Mrs. Maryam Ndidi Babangida remains the toast of Nigerian women even at nearly 60 years of age, Toluwani Olamitoke reports.

THE former first lady of Nigeria, Mrs. Maryam Ndidi Babangida is one of the most glamorous and most photographed first ladies in Nigeria’s history. Full of zest, these days, she has become a recurring decimal in top-rate state and social functions within and outside Nigeria.

Mrs. Babangida has often brought smiles on the faces of many people particularly because of her sense of style and the glitter she brings to every occasion she attends.

Nigeria’s history has it that Mrs. Babangida as wife of Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, who was the nation’s president between 1985 and 1993 started the office of the first lady and went further to glamourise it.

The Number one first lady, equally turned the ceremonial post of first lady into a potent force for women’s rural development in Nigeria. She’s the founder of the Better Life Programme for Rural Women (BLP) founded in 1987. the BLP was established to enhance the status of women socially, economically and politically in the rural areas.

According to reports, the programme launched 7,635 co-operatives, 997 cottage industries, 1,751 new farms and gardens, 487 shops and markets, 419 women’s centres and 163 social welfare programmes.

Also under her leadership, Nigerian women were empowered to improve their lives through programmes on adult education, primary health, agriculture, crafts and food processing. These women not only moved towards self-sufficiency, but in some instances, they were in the vanguard of agriculture production in their districts, making significant progress by increasing food production and reducing post-harvest.

Few years back, it was alleged she was going through a trying period, and there were great concerns over her health. The gist around town was that she was afflicted by cancer .Today, she’s full of life, an indication that she has waded through.

And like those days when her husband, General Babangida held forte as Nigeria’s military president, any event worth its salt in Nigeria these days must add a taste of the gorgeous Maryam to be complete.

Maryam Babangida was born in November 1, 1948. she had a fairly humble beginning in her home town of Asaba where she received part of her early education before moving up North to Queen Amina College, Kaduna for her secondary education. She graduated as a secretary from the Federal Training Centre, Kaduna and later obtained a diploma in secretaryship from Laselle University, Chicago, USA..

Two months before her 21st birthday, precisely, September 6, 1969, Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida, then a major, took time off the war front to get hooked to her. Their marriage is blessed with four children.

Apart from a brief stop at a career in her line of training, before and shortly after marriage, Mrs. Babangida remained a full time house wife, establishing and nuturing the home front until the youngest of her children came of age.

Maryam, it is gathered is fairly a passionate lover of nature, gardening and home decorations, and these are coupled with her disarming charm and confidence.