Ramatu Tijjani: Leadership with Compassion in FCT, by Aderonke Ogunleye-Bello

NEWS DIGEST – “Hello Ronke, good morning, are you aware of what happened at the Maitama Market in Kubwa yesternight, read your WhatsApp messages please,” call from a friend woke me at 6am on Saturday, November 6, 2021.

Opening WhatsApp, I saw gory images of human bodies burnt beyond recognition, videos of people running helter skelter, and cries of victims. So heartbreaking!

About an hour later, I received a WhatsApp message from the Honorable Minister of State, FCT, Dr Ramatu Tijjani Aliyu, asking me to make my way to the scene of the incident. Immediately, I joined my colleagues.


The Minister, on getting to the market commenced immediate assessment of the ruins, she engaged and condoled family members of victims and some eye witnesses, On the spot, she gave an order for development control to re-organize the market, remove illegal structures and kerosene tanks placed beside electricity transformer.She asks them to stop the sale of adulterated kerosene that had led to the tanker explosion. She left the scene and made her way to the hospital where survivors were admitted.

The compassionate Dr Tijjani Aliyu visited burn victims, and on getting to the hospital, unpleasant smell of fresh wounds rented the air. She went round the ward to check on fire victims which includes a baby. I watched her wipe in pain for the baby.

After seeing the victims, she proceeded to the mortuary where remains of dead victims were kept, we met people with sad faces, some were crying, while some rolled on the floor.

Unfortunately, Kubwa hospital do not have a burn unit. She became worried, I overheard her mutter some words like, we must do our best to support these people. We left in search of a suitable hospital for the victims.


On arriving FMC Jabi, she went straight to the emergency unit where we met a nonchalant doctor on duty. “I am the minister of state, FCT, could you please show us your burn unit, we have some victims that we want to move to your hospital, your help will go a long way please,” the doctor looked at the minister slowly from head to toe, kept mute without uttering a word, reluctantly, she picked her phone and excused herself to make a call. Another doctor on duty saved the day by apologising on her behalf and made it known that FMC do not have a burn unit. In a hurry, the Minister left.


On getting to the National hospital, we were received by friendly nurses and doctors on duty, willing to help, and immediately, she introduced herself and the situation, they started coordinating one another, and created bed spaces for the victims.

Calls were made and ambulances, one after the other, brought in victims from Kubwa.

Some victims were immediately wheeled to the theatre, while she received each victim and accompanied them to the prepared bedspace with assurance that all shall be well. Despite her ill health, she went all out for FCT citizens.

After the admittance of everyone, the minister left National hospital in the night. She seems so sad but fulfilled to know that victims are in safe hands. All her efforts were not in vain. We all left, sad, tired, hungry and worn out. Pheeew, what a day!


I received an sms at midday, “HMS said you should proceed to the National Hospital now” by the time I got there, the minister was already on ground to check on victims. She went round, bed by bed, engaging the patients and their caregivers. Sadly, two of them had died on Sunday morning.

Before leaving the hospital, she reiterated to Nigerians to stop selling adulterated kerosene. For proper follow up, the Minister has commissioned people to visit the hospital for daily report of the recovery process.

This is leadership with compassion. I witnessed it live and direct. I hope our leaders could emulate Dr Tijjani Aliyu.

For her, it was never about photo ops, but result, tender care and compassion. Hoping the patients recover fully soon. May the departed souls Rest in Peace!

Aderonke Ogunleye-Bello is an award-winning Nigerian Journalist and Gender Advocate, currently serving as Special Assistant on New Media to the FCT Minister of State, Dr Ramatu Tijjani Aliyu. She writes from Abuja.