Aisha as ‘Queen Amina’ of Buhari’s Presidency
Long before her recent exchange with the daughter of her in-law, Nigeria’s First Lady, Mrs. Aisha Buhari, had carved out her place in the hearts of Nigerians.
On several occasions she dropped hints at the protracted, but indoor battles she was waging against some powerful, but calculating men who insist on sharing the power and authority of her husband, President Muhammadu Buhari.
Recently, the drama, which seemed to have been scripted by her detractors, tended to expose how far the 48-year-old First Lady has warmed herself to the hearts of most Nigerians.
It was an Act with three scenes, which opened much like a rumour that flew up like a cock only to land and stand like a human being. Where is the first lady? In attempt to answer that poser, many scenarios were thrown up.
While some said she extended her lesser hajj to a holiday in the United Kingdom, others said it was her own poignant way of protesting the President’s (her husband’s) planned betrothal to another lady.
Yet, another set of all-knowing insider connections claimed that the notorious cabal has decided to banish the first lady from the Presidency to punish the cheeky impudent swagger she displayed prior to the 2019 general elections.
Being the grand daughter of Nigeria’s first minister of Defence, Alhaji Muhammadu Ribadu, the first lady, who was married from the old North East State to the old North Central, knew what it was to be married to a soldier, albeit a former military governor.
Yet, having married the former military governor, who was also Nigeria’s former military head of state, Aisha was aware of the strong bond between her husband and his strong-willed, but calculating nephew that towers more like a big brother.
Within the about 26 odd years she was married to General Muhammadu Buhari, Aisha had become conversant with the daily struggle of fighting off the shadow of this ubiquitous big brother in the attempt to exert her authority as wife and mother.
So, blessed with such unenviable background, right from the Eagle Square, where her husband was sworn into office as Nigeria’s fifth elected President on May 29, 2015, Aisha did not leave anybody in doubt that she was going into the Presidential Villa with her fighting spirit intact.
Married to Buhari at the age of 18, Aisha is imbued with the activist spirit, specializing in fight against child marriage and vocal advocacy for women’s rights. She has been consistent in condemning early marriages, drug addiction and sex trafficking.
In the early days of her husband’s Presidency, Aisha proclaimed that unlike her predecessors who dabbled into political intrigues, she would limit herself to only activities allowed by the constitution.
That display of humility and modesty, as well as her perceived unwillingness to adopt the first lady title, helped to push up her public image as a good mother and woman of the people.
It was this golden image that came on trial recently when Fatima took up her father’s fight and profiled the first lady as a bully and sly child molester that had been manipulating public opinion.
In what opened as scene two of the Presidency drama, a video clip showing a middle-aged woman ranting inside what turned out to be the Presidential quarters. Fatima was later to own up to the making of the video, explaining that it was aimed at pulling the veil off the first lady’s shenanigans.
But for the video, according to Fatima, nobody would have believed that the first lady could verbally abuse her or attack her family. Although Fatima did not disclose whether her father approved of her decision to hand over the evidence of the verbal warfare to the media, it was obvious that all was not well in the Presidency that accommodated an ‘assistant husband.’
Ambushed with that raw evidence, Aisha took the gauntlet and courageously admitted that the angry “voice ranting in the video is mine.”
Applying candour as her cudgel, Aisha went a step further to explain, not only that Fatima was mocking her while recording the video, but also how Fatima’s father and his family denied her access to some parts of the Presidential Villa after they were ordered out of the abode of power.
Even though she met the video ambush with a forthright answer, the first lady dampened the fever surrounding the troubled circumstances of the Presidential Villa by her clarification that that episode happened in 2017.
But the next scene, which would have opened at the Aso Rock Mosque, turned out as a pantomime. The rumour of a pending marriage between her husband and one of his ministers seemed to have been scripted to underscore the fact that the first lady was after all a second wife.
And coming nearly three months after she adopted the official title of First Lady, and five years after the President threatened to do away with the office, it was as if the stage was actually set for a fresh wife to step in.
The plot was complete. With the video in public domain, it was as if Aisha’s return was in response to the prospective, but phoney wedding, only to be locked out: “This is the villa; we have over 200 soldiers guarding us, 200 policemen guarding us. Why do you have to lock this door? What for? What for? Enough is enough!! Enough is enough!!! Let me know when you are leaving this place.”
Reprieve to the building suspense came when the First Lady announced on her arrival from London that it was an old video that captured what actually transpired in the Presidential Villa some two years ago.
The fact that Mrs. Aisha Buhari has been engaged in a running battle with the famed Presidency cabal has been on the public domain. But, what emerged from the animus between Fatima and Aisha was the disclosure that the head of the cabal was actually moved to the Glass House (perhaps, in anticipation that he should stop throwing stones) in the Villa.
As wife of President Buhari, the first salvo that Aisha fired against the ‘forces’ holding down her husband’s administration was in October 2016 when she told a correspondent of British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) that some people were holding the President hostage.
She actually explained that Buhari “does not know 45 out of 50 of his appointees and I don’t know them either, despite being his wife of 27 years. Some people are sitting in their homes with folded arms, only to be invited to come and head and agency or ministerial position.”
Two years after that BBC bombshell, Aisha was emboldened to isolate the leaders of the cabal. Addressing members of Project 4 + 4 in Abuja, the First Lady said two powerful men have constituted themselves into a cog in the wheel of the progress of the administration.
Earlier in 2017, precisely on October 9, the woman from Adamawa, whose father was an Engineer, descended on the management of Aso Rock Clinic, lamenting that the facility cannot boast of simple diagnostic equipment to treat patients.
Although the First Lady informed the BBC interviewer that her husband had not told her about seeking a second term, she declared her reluctance “to go out and campaign again and ask any woman to vote like I did before.”
As the 2019 General Elections approached, Aisha did not spare the National Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole, when she decried the impunity that trailed the party primary elections.
She had remarked: ”All Progressives Congress being a party, which cardinal principle is change and headed by a comrade/activist, whose main concern is for the common man, yet, such impunity could take place under its watch.”
The First Lady regretted that it was disheartening to “note that some aspirants, who used their hard-earned money to purchase nomination forms, got screened, cleared and campaigned vigorously, yet had their names omitted on election date.”
As she delivered the punches, she received what many thought was a knock out blow when her husband told journalists in Germany that his wife “belongs to my kitchen and living room and the other room.”
Barely five months into her husband’s ‘Next Level’ administration, Nigerians are waiting to see if Aisha Buhari would remain the Queen Amina of Buhari’s Presidency to sustain the fight for the oppressed.