was one of the two recipients of the Pride Nigeria Jewel of Inestimable Value Award at the recently concluded Pride Nigeria Women Conference 2017. The other recipient was Dr. Ameyo Stella Adadevoh.
The Jewel of Inestimable Value is awarded by the Pride Nigeria Awards Committee to any person living or dead who has contributed in no small measure to the betterment of the the human race.
The late Dr. Mrs. Maryam Babangida was born on November 1, 1948 in Asaba, Delta State. She attended Queen Amina College, Kaduna between 1961 and 1964, Federal Training Centre Kaduna from 1965 to 1966, and La Salle University Illinois-Chicago, USA from 1974 to 1975. She also attended the NCR Computer Science Institute in Lagos in 1986. She married General Ibrahim Babangida in 1969, and had four children (two sons and two daughters). Her hobbies were gardening, interior decoration, music, squash, badminton, collecting birds and reading. She wrote a book, The home front: Nigerian army officers and their wives, published by Fountain Publications in 1988. In 2001, she founded El-Amin International School, Minna.
Dr. Mrs. Maryam Babangida also had a passion for charitable and philanthropic causes. She was President of Nigerian Army Officers Wives Association (NAOWA), 1984-1985 which she used as a platform for worthy endeavours, including launching clinics, women’s training centres and child day-care centres. She added a lot of glamour as First Lady of Nigeria when her husband Gen. Ibrahim Babangida was military President of Nigeria between 1985 and 1993. Her visibility and vibrancy helped redefine what it means to be the First Lady, holding it out as a powerful platform to drive socio-cultural and political change.
Dr. Mrs. Babangida is remembered for her Better Life Program for Rural Women (BLP), launched in 1987. The programme aimed at achieving gender equity with a special focus on rural women. It may be said that the BLP’s focus on women empowerment led to Nigeria signing as a party to several international conventions on women’s rights. It is also believed that the efforts of BLF contributed to the adoption of a draft national policy on women and the establishment of a National Commission for Women which eventually became the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs. This trailblazing endeavour brought local and international attention to the plight of women in Nigeria, and Africa in general. Dr. Mrs. Babangida relaunched BLP in 2004 on a continental level as the Better Life Program for African Women, which included other African first ladies as members.
Maryam Babangida won several awards during her lifetime for her charitable work, including the Harlem Women’s Committee/New Future Foundation Incorporated award and the International Recognition Award at New York in 1988.
She fought the debilitating disease that eventually led to her demise with rare courage, anchored by a strong faith, inner strength and leadership qualities displayed throughout her life.
- A woman of style and poise whose outstanding personality defined her epoch.
- A woman who lived a purposeful life, touching many lives along the way.
- A woman who lived a good life and left indelible footprints on the sands of time.
The Pride Nigeria Awards Committee posthumously bestowed on Dr. Mrs. Maryam Babangida the Jewel of Inestimable Value Award for her contributions to the welfare of her family, her nation and humanity.