Editors’ note: The writer, Buchi Obichie, in this witty piece, praises Mrs Aisha Buhari for being an outspoken first lady and voicing the sentiments of the masses in spite of great opposition from a powerful cabal!
A defiant and “sorely-missed” Aisha Buhari made her triumphant return into the country on Sunday, October 13 after a “long rest” in the United Kingdom.
With the imposing British Airways aircraft still behind her, the first lady had barely stepped upon the red carpet when she began taking questions from newsmen who had braved the harsh Abuja cold to meet her at about 4:30am in order to get what would surely become talking points for the days ahead.
And Mrs Buhari, resplendent in her moderate (designer) attire and impeccable make-up which had somehow survived the trip across continents, was all too ready.
She smiled as she took questions…even tough questions about a leaked video which showed her shouting in the Aso Rock Villa after she was allegedly locked out of a particular building. She didn’t deny that it was her or claim that the video had been edited. She just answered tactfully.
Yes, it was her. It was an old video. And then this: It was recorded by Fatima Daura – the surname speaks for itself - and the security agencies couldn’t do anything about it!
It was a gutsy response from an outspoken woman…classic Aisha!
Now, while I am no supporter of President Muhammadu Buhari – frankly, I think the country has fared worse since 2015 – I will honestly say that I admire his wife. I admire her for her outspokenness and bravery. So, permit me to commend this woman for a little bit.
Aisha Buhari is a woman some love to hate but few dare challenge – at least, not openly. Since that fateful day in 2015 when she showed up at her husband’s side in her white regalia as he took his oath of office, she has been front and center in a government where not many women have commanding voices.
She has also been highly visible in a conservative union where conventional wisdom would have dictated that she stay quiet, hidden in the shadows of her husband.
As an Hausa, Muslim wife, and the spouse of a former general, many had expected that the first lady would have a subdued presence…only performing at ceremonial functions once the campaign was over.
But this was not to be the stance of Aisha.
Nigerians wondered, over and over again, at this audacity of this daughter of Adamawa, when she boldly called out a powerful cabal within her husband’s government and declared that she won’t campaign for him as the 2019 elections approached, if things remained the same.
Within this so-called cabal, she reportedly stirred up so much ire and anger that she was labeled “the suicide bomber from Yola”. Yet, she didn’t let up.
After her husband stated before a shocked German chancellor, that his wife belonged in “the other room”, we thought that Aisha would become a little less outspoken. But that didn’t faze her either or relegate her into the background.
While the second lady, Dolapo Osinbajo, has maintained a calmer disposition, with words rarely spoken in public, the first lady has employed a much different stance - one of a warrior always ready for battle!
But Nigerians love her.
We love Aisha Buhari because she seems to echo the thoughts of the masses. I know that sounds like such a paradox, considering that she lives in luxury and opulence. What could she ever know about what it feels like to be one of ‘us’, right?
However, seeing that ‘free speech is no longer really free in this dispensation’, it is such an exhilarating feeling, knowing that someone within the president’s household has the temerity to speak truth to power in public, without regard for whose ox is gored – even though she probably doesn’t know how much one derica of rice costs these days!
So when we saw the video circulating of the president’s wife raising hell within the Villa, we didn’t think it was out of place. It was Aisha being Aisha…using her voice, and using it loudly.
It wasn’t about the cabal causing obstructions in her husband’s government this time – even though relatives of a certain individual said to be the ring leader of the cabal were the subjects of her anger. This time, however, it was because she reportedly needed the premises which she had been locked out of, for her son, Yusuf, who was recuperating from a serious accident.
Yet, we still raised our thumbs in salute.
Even when Fatima Daura gave a rather colorful version of events after ‘leaking the video’, majority of Nigerians took in Fatima’s claims with a pinch of salt. For all intents and purposes, we were on Aisha’s side.
And our loyalty was even more entrenched when a presidency source poured cold water on Fatima’s claims; pointing out that the first lady had gotten permission from her husband to use the premises, and had even given notification in writing to the Daura’s before the incident occurred.
The source also called out Fatima for allegedly leaving out her own part in the fracas, in which she reportedly first hurled insults at Mrs Buhari!
What? Our Aisha had been insulted to her face? Our first lady disrespected so brazenly? No, no we won’t take this! *chuckling*
Truth be told, for most of the viewing public, this particular incident wasn’t exactly about an apartment in the Villa. What do we really care about who gets permission to use where in Aso Rock?
Rather, it was about the fact that once again, Aisha Buhari was living up to expectations and refusing to back down… she was resisting.
Let me break it down for you: The rest of us can’t resist (or at least, we don’t seem to be able to do so)…but Aisha Buhari can!
Mrs Buhari has become a thorn in the sides of a highly influential few who are said to wield enormous power in a country where power is everything. She says what the rest of us cannot say publicly. And her position as first lady means she can’t be thrown in jail for her remarks! Lol!
What more could the rest of us have asked for? *huge understatement but you get my sarcasm*
I can imagine that her confrontational and somewhat antagonistic stance has put her out of favour with her husband on a few occasions; but what does she care? Especially when the rest of us don’t mind!
Maybe it’s the fact that she was born into a somewhat wealthy family – her father was a civil engineer, and her mother is a descendant of a renowned family. Maybe it’s because of her education – the president’s wife holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in public administration from Ahmadu Bello University, and a master's degree in International Affairs and Strategic Studies from the Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna.
Whatever the reason is though, all I can say is that it’s a good thing Nigeria has a person like Aisha Buhari in Aso Rock at such a time as this.
In all honesty, it is not as though her tirades have actually transformed into meaningful change…for the most part, they’ve been ignored. However, the fact that she remains defiant in the face of great opposition from hidden figures gives us reasons to smile.
Give them hell Mrs Buhari…give them bloody hell!
NB: At the end of the day, history will judge, who were the ‘real villains’ in this highly emotive thriller that is Nigeria, circa 2015-2023!
This opinion piece was written by Buchi Obichie.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the editorial policy of Legit.ng.
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