facts below.
1: Aisha’s Bio
Aisha Yesufu nee Muhammad was born in 1974 as first child to her parents, and raised in Kano state with her family lineage leads to Edo State.
Edo is generally considered to be a Christian dominated state, however Aisha hails from Etsako region of Agbede in the State – a place where Islam is widespread.
She recounts her life in Kano as that strive with poverty and was determined to see her education through while her female friends were being married off when she was 11 years old.
Her family were initially worried for her marital future with her father insisting she would not continue her education beyond secondary second school, he later changed his mind.
Following secondary school, she gained admission to the Uthman Dan Fodio University in 1992 but left after a crisis. She koved onto Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria to study Medicine but also left following the murder of a professor in 1994.
She settled into Bayero University, Kano, where she completed her studies and graduated with a degree in Microbiology.
2: How she met her husband
According to Aisha Yesufu to PunchNG Newspaper: “Most of my mates were almost grandmothers when I married at 24”.
She married Aliu Osigwe Yesufu in 1996 who is also from Etsako. His middle name “Osigwe” translating to “it is God I look up to” in the Etsako language.
She first met her husband in December 1996 at her uncle’s bachelor party where she was made an usher and Mr Aliu was the chairman.
She recounts “as soon as they called the chairman and this tall, handsome man stood up, for me, it was love at first sight.
“For him, it was not love at first sight because he was in a relationship then with someone he hoped to marry but she eventually left him.”
They began dating in August 1997 and got married eight months later while she was still at Bayero University. They have two children, a son named Amir born in 1998 and a daughter, Aliyyah born in 2001.
Amir is currently studying Film at Regent’s University of London, UK where fees are approximately £18,000.
When my husband proposed, (not on bended knees). I told him I was lazy and hated house chores and also I was always sick.— Aisha Yesufu (@AishaYesufu) February 21, 2020
The sickness stopped but I still hate house chores. From our first year of marriage he got people to help me with house chores.
This year will be 22 years!
3: What business does Aisha Yesufu do?
Aisha strived for her financial independence after university whilst her husband worked as an auditor. Today she boasts not having to work a day in her life and runs her businesses from home.
In 2003, she established Aliyyah and Amir Ventures Limited in her children’s names.
The business where she remains the CEO to date deals in trading and distribution of general merchandise and raw material – mainly chicken feeds – in Norther Nigeria
4: Activism is in her blood
Aisha shot to the limelight during Chibok’s #Bringbackourgirls campaign.
In April 2014, 276 young girls between ages 16 and 18, said to be mostly Christian were kidnapped from a secondary school in the town of Chibok, Borno State, Nigeria.
Speaking to PunchNG Newspaper on her involvement with the campaign, Aisha said: “I remember that I was at the gym with a friend who told me that later that day, she was going for a protest because of the abducted Chibok girls.
I asked for the colour they were wearing and she said red. Since I did not have a red hijab, I decided to buy one that day.
I called my husband to inform him of my decision and he supported me; that was how it started. When the Chibok girls’ incident happened, I was already set to give back to my society and I saw that as an avenue.”
Prior to this, it would seem activism has always existed in her blood. She questioned her parents and people around where she felt there was injustice. She participated in her first official protest in 1992 while at Uthman Dan Fodio University.
5: The allegations that never saw light of day
As public figure, Aisha has not been exempt from allegations thrown at popular individuals.
In September 2020, @SusanHenshaw50 twitter handle accused Aisha’s husband, Aliu of stealing seven cars from the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) when he left the company.
This turned out to be a case of mistaken identity as Prof. Usman Yusuf was the boss that was alleged to have taken those cars.
In October 2020, UK based Nigerian gay activitist, Bisi Alimi accused Aisha of homophobia following a 2019 tweet where she stated that homosexuality is an open practice in Norther Nigeria where same sex marriages occur, and it should be campaigned against.
I think it is very unfair on #LGBT people in Nigeria who have been the major victim of #SARS in Nigeria to be told how to talk about #aishayesufu. Aisha is a raging homophobe that wants to eradicate LGBT people in Nigeria and it is part of her legacy. #EndSARS #EndSarsNow pic.twitter.com/mGmUKyUPlc— Lucifer (HE/HIM) (@bisialimi) October 11, 2020