We have had many first ladies, some kept quiet while their husbands took Nigeria to hell and back. Others actively participated. This one has gone against the grain, she is a contrarian. The week after, Baba announced the names of 43 politicians for ambassadorial appointments. Tell me why that had to wait for 17 months?
“After receiving complaints upon complaints, I decided to tell him but all the same a lot of people have been coming on their own and also collectively to tell him that things are not going the way it should that is when it comes to like putting people in certain positions. Because most of these people that are occupying some agencies; number one, nobody knows them; number two, they don’t know our party manisfesto, they don’t know what we campaigned for, they were not part of us completely. They don’t have a mission, they don’t have a vision about APC. I have my own rights, you know, to say how I feel about something. If it continues like this me, I’m not going to be part of any movement again, because I need to work with the people that we started the journey collectively as a teamwork so that we can achieve what we want to achieve, so that he will leave a legacy”.
The above was said in English by the wife of the president, Hajia Aisha Buhari in one of the BBC interviews. There has been trouble in paradise since her interviews were made public. The nation has been basically split down the middle by this unprecedented event. No other Nigerian first lady has so ‘outed’ their husband in this manner. I cannot even remember anywhere in the world where this has happened. Many people have advised the president to divorce the woman, and we have heard many stories of what is happening between the husband and wife. Whereas many Nigerians are ready to get in-between this couple and see to their severance, I have since taken a position that everything must be done to assist Nigeria’s first couple and ensure their relationship does not break down.
In the final analysis, we have cause to be worried in Nigeria that over the years, we seem unable to get things right. How many times will our hopes be dashed? For as long as I’ve been alive and aware of my political environment, it has been one disappointment after another. Save for short periods – Murtala Muahammed and the first coming of Muhammadu Buhari – there hasn’t been any time when we felt the need to celebrate the type of leadership we have had. Even now, people are saying Buhari has demystified himself, and he will find it tough to argue against this. 16 months into a government of unprecedented hope and look at where we are! Suddenly we have given voice to even those who say that Murtala was not what we said he was; that he destroyed the civil service and so on.
…even in the USA, from where we copied this democracy, those who work for electoral victories are quickly recognised and given responsibilities, not to talk of a Nigeria where we say we want to enact CHANGE and then totally ignore, impoverish, neglect and even brutalise those who had shown that they were ready to be change agents.
In 1999 not all Nigerians were sure that the military would vacate for Obasanjo’s government. But as the reality dawned, we relaxed and some hope came. The military regimes themselves had promised a better Nigeria at every turn but our dreams quickly turned into nightmares. Yar’Adua seemed an unlikely guy, but he did a few things in his time that endeared him to me. I didn’t even know what he stood for until mass criticisms, even on his death bed, made me take a second look. Here was a man who has set an insurmountable barrier for our leaders; Buhari inclusive. He declared his asset openly and set about running a fairly open government according to the rule of law. Since democracy returned, Umaru’s government is the only one that did not – at least under his watch – go daggers-drawn against the people. Obasanjo paraded the Okupes, Nwekes and Fani-Kayodes, who daily insulted the people on behalf of the government. Jonathan retained Okupe and added Abati. Abati called the youth of Nigeria ‘children of anger’, just as Femi Adesina nicknamed everyone who had cause for concern about government deliverables as ‘wailing wailers’. It is beyond surprise that we would have this antagonistic relationship in this people’s change regime. Beyond imagination really!
So, whereas many people have castigated and excoriated the First Lady, with many – especially men – asking that Buhari divorce her right away for being disloyal, I choose to see it differently. Those who are against her statement hold on to the first part wherein she spoke about incorporating in government those who worked hard to ensure victory for her husband. Ordinarily, no one needed to remind Buhari of that salient fact. Buhari’s own cross is that he frittered away goodwill faster than any other leader in the history of leadership. For even in the USA, from where we copied this democracy, those who work for electoral victories are quickly recognised and given responsibilities, not to talk of a Nigeria where we say we want to enact CHANGE and then totally ignore, impoverish, neglect and even brutalise those who had shown that they were ready to be change agents. How can you drive change without change agents? Why did Buhari start his appointments with people like Ita Enang; a serious anomaly of which I dedicated an article to (and I hardly write about personalities). The truth is that Buhari set out to play a very toxic type of politics, egged on by the likes of Lai Mohammed, Femi Adesina, Garba Shehu, and the new trolls on social media, now known as Hailing Failers (for they support governments to fail)! That politics has now boomeranged.
In all of these, and since most of Buhari’s ministers are afraid of him, plus the fact that – as we hear – they are all subordinated to his Chief of Staff, the only person on earth that can tell him some truth is his wife. She must therefore have been quite frustrated and unable to reach him before granting this interview. If we must share blames, Baba will carry the lion’s share. All we have heard since he came is how people must suffer more, yet the people see with their own “korokoro” eyes how government officials still purchase luxury cars and make themselves very comfortable on the taxpayer’s dime. And he it was who denied or caused his people to deny ALL the fantastic promises his party made during the elections; from the N5,000 promised indigent youth, to the N15,000 promised post-NYSC unemployed graduates, to the meals promised school children, and scholarships. APC refused to heed then when we cautioned that they should go easy on the promises. Now that its time to fulfil these promises, all we have are denials, and they are not even doing that nicely. They basically told the suffering and expectant masses to buzz off! Nice. But there are repercussions.
I believe that this her frustration did not start today and is not merely about some of her people getting appointments as alleged by some people. Her actions and speech in 2015 – including her visit to Bola Tinubu’s home to placate the APC bigwig – exonerates her from the nonsense people are saying.
This same Aisha Buhari had spoken up in November last year, when we were still waiting with bated breath for Baba’s goodies, and amidst all the reneging by Baba, that the APC should please make sure they fulfil their promise to the youth, especially the N5,000 monthly matter. The newspapers reported that she BEGGED. So I believe that this her frustration did not start today and is not merely about some of her people getting appointments as alleged by some people. Her actions and speech in 2015 – including her visit to Bola Tinubu’s home to placate the APC bigwig – exonerates her from the nonsense people are saying. This is a good woman we have here; an asset to any man, indeed any country.
In terms of whether she should have spoken up at all, I put it down to her own naivety; call it innocence, call it clumsiness. We have had many first ladies, some kept quiet while their husbands took Nigeria to hell and back. Others actively participated. This one has gone against the grain, she is a contrarian. The week after, Baba announced the names of 43 politicians for ambassadorial appointments. Tell me why that had to wait for 17 months? I think Aisha – in all her awkwardness – is a hero of democracy and good governance. Ci ken an.