By Olalekan Abdullahi
Nigeria’s First Lady, Mrs. Aisha Buhari is certainly facing an existential battle, despite being the wife of the President of the most populous black country in the world.
Her travails are not actually from her husband, President Muhammadu Buhari, but from those that surround him, who she strongly believes are trying to make life difficult for her and her children, and she appears to be helpless as her husband does not seem perturbed by what she has been complaining about right in Aso Rock, the seat of Nigeria’s government where the first family resides.
Hajia Aisha Buhari has never failed to express her views on issues concerning the running of the government and matters that have to do with her family and her husband’s administration generally.
Aisha comes across as a very strong woman and what most Nigerians appreciate about her, is the fact that she speaks her mind.
The First Lady has voiced out the truth on many occasions damning whatever consequences that may arise.
She once spoke up fiercely against the “cabal” frustrating her husband’s government. An act many people, especially first ladies, have notably shied away from.
The First Lady is noted to be active on Facebook, twitter, Instagram and other social media platforms where she objectively criticizes the policies of the government and even offers suggestions when and where necessary to the surprise of many Nigerians.
In October 2016, Aisha Buhari during an interview with BBC, openly criticized the President suggesting that she might not support his 2019 re-election bid.
Aisha Buhari also claimed that some people had hijacked Buhari’s government.
“The president does not know 45 out of 50, of the people he appointed and I don’t know them either, despite being his wife of 27 years.
“Some people are sitting down in their homes folding their arms only for them to be called to come and head an agency or a ministerial position”.
“…If things continue like this up to 2019, I will not go out and campaign again and ask any woman to vote like I did before. I will never do it again,” she said.
Mrs. Buhari also alleged that a ‘powerful caucus’ is behind the presidential appointments.
In response to APC party’s mishandling of 2019 elections party primaries, Aisha publicly said: “It is disheartening to note that some aspirants used their hard-earned money to purchase nomination forms, got screened, cleared and campaigned vigorously yet found their names omitted on election day, these forms were bought at exorbitant prices.”
The Nigeria’s first lady also accused the APC Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole of condoning impunity and threatened to dissociate herself from the party if it continued.
Flashback to July 10, 2017, when the media was awash with the outbursts of the First Lady during a visit to her husband in the United Kingdom, where he was receiving treatment for an undisclosed ailment.
Apparently frustrated Aisha had described some people around her husband as Hyenas and Jackals and wrote a piece entitled; “Hyenas, jackals will soon be sent out of my husband’s kingdom.” This was in response to Senator Shehu Sani’s (representing Kaduna Central District) post which read: “Prayer for the absent Lion King has waned; until he’s back then they will fall over each other to be on the front row of the palace temple. Now the hyenas and the jackals are scheming and talking to each other in whispered; still doubting whether the Lion King will be back or not…”
There, Aisha Buhari gave an insight into the power play at the Nigerian seat of power in the wake of a sickness that had kept her husband out of the country for two months then.
Responding to Mr. Sani’s comment also proverbially, Mrs. Buhari said: “God has answered the prayers of the weaker Animals. The Hyenas and the jackals will soon be sent out of the kingdom. We strongly believe in the prayers and support of the weaker animals”.
Mrs. Aisha’s comment attracted many comments from her followers on Facebook, wishing her husband quick recovery.
Upon her return to Nigeria back then, the President’s wife had said he was recovering well and that he expressed appreciation to Nigerians praying for him.
However, the First Lady kept making statements about issues that has to do with governance and she was able to endear herself to the hearts of numerous Nigerians, who felt she has been doing her best to protect the nation’s nascent democracy. She was dubbed the amazon of African democracy because her voice has been the loudest from any woman in the continent of Africa, fighting vigorously for the sustenance of democracy and preservation of the office of the president.
On Wednesday, 11, December, 2019, Mrs. Aisha Buhari came out in another form to tackle her husband’s spokesperson, the Senior Special Assistant, Media and Publicity to President Muhammadu Buhari, Mr. Garba Shehu on issues affecting the country and how she is being undermined and doubted Shehu’s loyalty to the president. Trust the amazon, she poured her heart out through a piece she posted on her verified Instagram page and other platforms.
