By Casmir Igbokwe
Aso Rock provided Nigerians some comic relief last week. At the centre of the drama was the wife of the President, Mrs. Aisha Buhari. When we thought her adversaries had cowed her, she sprang surprises and gave them an uppercut. There is a simple lesson here: never underestimate the power of a determined woman.
The cabal in Aso Rock thought they could control affairs in the Villa without her. The arrowhead of this cabal is said to be President Muhammadu Buhari’s nephew and close confidant, Mamman Daura. He allegedly became the neck of Nigeria’s number one citizen. You know wherever the neck turns is where the head goes.
Aisha, who naturally should be Buhari’s neck, was not happy about this. She waited for the right time to strike. Daura’s daughter, Fatima, provided that opportunity. According to the story, which trended in the media last week, President Buhari had asked the Daura family to vacate their Glass House residence in the Villa for his son, Yusuf. He gave them another house in the same Villa. The Dauras delayed in relocating. This led to a series of events that culminated in a quarrel between the First Lady and the Dauras. A video of the quarrel later went viral.
As Mrs. Buhari put it, security officers “failed to do anything about it because it was Mamman Daura’s daughter, Fatima, that videoed me. So, both me and the security, our hands were tied to do anything, and it continues like that…”
Fatima further played into the First Lady’s hands with the interview she granted the Hausa Service of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). She said the First Lady was hurling insults and shouting.
“She was making a lot of noise, saying she was being oppressed. I filmed the encounter to show our parents and security officials, in case something happens,” she blurted.
Fatima’s action was sacrilegious. She might have been emboldened by her father’s advertised influence and the First Lady’s perceived weakness and helplessness in Aso Rock’s power game.
In an interview she granted the BBC in 2016, the First Lady amplified this apparent helplessness when she said the cabal had hijacked governance in the country and sidelined those who fought for the victory of the President in the 2015 election. Noting that the President did not know 45 out of 50 of his appointees, Mrs. Buhari even threatened not to support her husband’s re-election in 2019, if the situation continued. Buhari’s response to his wife’s anger was to say that she belonged to the other room or “za oza room,” as some mischief-makers would say.
Nevertheless, Mrs. Buhari never relented. In the build-up to the 2019 general election, she fumed against perceived injustices in the ruling party, the All Progressives Congress. She also took a swipe at the national chairman of the APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, regretting that he could allow such impunity in the APC despite his background as an activist. Still, nobody reckoned with her outburst.
This was in contrast to the enormous influence some wives of Nigeria’s former Presidents wielded. Under former President Olusegun Obasanjo, the late First Lady, Stella, was very powerful. The late Mrs. Maryam Babangida was phenomenal. Patience Jonathan? That one was a fighter. You dared not mess with her.
As if to further dare Aisha, the news spread, penultimate week, that the President would wed his lovely Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Sadiya Umar Farouk. Though the story eventually turned out to be false, I had this feeling that it would turn things around for the First Lady.
So, I was not surprised when the news broke last Wednesday that the President had approved the appointment of six aides for his wife. Madam was full of praises for her husband for approving these new aides. The aides are Special Assistant, African First Ladies Peace Mission; Special Assistant, Organisation of African First Ladies for Development; Special Assistant, Non-Governmental Organisations; Special Assistant, Media and Publicity; Special Assistant, Domestic and Social Events, and Personal Assistant, Domestic and Social Events.
What I don’t understand is why Domestic and Social Events portfolio has two assistants – special assistant and personal assistant. And how is the First Lady’s office funded, since Buhari himself acknowledged that it is unknown to the Nigerian Constitution?
Recall that the President said during his campaign in 2014 that there would not be anything like office of the First Lady because it was not provided for in the Constitution. When he assumed office in 2015, his wife was addressed as wife of the President. In June this year, Mrs. Buhari told Nigerians to address her as the First Lady. According to her, she realised that it caused confusion from the states as to whether the wives of state governors were to be addressed as the first ladies or wives of the governors.
