‘Meddling into other people’s affairs can be a very exhausting job.”
The wife of President Muhammadu Buhari, Hajia Aisha Buhari, is in the news again for the same old reason. Her relentless war against the antics of the ‘cabal’ in the corridors of power hugged the headlines of most national dailies this past week. This time around, she is coming with a combative force to deal with the menace once and for all. Unlike in her past tirades where she merely alerted the nation that the lever of power had been hijacked from her husband, claiming that 50 per cent of the people recruited into his government were unknown to him, the First Lady in her latest treatise went a step further to name those who were allegedly using their privileged positions to promote their personal agenda.
In a release personally signed by her, Mrs Buhari specifically accused the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, of taking order from Buhari’s cousin, Mamman Daura and demanded his immediate resignation for his divided loyalty.
The raging drama is the anti-climax of the power intrigue dating back to the early take-off of the Buhari administration, which subsequently became manifest in the wake of his ill-health and prolonged medical treatment in the United Kingdom. From the tone of the letter, Garba lost Aisha’s confidence the day he allegedly announced that there would not be office of First Lady without the clearance of Mr President, a development she lamented embarrassed her husband and family.
The statement reads in part: “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 contract 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.
“Based on Garba Shehu’s misguided sense of loyalty and inability to stay true and loyal to one person or group, it has become apparent that all trust has broken down between him and my family due to the many embarrassments he has caused the Presidency and the first family.”
Aisha is enjoying all the attentions she deserves with the image she has carved for herself as a vocal, irreverent and independent-minded person. Many of her fans will not cease from commending her courage to speak up when her husband appeared to have lost control of the affairs of the nation. Up till today, her declaration on BBC Hausa Service that the administration had been hijacked by the people unknown to the family woke up a lot of distrust APC members from their slumber. Her shocking revelation: “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.
“The President does not know 45 out of 50, for example, of the people he appointed and I don’t know them either, despite being his wife of 27 years.” She, however, refused to name those who had “hijacked the government,” saying: “You will know them if you watch television.”
Buhari’s subsequent terse response to the outburst said: “she belongs to my kitchen and my living room and the other room, later became a butt of derisive jokes among the populace.
While on a state visit to Germany, the Associated Press reported that he (Buhari) laughed it off and said: “I don’t know which party my wife belongs to, but she belongs to my kitchen and my living room and the other room.”
Some analysts have described Aisha’s periodic tirades as a spousal referendum and a rebellious act, suggesting that there are some unresolved issues.
In the opinion of critics in her part of the world, Aisha’s action transcends Hausa norms and values by dressing down her husband in the public, while her fans in the South see her as a vocal First Lady and a voice for women’s rights.
Regardless, there is a widely held belief that a communication gap exists between her and the president. Insinuation to this effect became manifest in the early 2016 when President Buhari included Aisha’s confidant, Pauline Tallen, among the 46 ambassadorial nominees submitted to the Senate, but turned down the gesture on the ground of family health as well as pretext of allowing other Plateau indigenes an opportunity to get federal appointments. Although President Buhari was said to have allegedly nominated Tallen to appease Aisha, the result turned out sour, suggesting that there was no prior consultation.
Some cabals within the corridors of power must have capitalized on the yawning gap between Aisha and her husband to play some of the antics that have been awash in the social media in the recent times. The latest of these was the rumoured plan by the President to marry a second wife. Intriguingly, the swirling rumour had Sadia Farouq, the incumbent Minister for Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management, as the new bride. On top of it all, a video of an altercation between the First Lady and a daughter of Daura also went viral on the social media. This, Aisha said, had been linked to the antics of Garba and his collaborators.
Although the first phase of the prolonged battle might have been won with the forceful eviction of Daura family from the Villa, Aisha obviously has more wars ahead to fight in the bid to rid the Presidency of the powerful elements who are threatening the stability of her matrimonial home.
Aisha was born on February 17, 1971 in Adamawa State, Northeastern Nigeria. Her grandfather, Alhaji Muhammadu Ribadu, was Nigeria’s first minister of defence. Aisha married Buhari, who already had five children and one grandchild on December 2, 1989. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Public Administration from the Ambrose Alli University (AAU) and a master’s degree in International Affairs and Strategic Studies from the Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna. This is in addition to a post-graduate diploma in cosmetology and beauty from Academy Esthetique Beauty Institute of France. On account of her background, Aisha knows the intricate of power and would go to any length to protect her rights as First Lady.