The piece is entitled; “Garba Shehu Has Gone Beyond His Boundaries.’
In the piece, the First Lady made it clear that Nigeria’s development is hinged on the ability of public officials to execute their mandates professionally, and to be shining examples in their various areas of endeavor.
“As spokesperson of the President, he has the onerous responsibility of managing the image of the President and all the good works that he is executing in the country.
“Rather than face this responsibility squarely, he has shifted his loyalty from the President to others who have no stake in the compact that the President signed with Nigerians on May 29, 2015 and 2019.
“To make matters worse, Mr. Shehu has presented himself to these people as a willing tool and executioner of their antics, from the corridors of power even to the level of interfering with the family affairs of the President. This should not be so.
“The blatant meddling in the affairs of a First Lady of a country is a continuation of the prodigal actions of those that he serves.
“We all remember that the chief proponent appropriated to himself and his family a part of the Presidential Villa, where he stayed for almost 4 years and when the time came for him to leave, he orchestrated and invaded my family’s privacy through a video circulated by Mamman’s Daughter, Fatima, the public was given the impression that on arrival into the country I was locked out of the villa by Mr. President,” the First Lady said.
The First Lady added that Garba Shehu, as Villa Spokesperson, knew the truth and had the responsibility to set the records straight, but that “because his allegiance is somewhere else and his loyalty misplaced, he deliberately refused to clear the air and speak for the President who appointed him in the first place.
Aisha Buhari stressed that Mr. Shehu was privy and part of the plan and it’s execution and that he was shocked when he realized that she had publicized her return to Nigeria on October 12, 2019 and cleared the air on the many rumors that took over social media, a job she said he was supposed to do but kept mute to cause more confusion and instability for his Principal and his family.
“Garba then, vented his anger on the National Television Authority (NTA) Management insisting that the media crew to my office must be sacked.
“He succeeded in getting them suspended for doing their job. I had to intervene to save the innocent staff from losing their means of livelihood by involving the Department of State Services (DSS) in order to ascertain roles played by key actors in the saga.
“It is at this late hour that I recall, sadly, that it was the same Garba Shehu who claimed that the government will not allow office of the First Lady to run.
“He was later to confirm to one of my aides that he was instructed to say so by Mamman Daura and not the President.
“This antic attracted the anger of Nigerian women. He didn’t realize the fact that First Lady’s office is a tradition which has become an institution.
“Today, even without a budget, I am able to run my humanitarian programmes.
In saner climes, Garba Shehu would have resigned immediately after going beyond his boundaries and powers,” she said.
Aisha added that the “latest of his antics was to wage a war on the first family through an orchestrated media campaign of calumny by sponsoring pseudo accounts to write and defame my children and myself.”
Several Nigerians however, wondered why the First Lady makes this kind of outburst, when her husband is not around, and if President Muhammadu Buhari would support his wife or Garba Shehu, when he returns to the country from Egypt on Friday, 13th December, 2019 or keep mute on the matter as he has done in the past.
With these, millions of Nigerians have applauded Aisha Buhari as a defender of democracy, who is never afraid to lend her voice to issues despite being the wife of the President.
The First Lady is seen as a rare breed and Africa’s First Lady with the loudest voice, when the need arises despite the fact that she comes from the northern part of the country, where women are not expected to speak loudly.
Aisha might be hated by those in power that are immensely benefiting from the system, but she is loved by women and the masses and they see her as the icon of democracy and hope that all is not lost after all despite the travails of the country under the present government.
Aisha is seen as a very dependable woman that has been with her husband all through the period he had been contesting elections right from 2003 until he eventually succeeded in 2015. She stood by the husband through thick and thin, keeping the family and raising beautiful children since she married Buhari 30 years ago.
The thinking of many in Nigeria and beyond is that the likes of Garba Shehu and Mamman Daura should let the first lady live in peace with her family and reap the fruits of her years of labour. But many believe despite the travails she has been going through, Hajia Aisha Buhari will hold her ground, and continue to fight for good governance and protection of democratic ethos in Nigeria. She is indeed an iconic amazon worthy of emulation by other wives of African leaders