I have always been a supporter of Aisha Buhari, not just because she is the President’s wife, but because I see her as different from others who have served as First lady. She seems to have shown some level of decency at least in her public conduct. These reasons prompted my piece ‘’Buhari’s wife, Our First lady’’, though, I have never met her. I also voiced my support for her with my piece “Aisha Buhari: Governor Fayose and Ignorance 101’’ when the controversial governor of Ekiti state attempted to tarnish her image by linking with the Jefferson bribery scandal.
However, last week I kept pondering over her British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) Hausa service interview and where to place her. When I first heard the promo on the morning program few days before the full interview was played, I asked myself what could be going on in her mind to warrant this kind of outburst. This is because the interview was nothing, but a mild way of releasing pent up frustration about the Buhari administration. Hence, on this interview i am not with her.
Some people believe this topic is no go area because it is an issue between her and her husband. I disagree because she is a public figure now. The issues she raised are fundamental to our dream of a new Nigeria under the change mantra. Also, the success or failure of this government will affect the lives of 180 million Nigerians bearing in mind that the country is in economic recession. Hence, it is an issue of public interest.
Before I go further, I will like to raise the following questions. Where was Zakari Yau Nadabo, her media aide when this interview was granted? What determined her choice of BBC Hausa as the medium for this interview instead of a family meeting? Has she exhausted all the avenues to have these anomalies corrected? Who advised her to do this? By this interview, Is she aware of the kind of image she is building for Halima,Amina and Zarah in the eyes of her in-laws and potential in-laws? How did her children feel in the midst of their friends after listening to the explosive interview?
The issue here is that even if President Buhari has bad breath, she should not be the one tell the world about it. Rather, she should be working quietly with him to find a solution to it, no matter how frustrating it is. Like the Hausa people will say ‘’Da mugun rawa,gara kin tashi’’. The Yorubas also say that ‘’tenu akata ba lewo,senu adiye lo ye kati gbo?
All the issues she raised are true, from the cabal to colourless ministers have been in public domain for almost one year, but she further confirmed it to Nigerians. The anger of fifteen million Nigerians against her husband is enough to give her sleepless nights, but going to the media is not the way to do it. What she has simply done is telling the President that he is on his own or what we say in Hausa as ‘’kowa yayi sallah, da karatun baakin shi’’
For instance, many Nigerians are not happy with the way and manner the trio of Babachir David Lawal, secretary to the Government of the Federation(SGF),Abba kyari, chief of Staff to the President and Mamman Daura, the powerful nephew of President Buhari have become a ‘’government within a government’’ determining who gets what and how.
In the case of Lawal, he has been notorious for his lack of public speaking etiquette. He once refer to participants at the Goodluck Jonathan National conference as ‘boys’’. He was also accused of allegedly collecting money from people who wanted board appointments in the Buhari administration. Of recent, he was accused of using two hundred and seventy million naira to clear grass for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPS) in the North East while they are suffering to get two meals per day.
He has also been accused of accepting slots of secret recruitments in Ministerial Departments and Agencies which he gives to only his family members and kinsmen from Kwambla in Hong local government of Adamawa state. The most recent was a job for his son-in-law who used to be a teacher, but now given a good job at Central Bank of Nigeria.(CBN).To the best of my knowledge, I have not come across any medium where Lawal denied these grievous allegations against him.
Kyari,on his part was alleged to have collected huge sums of money from MTN Nigeria to help reduce the fine imposed on the company by the federal government. He has either denied or confirmed the allegation.
As if this is not bad enough, Mamman Daura on his part was alleged to be playing the role of a de-facto vice president calling the shots in Aso Rock and responsible for a substantial number of appointments made by the president.
Back to the Aisha Buhari interview, if anyone is hailing her and telling her that she has become a hero with this political gaffe, then, that person is her worst enemy. Instead, she has ridiculed herself and her husband in the eyes of Nigerians as someone who pretends to be in charge , but he is not. Like the Hausa people will say ‘’garin neman al’lura,an tono garma’’. This simply means that instead of solving the problem she has compounded it.
