Aisha Yesufu is a Nigerian businesswoman and, most significantly, an activist from Edo state. She gained media attention in 2014 following the abduction of over 200 Chibok secondary school girls and became more popular in 2020 during the EndSars protest in Nigeria.
Actually, Aisha started this brave act of standing against injustice right from her childhood days. Considering that it is uncommon for women to speak out, especially those born and raised in the northern part of Nigeria, Aisha has quite earned herself basketful of enemies and maybe friends due to her stance of bravery against the authorities and government of the country.
But then, she pays no attention to whether he gathers enemies for herself or not but is hell-bent on speaking up against any form of injustice. She revealed that her full venture into activism was one of the ways she intends to give back to society.
Aisha Yesufu is From Etsako Tribe in Edo State
Because she usually puts on hijab, most people tend to believe that she is a northerner. Born on 12th December 1973, Aisha is a native of Edo state but grew up alongside her siblings in Kano state. She is the firstborn out of five children. According to her, she was born into a financially stable family until 1984, when her father lost everything he had during the Buhari military regime. His father was an HND holder and was doing very well in his business before he met with the misfortune.
As a result, life became tough for her family, and they struggled to make ends meet. Nevertheless, she knew from childhood that she has a lot of exploration to make and kept working hard for herself. Besides that, Aisha likened where she grew up to a ghetto with many street children and drug abusers, but she never allowed that to influence her. She also said that by the time she was 11 years old, most of her female friends were already married, and none was even talking about further education.
She Attended Three Universities
Despite growing up in a patriarchal environment where a woman’s education is highly disregarded and termed unimportant, Aisha strived to attain the height she is today. She grew a passion for reading right from childhood and was determined to get to a university level. After completing her primary and secondary education in Kano state, she applied to study in the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) but was rejected because she was a woman.
So, she later applied and got admitted to Uthman Dan Fodio University in 1992. Not long after, the school was involved in a crisis and was shut down. She proceeded to Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, where she gained admission to study Medicine. Yet again, the university was closed following the students’ engagement in a murder case, wherein one of the professors was killed. Undeterred, Aisha moved on to Bayero University, Kano, where she eventually graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Microbiology in 1999.
Aisha is an Established Businesswoman and Activist
Immediately after she graduated from the university, she ventured into business in 2000. According to her, she has not worked for anybody all her life and never intends to do that. Aisha Yesufu is the founder of Oceangate Distribution Service- a company that deals in the importation of Alim tomatoes. Also, she is the CEO of a private company, Aliyyah and Amir Ventures Limited. She founded the business in August 2012, and it is largely into the trading and distribution of general goods and raw materials in the country.
Asides from her businesses, she has gone out of her way to stand boldly and fearlessly against any group oppressing the country’s citizens. Her ability to speak out can also be linked to her position as the firstborn in her family and having witnessed her father losing everything he had.
In April 2014, the terrorist group Boko Haram abducted 276 girls from the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok in Borno State, Nigeria. In a bid to create awareness and push for their rescue, Aisha, alongside Oby Ezekwesili, founded the #BringBackOurGirls movement. She was one of the protestors who marched to the Nigerian National Assembly in Abuja on 30th April 2014. The protests attracted the attention of the former US first ladies Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton, who had the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls tweeted over 2 million times and disseminated by the national and international press.
It further incorporates a call for the rights of female children to formal education. The attention the movement brought about made a difference. Over time, while continuing to put pressure to bring back our girls, the campaign has transitioned into the convergence point of our shared humanity and empathy for the voiceless victims of preconception and violence. Aisha has since then remained on the media front for her outstanding role in speaking up against any wrong in society.
The EndSars Protest
Since the #BringBackOurGirls, Nigerians have exhibited boldness to speak up against the government and authorities. They go on protests and have been vocal about their injustice. This was evident in the protest against bad governance and police brutality in Nigeria, which actually started in 2017 but grew out of proportion in 2020. The hashtag #EndSars is drawn from a controversial unit in the Nigerian Police Force known as Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
In October 2020, Aisha Yesufu courageously led the EndSars protest, which brings awareness to police brutality in Nigeria. She categorically said before the police personnel that she is no longer afraid of death. A photo of her wearing hijab has since then remained one of the iconic symbols of the movement. The truth is, her bravery and daring attitude encouraged and influenced more Nigerians, especially the youths, to start standing and speaking up against the many ills and wrongs that are prevalent in the country.
Aisha Yesufu is Married and Has Two Children
Aisha got married at the age of 24, which is considered late by conservatives in the northern part of Nigeria. According to her, she met her husband, Aliu Osigwe Yesufu, in her university days, precisely on 13th December 1996, at her uncle’s bachelor’s party. She said that she fell head over heels in love with Aliu when she set her eyes on him. Hence, she approached him first, and after 16 months, they walked down the aisle. Apparently, Aisha Yesufu’s bravery did not start today! Their marriage produced two children; a boy and a girl.