Nigeria’s First Lady has stirred the hornet’s nest again. The wife of the President, Dr. Aisha Muhammadu Buhari in a brazen move, accused the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, of shifting his loyalty from President Buhari to a cabal within the corridors of power.
This is not the first time the first lady will come out boldly to bravely condemn some of the ills in the presidency, not minding whose ox is gored. From the first three years of her being the first lady, Aisha Buhari has been consistent in her outspokenness, breaking the tradition of silence in women from the northern part of Nigeria.
An age old domineering influence of patriarchy used to subdue the northern womenfolk, only to be seen and not to be heard, Northern Nigerian women are often perceived as timid and demure especially those married to the powerful men from the region. Not Mrs Aisha Muhammadu Buhari.
Call her the mouthpiece of the masses, you may not be wrong, but while many think her latest bombshell is in line with her character as a true patriot and her penchant for speaking truth to power is for the collective interest of the Nation, some still waive her off as perhaps the real enemy within and a destabilizing factor with ulterior motives more so, when during the last presidential elections, shortly after she had condemned her husband’s government, she made a volte face by calling on Nigerians to vote for her husband.
It will be recalled that Mrs Buhari has been hitting the headlines since October 2016, when she vented her frustration during an interview with the BBC that her husband’s government had been hijacked by cabals and that she might not support President Buhari in the 2019 presidential election except he rejigged his government.
She went on to say that the president did not know most of the top officials he appointed, that those who really worked for her husband’s electoral success had been left out of the government.
“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. 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,” Mrs. Buhari stated in Hausa language.
That act of boldness was unprecedented and it shocked many that such scathing criticism came from a First Lady and one married into the intrinsic northern family traditions. This bold step endeared her to majority of Nigerians, who believed she spoke nothing but the truth!
The next time Mrs Buhari would fire another salvo was in December 2018, when she alleged that there were two strong men within the cabal slowing down her husband’s government. This was at a time when the elections for the 2019 elections were in full-gear. She said that the actions of these fellows were hindrances to President Buhari’s performance.
Mrs Buhari was quoted as saying “Our votes were 15.4 million in the last elections and after that only for us to be dominated by two people. This is totally unacceptable. If 15.4 million people can bring in a government and only for the government to be dominated by two people or three people, where are the men of Nigeria? Where are the Nigerian men? What are you doing? Instead of them to come together and fight them, they keep visiting them one after the other, licking their shoes (I’m sorry to use those words),” she voiced.
With these audacious declarations, many had concluded that the end was near for the so-called cabal in government but Aisha had a way of rattling and disorganizing the battle line and then falling back in place as was seen during the campaigns.
Nevertheless, Say what you may, Aisha Buhari is definitely not the typical northern woman, she has proven overtime time that she lives by her own convictions and will not allow her potential to be buried in the shadows of her husband as shown when she fought tooth and nail to be installed First Lady, in an official capacity even after President Buhari had declared he would not have a First Lady. Aisha got her wish. Today, she is First Lady and she declared after her last hiatus outside the country which left many tongues wagging about the state of the ‘First Marriage’, the president himself approved six aides for her office and she thanked him profusely, evidently announcing herself as the bonafide First Lady of Nigeria.
As a First Lady, Aisha Buhari’s strength of character can only be compared to that of the late Winnie Mandela of South Africa. After spending all of the 27yrs her husband was in prison fighting against apartheid, the great Winnie Madikizela Mandela refused to be silenced when he became president of free South Africa, fighting against powerful forces she felt had compromised the values of the ANC.
Like Winnie, Aisha Buhari, chooses to be different. She has chosen to use her position as wife to the president of the most powerful nation in Africa to speak against ills of governance.
She is forthright and vocal and has redefined the position she occupies completely without bias.
Can this First lady be silenced? Is she positioning herself for future political power? The future will tell.