As Nigerians await the second term of President Muhammadu Buhari, tagged ‘Next Level’ to take shape, his wife, Aisha, seems to have overtaken him by unveiling her new official title to suit the new level, Daily Trust on Sunday reports. The change of her official title from wife of the president to the first lady of the Federal Republic of Nigeria punctured the president’s 2014 pledge to Nigerians.
Daily Trust on Sunday recalls that Buhari had in 2014 before he was elected for a first term, said he wanted to scrap the office of the first lady. Hinging his decision on the country’s constitution, Buhari said he would not have an office for first lady if elected. He went ahead to say that there was no official role for presidents’ wives in the constitution.
Daily Trust on Sunday reports that to fulfil his pledge when he assumed office in 2015, his wife’ was given the title: Wife of the President, against the usual First Lady.
Throughout the first tenure, the title was maintained and wives of governors followed suit across the country. Aisha Buhari who announced the change of her official title during an award night and dinner organised in honour of governors’ wives at the State House, said, “When my husband was elected newly, I personally chose to be called the Wife of the President.
“But, I have realised that it causes confusion from the states as to whether the wives of state governors are to be addressed as the first ladies or wives of the governors.”
Daily Trust on Sunday reports in the last three weeks, Aisha Buhari, who’s the 14th first lady so far produced in the country, has always been in the news for various reasons. Buhari and Obasanjo have had two different first ladies during their military and civilian eras.Under the late Shehu Shagari, there was none.
Uproar over N.7m attire
Before the change of her official title, Aisha Buhari was in the news over the N.7m attire she wore on Tuesday during the Democracy Day dinner/gala night at the State House Conference Centre, Abuja. She stole the show with her Oscar De La Renta silk-crepe cape-back caftan. The event was attended by foreign leaders, governors, diplomats, security chiefs, among others.
Hours after her outing, the cost of the attire became the topic of discussion in the social media. The attire, according to an online store, goes for $2,145, equivalent of N772,200, at N360 per dollar. The initial price of the attire was $4,290 (N1,544,400.)
First Lady’s lamentation on banditry
Ten days earlier, the president’s wife was in the news when she raised alarm over the deteriorating security in the country. In the home state of the President, Aisha, who hails from Adamawa State, said it would be unfortunate for people who voted wholeheartedly for her husband to be allowed to be killed unnecessarily by bandits.
She said people must speak out as the killings were worrisome and that if not tackled they could end up consuming everyone. “When the Katsina SSG spoke out, I sent it to all security outfits in the country. I told them it’s either they go and help out or allow us all to be killed. It is a must for people to come out and speak.
Anything that is not right; people should say it, no matter what,” she said. Her lamentation came at a time the Magajin Garin Daura, Alhaji Musa Umar Uba, is languishing in the custody of kidnappers. Alhaji Uba, a senior counsellor in Daura Emirate, has spent over 46 days with his abductors. He is an in-law of the Presidnet.
Attack on Buhari’s SIP
Four days to the swearing in of her husband for a second, the first lady faulted the implementation of the Federal Government’s Social Investment Programme (SIP). At an interactive programme for women at the State House, Abuja, she said the programme which had gulped N470.8bn had failed in the North.
The SIPs are the N-Power, Conditional Cash Transfer, National Home-Grown School Feeding and Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programmes (GEEP). Annually, the Federal Government budgets N500bn for social investment. However, in 2016 only N79.98bn was released, 2017 N140bn and in 2018, N250.4bn was released.
Aisha said, “Concerning the N500bn voted for SIP, that was part of 2015 campaigns where they promised to give out N10,000, feed pupils in primary schools and give N5,000 to the poorest of the poorer. “The SSA to the President on Social Investment is a lady from Kano, and I’m sure that my husband decided to put somebody from Kano because of the population and political impact it made. I have never asked how the money is being used or is being given out.
I met barrister (one of the President’s aides on SIP) once and he promised me that for my state (Adamawa) we should get 30,000 women to be given N10,000. Up till now I haven’t heard from him. “I don’t want to raise alarm that my state does not benefit from it, where the SGF came from, I kept quiet because I don’t want people to say that I talk too much. “Recently, I saw a 74-year-old man selling petty things in Kano, I asked him how much his capital was, he told me between N3,000 and N4,000. Don’t forget that we have campaigned to give the poorest of the poor N5,000 every month.
“So I don’t know where the social investment is. Maybe, It worked out in some states. In my own state, only a local government benefited out of the 22.
I didn’t ask what happened and I don’t want to know, but for it to fail woefully in Kano, it’s not a good sign and it’s not a good thing. We have a lot of women that do business locally due to cultural things in the North. They are at home doing their businesses.
Some are millionaires, some have thousands of naira, they need the assistance, but they do not get it. Most northern women do not belong to any market association. “I was expecting that N500bn to be utilised in different methods in the North for the aim to be achieved.
I don’t know the method they used, but most of the northern states did not get it. My state did not get it.” Previously, she attacked her husband’s administration. She drew worldwide attention when she criticised him in an October, 2016, interview with the BBC, saying she feared his administration was veering from its mandate to the people.
She also expressed doubt that of whether she would support him if he sought re-election unless he implemented immediate changes in personnel and policies. But on the eve of this year, she constituted a campaign team for him despite her threat. The team, with about 700 members drawn from across the country, was inaugurated by President Buhari and it played key role in his re-election.