Idris Abubakar was one of the many young soldiers who died in the conflict between the Nigerian Army and the Boko Haram terrorists in Nigeria’s Borno State. His death, which happened months after he joined the country’s military force, struck his wife, Hauwa Muhammad, deeply.
“It was just two years after our marriage. He died and left me with a child who I believe will grow up to know him only in pictures,” Muhammad recounted.
After her husband’s demise, Muhammad struggled to fend for her only child. She got married again and gave birth to two more children.
Muhammad, who lives in the Karofi area of Jalingo, the capital city of Taraba State, developed an unconditional love for her first child, Sadiq. In 2023, with savings she had accrued from her petty business, she enrolled him into school.
“Let me be honest with you, all my hustle is to see that my children get educated,” she said.
Every 15th of January is observed as Armed Forces Remembrance Day, dedicated to honouring the Nigerian Armed Forces servicemen and paying tribute to veterans of the Nigerian civil war, including World War I and II. In 2024, the name was modified to “Armed Forces Celebration and Remembrance Day” as a way to acknowledge the ongoing service of Armed Forces members while commemorating the fallen heroes.
In her home in Jalingo, Muhammad commemorates the day by showing Sadiq pictures of his late father. On this year’s commemoration day, Muhammad was preparing lunch in her home in Jalingo when she heard a knock on the gate. When she opened the gate, she was greeted by young men in military garb. A sense of dread filled her.
“I couldn’t recognise their faces. When they requested to come into the house, I opened the gate and let them in. They greeted me and said that someone from my relatives directed them to my house,” the 27-year-old shared.
One of the soldiers informed Muhammad that he was a friend of her late husband, who died on the battlefield. After a brief exchange, the soldier gifted Muhammed N15,000 naira cash as more for her child’s school fees. Muhammad could hardly believe her eyes. She was profuse with thanks.
“I extended my gratitude to them while they took their leave, and I kept reflecting on their visit. All these years, we didn’t receive anything of this nature. This one came unexpectedly. I pray that God will reward them,” she expressed.