Now, there is no confusion anymore! Our First Lady has melted the heart of the Lion King and firmly established herself. To let sleeping dogs lie, she has apologised to her children, family members and the public for the embarrassment the video of her altercation with Fatima caused. For effect, wives of governors from the 36 states were with her on a solidarity visit at the Presidential Villa to receive the apology on our behalf. Also at the solidarity visit were the wives of the Vice-President, Dolapo Osinbajo; wife of the Senate President, Maryam Lawan; wife of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Salamatu Gbajiabiamila; and some other important wives.
The First Lady, in appreciation, perhaps, pledged to construct a regional secretariat for the African First Ladies Peace Mission (AFLPM). She said she had successfully secured 2.7 hectares of land in Abuja for this purpose and the foundation laying would soon be conducted in the presence of African First Ladies.
Kudos, our dear First Lady! All I can say to her enemies for now is, anytime Buhari goes back to London for medical check-up, she is the one who will be beside his bed to nurse him. Neither you nor Daura’s daughters will be there. Anytime their son, Yusuf, gets married, it is two of them who will take greater share of the glory. And only two of them know what happens when they retire to the other room. So, don’t be jealous.
I just have one plea for the First Lady. Now that she has had the last laugh, she should not forget to demand some palliatives for the over 100 million extremely poor Nigerians. She should continue to deploy her dogged spirit in the fight to enthrone an egalitarian society in Nigeria.
Re: Malleable judiciary and executive recklessness in Nigeria
Casmir, we know that in a democracy like ours, judiciary is one of the three arms of govt. Its main duty is to interpret the laws of governance. The function is so crucial that it is branded the last hope of the common man. To function effectively, this arm must be incorruptible. Selection of key officers must be based on merit and not quota system. Unfortunately, this is not so in Nigeria.
– Pharm. Okwy Njike, +2348038854922
The CJN and Appeal Court president should keep their words over obeying court orders as they promised. They should hit the ground running by releasing those that courts have already granted bail to show their seriousness that rule of law must be obeyed. The lawlessness in the judiciary must stop and they should stop seeking financial assistance from the executive.
– Gordon Chika Nnorom, Umukabia, +2348062887535
I will call the judiciary presently in Nigeria auxiliary executive, while legislature is appendage. You also talked about arms of government. Where does that exist in Nigeria? How will democracy thrive where the executive chooses the order of court to obey and the legislature is castrated? Democracy can’t flourish where there are no proper checks and balances. It is only in Nigeria that history keeps repeating itself. But APC should remember that everything on earth is ephemeral because Abacha, Babangida, OBJ failed with public opprobrium. Equally, PDP contributed immensely to this mess because their senators are selfish.
– Smart, +2348134774884
Re: The other side of Nigeria Police Force
Corruption in Nigeria thrives at institutional and individual levels. And take notice that the days of imprest and funding of governmental institutions are over and are now a matter of history. An important institution like the Nigeria Police Force, which is central to our justice delivery system, has remained neglected and underfunded for decades. Whether at governmental or individual level, corruption has overwhelmed the entire fabric of the Nigerian society. Or haven’t we now heard of the shocking news of phone theft and forged certificates at police recruitment venues? Those are corruption dragons about to slip in and further worsen the already stinking system. Occasioned by the unfortunate circumstances, which the police institution is exposed to, complainants are now made to pay for mobilisation, while suspects are mindlessly extorted in the name of bail before their freedom is temporarily granted. What is extorted is purportedly used to execute their job while the greater part goes into the officers’ pockets. Why would corruption not rear its ugly head and fester when government neglects its funding role to the extent that a supposed police prosecutor at the court is easily induced by the recurring frustration or sheer weakness of his mind to trade in both the complainant and accused’s interest? Let the truth be told: this ugly side of the Nigeria Police is both government-induced and heightened by the naturally corrupt officers who capitalise on government’s neglect to line their pockets.
– Edet Essien Esq., Calabar South, +2348037952470
- First published in the Daily Sun of Monday, October 21, 2019