How does Aisha Buhari defers from the Wives of Former Presidents ?
Aisha, the wife of President Muhammadu Buhari is distinguished amongst her peers.
She says, she is not the rumoured to be getting marriage. Therefore, anyone interested should go and asked the president.
There are a number of things that make Aisha Buhari stand out when you compare her to other women who have been Nigeria’s First Ladies among whom are Maryam Babangida, Maryam Abacha, Stella Obasanjo, Turai Yar’Adua and Patience Jonathan.
Almost all of these ex-first ladies have shared similarities in many respects but they are different from Aisha Buhari in the important respects identified below.
- Publicly Criticizing the government led by her husband
It is clear that no First Lady in Nigeria has ever publicly criticized her husband’s government.
All the wives of previous leaders were said to be associated with their husbands and had the same mouth in all circumstances. In December 2016, Aisha Buhari first publicly criticized her husband’s government in an interview with BBC Hausa.
In the interview, the president’s wife warned her husband that she would not support his candidacy in 2019 if things did not go well, stating that his government had ignored most of the people who worked hard for him until he came to power.
This conversation has raised controversy not only in Nigeria but also abroad. There has never been a president’s wife who has done that before.
- Closure of the office of the First Lady
During the peak of the 2015 general elections, Aisha Buhari told APC women during a campaign outing that if the ‘office of the first lady’ does not exist constitutionally, she will limit her roles to the traditional functions of visiting orphanages and caring for society’s downtrodden as the first lady.
In the Nigerian constitution, there is no office of the president’s wife, but the previous administration has opened the office with privileges, a tradition that has long been rumoured. The finance for the office is not allocated to the national budget, but the ministry of women allocates the money it receives.
Nigerian media reported in 2014 that President Buhari announced that he would scrap the First Lady’s office if he was elected president. And until his second term in office, there was no official office for his wife.
- She does not have a say in her husband’s affairs
Aisha Buhari was not allowed to stay full-time in London with her husband who was on medical vacation. Unlike Aisha, her previous counterparts in Turai when her late husband, President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, spent a long time in Saudi Arabia, ‘she was the leading physician‘. There were even reports that she chose the people who had access to him.
- Tensions between her and her husband’s family
Although it is unclear whether the wives of former Nigerian leaders had issues with their husbands’ relatives, it is clear that there is a rift between Aisha and her husband’s famiy, especially, Mamman Daura’s Family.
This is why Nigerians find it strange that a member of president Buhari’s extended family has more say than the first lady in the Villa.
It is believed that some people close to the president are preventing Aisha from taking part in the day-to-day affairs, a situation no Nigerian president has ever encountered.
Even though Maryam Babangida took power when she was 37, which is Aisha’s younger, she was the second woman in a row to be the youngest of the other leaders. But perhaps Aisha’s youthful style is very different from the modern era of their rule, especially in the age of internet penetration and social media. “Aisha is young and beautiful, and this…makes her different from her past peers,” said Rahma Abdulmajid commentator and feminist activist. Aisha’s childhood is seen as a source of contention for her husband’s rule, as opposed to other government policies.
She is a woman who has a class and mind of her own, she only does whatever she believes is right. She does not keep silent when her husband’s government fails to deliver on promises delivered to Nigerians. This is a special personality and a class that distinguishes her, not only among other first ladies in Nigeria, but also around the world.
- She does not hide the problem in her home
To many, Aisha Buhari is different from her past peers by refusing to hide what is happening in her home. For example in a recent interview with the press the day after her return from England, she was asked about the president’s marriage rumours, and she refused to defend him. Instead she pointed them to take the questions to ones rumoured to be getting married.