From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
First Lady, Mrs. Aisha Buhari, yesterday, said President Muhammadu Buhari suffered Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) for many years as a result of his involvement in the Nigerian civil war, his removal as the military’s head of state in 1985, and his subsequent detention for 40 months without being charged with any crimes.
She made the disclosure as a special guest of honour at the ground-breaking ceremony for the Armed Forces Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Centre (AFPTSDC) initiated by the wife of the Chief of the Chief of Defence Staff, Mrs Lucky Irabor, through the Defence and Police Officers’ Wives Association (DEPOWA).
The president’s wife said her husbands health condition was not helped by the lack of proper rehabilitation.
She claimed Buhari’s failure in three straight elections made matters worse for her in the circumstance she found herself in when she married him at the age of 19 and unintentionally served as his physiotherapist.
She reprimanded lawmakers who had recently lost primary elections and had become nearly inconsolable, with some turning off their phones in an effort to avoid contact.
“I want to thank DEPOWA for this foresighted vision of establishing a Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Centre for our soldiers. Indeed, PTSD is a mental health condition triggered by terrifying events.
“It is a reality that soldiers and military families have to live with, despite its negative consequences. Being a soldier’s wife or a retired soldier’s wife and a wellness expert, I understand the challenges associated with PTSD and its impact on military families and the nation.
“My husband served the Nigerian Army for 27 years before he was overthrown in a coup d’état. He fought civil war for 30 months without rehabilitation; he ruled Nigeria for 20 months and was detained for 40 months without disclosing the nature of his offence. One year after he came out from detention, we were married, I clocked 19 years in his house as his wife, legitimately. I suffered the consequences of PTSD, because having gone through all these, and at the age of 19, to handle somebody, who was a former Head of State and Commander-in-Chief of Nigeria’s Armed Forces, to tell him that he is wrong is the first mistake you will make.
“So, at the age of 19, I had to figure out how to tell somebody of his calibre that he was wrong or right and that was the beginning of my offence in his house, and contesting elections in 2003 and failed, 2007, failed and 2011, the same thing – all without rehabilitation – I became a physiotherapist. Finally, the whole nation rose against the misuse of power and bad governance. He only succeeded when it became a movement and here we are today. He ruled Nigeria before and he is ruling Nigeria now and this is the last time and final.
“Failing election for three times was a big blow to every contestant but those that have contested for just yesterday, a simple primary election, they are still living in a traumatic condition, I tried to console them, I tried to talk to them, some of them have switched off their phones up till today, just because of a primary election.
“You can imagine myself at 19 years, handling somebody that went to war, suffered coup d’état, then lost several elections, and, finally, getting to the Villa in the 2015. Also, for a woman to tell them that this is wrong or right in Nigeria and Africa is a problem.”
Mrs. Buhari emphasised that soldiers were the main victims and that the PTSD centre was crucial for all members of the armed forces.
President of DEPOWA, Mrs Vickie Irabor, said the centre was born out of compassion for families of soldiers and research conducted by the association.