As Fulanis, the norm is that couples never challenge each other in public. They have both broken this norm by their acts, no thanks to her flippant manner on International radio. President Buhari will now be fighting corruption, Niger Delta militants, saboteurs within All Progressives Congress (APC),Boko Haram and also dealing with a wife who is not him with politically.
All that she said on the BBC Hausa service can be said in the privacy of their bedroom or before trusted family members meeting and still make impact. After all, his success is hers, so is his failure and by extension Nigerians.
Adding salt to injury, President Buhari’s tactless response to the issue standing beside Angela Merkel in Germany by describing Aisha’s party as the “kitchen and the other room’’ is reckless and gaffe of the century. It is sickening that it is coming from a seventy three year old president seen as a ray of hope for a better Nigeria. If translated into Hausa, President Buhari in a concealed anger simply told her ‘’to shut up and stop meddling in issues she has no business with’’. His response portrayed him as one who degrades women at a time that women empowerment has received global recognition. The reaction of the international media especially Washington Post confirms this.
The attempt by Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant on Media to do damage control by describing it as a joke is an exercise in futility, because the damage had been done. It was all over the internet and #theotherroom# was trending on twitter for several hours. This is what you get when couples occupying sensitive position decide to wash their dirty linen in public.
I see it as a wrong approach because she has unconsciously given Buhari’s foes and political opponents within and outside the party a shot in the arm to fight him. This is because the issues she raised though true, are enough to bring the government down.
For instance, Bukola Saraki,Nigeria’s most controversial senate president who has avoided the president in recent times due to his Code of Conduct Tribunal(CCT) trial suddenly found his voice to mock t Buhari. He was quoted by the media as saying that the president’s wife has vindicated him by saying that the APC federal government has been hijacked by a cabal. If anyone is deceiving her, there is nothing like a perfect marriage, but everyone tries to manage theirs. She has unconsciously confirmed to Nigerians and the world that there is a crack in their relationship. Or how does one describe her decision not to campaign for him in 2019 should he decided to seek re-election, if the necessary changes are not made.
Am not holding brief for the President by saying he is a perfect person, but I believe their case is not as bad as that of others before them especially Abacha,Yar’Adua and Jonathan. Maryam Abacha knew Jeremiah Useni was very powerful in the government and allegedly did some things for the late Kanuri general that no reasonable wife will be happy about, but she never went to the media with it. Patience Jonathan also knew Dieziani Madueke was the power behind the throne in the Jonathan government, but she never cried out
Going back to where we borrowed our presidential system of government, George Bush, America’s 43rd President from 2001-2009 is today seen as the worst living president in the country’s history. His wife, Laura, of thirty nine years did not agree with many things in the government especially the Iraq war, because of her aversion for shedding of human blood, but she never went to the media. Could hijack of Buhari’s government by a few be more grievious than the invasion of Iraq? Why is Aisha Buhari’s case different?
According to Robert Green, author of 48 Laws of Power, one needs to choose his fight as well as the strategy. In this case, Aisha’s approach has exposed her to the cabal who she believes have hijacked the government. They will now go all out to undermine or even bring her down, because she has become a threat to their hold on her husband and the government. Hence, they will come up with new survival strategies, because in power struggle, morality has no place. At this point, she is now fighting two battle, to regain President’s Buhari’s confidence and also surviving any onslaught from the cabal. What a difficult battle to fight.
Aisha Buhari may have been motivated by a patriotic desire to help the President succeed, but her approach has destroyed her good intentions. She has also put herself and her husband on the spot for the wrong reasons. They both need to work out ways to resolve the issues amicably and refrain from making further comments publicly on the matter. This is a trying period for the President owing to the plethora of challenges confronting the nation and having the back of his wife is vital.
Most importantly, President Buhari must face reality by forgetting the messenger and taking the message. He needs to breathe life into his government if he does not want to end up like Goodluck Jonathan. His wife has told him bitter truth.
Lawal, a Public Commentator can be reached through firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: AbdulRafiu19