It appears Mrs. Aisha Buhari has suddenly made history with her explosive and revealing BBC interview. Many Nigerians applaud her courage and audacity probably as the very first First Lady to fearlessly and openly tackle her husband and a sitting democratically elected President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria on sensitive issues bothering on governance. Aisha had in a recent interview granted to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) Hasusa Service, openly carpeted her husband for largely appointing wrong and unknown persons into his government. She equally alleged that her husband's government had been hijacked by a cabal. In all, Aisha appears unhappy and frustrated with things she sees happening around her husband and the CHANGE government at the centre.
Could it be that Aisha's explode was ostentatiously triggered off for basically lacking the understanding of her husband's style of politics and governance? Yes, it could be that as a teenager when her husband as a young military officer forcefully seized power and ruled as a junta, she was neither exposed nor well positioned in marriage to garnering better knowledge of his political methodology and administrative style as to effectively and distinctively make comparison with regards to events of today.
President Buhari married Aisha after his military leadership. That marriage today exposed her with certain privileges and knowledge of some of her husband’s official actions and probably inactions in the course of discharging his constitutional duties as President and Commander-in-Chief. Her marital status, however, does not confer her with the powers of the legislature nor opposition in Nigeria. She is simply the wife of Mr. President.
With 27 years already spent with Buhari, Aisha ought to have respectfully evolved an acceptable mode of communication with her husband. She would have activated and strictly limited herself to that in-house channel as whatever opinion formed about the official conduct of her husband are rarely not enforceable if not accepted. If before granting the interview she communicated or engaged the husband on the perceived excesses of the so-called cabal and the 'Aso Rock hijackers’ and President Buhari did nothing, her next action as a cultured and responsible wife could have been to zip-up her month.
Aisha via her controversial BBC interview has consciously or unconsciously supplied concrete and verifiable information to the door-step of the loquacious opposition to further feast and possibly distract her husband who is conspicuously unsettled amidst the nation’s plaguing economic woes. She merely suggested to the world that her husband is incompetent and practically not the driver of the CHANGE government. Beyond that, she showed disrespect and growing appetite to assume the role of calling the shot.
Could it be that Aisha may have understudied the negative exploits and enormous powers wielded by Turai Yar’Adua, Patience Jonathan and other power-seeking past First Ladies when they were in her present position? Or, could it be that she consciously or unconsciously succumbed to those power-seekers pushing her to assume tougher roles aside her husband's prescribed kitchen and bedroom services in the villa? What Aisha appears to have forgotten is that every man has a style. Buhari is obviously that no-nonsense 'Retired General' habitually trained to define and assign roles. For him, nobody crosses his/her boundary. In the days of his campaigns, President Buhari pointedly dismissed the position of First Lady which Aisha herself is aware of. That very principled stance of Mr. President could have ordinarily consoled Aisha and ultimately guide her to play the power game within her limits.
Today, while the opposition are hailing Aisha for her misguided BBC outburst, she may have ended up taking costly action that may inflict a serious crack in her marriage and probably erode the cardinal trust and confidence that bind her 27-year old union with President Buhari. That BBC interview may be dangerously colored with different interpretations that have the potency of igniting discontent and hatred in Buhari’s family. It may also create an opportunity for some overzealous aides and close associates to ask for Aisha's head. What if they tell the President that opposition has infiltrated and hijacked his wife? Yes, anything can happen. They may even hide under ‘security’ or any other guise to prescribe stringent treatments for Buhari against Aisha. What happens if they declare her a ‘security risk’ in the villa?
With the seemingly humorous response to the said interview in far away Germany, President Buhari ventilated his mind and simply redefined Aisha’s role to the world. That is a typical African man. The presence of Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, who incidentally is also a woman, couldn’t prevent President Buhari to rightfully place Aisha with her roles within the confines of marriage. Several interpretations to President Buhari’s response especially from the opposition are beginning to pour from all corners apparently to score cheap political gains and erroneously unmask him as one that harbours no regard for the women folk. That’s mere politics that can’t deduct the sacred facts conveyed in Mr. President’s tacit response. Those crying more that the bereaved are at liberty to tell the world where else they think Aisha rightfully belongs. For President Buhari, ‘Aisha belongs to the kitchen, sitting room and other rooms.’
It is rather ridiculous that some gullible Nigerians have acquired the habits of politicising everything including a situation the wife of Mr. President overstepped her bound. Even the Nigerian men who ordinarily abhors bringing their wives close to certain family discussions are today clapping for Aisha for incompetently dabbling into the affairs of governance. Those celebrating Aisha's outburst include those that never sought the opinion of their wives on sensitive but important issues. Today, they are making merriment of Aisha’s BBC interview, forgetting that Aisha is simply the wife of Mr. President, a status she loses should President Buhari offload her.
With a flashback to Jonathan’s era, it is equally surprising that many Nigerians carpeted the immediate past president and accused him of giving unmerited and unconstitutional powers to his wife, Patience Jonathan. They accused Jonathan of lousiness and derogatorily christened him a ‘woman president’. Till date, many Nigerians still believe that ‘Mama Peace’ called the shot in the villa. They believed that she was behind many sensitive appointments and some far-reaching decisions taken during Jonathan days. Many abused and hated Jonathan based on that very notion. That energised President Buhari's campaign as he openly kicked against the office of the First Lady which largely endeared him to many Nigerians who hitherto detested the so-called Jonathan’s ‘woman’ presidency.
Therefore, it is pertinent to state without mincing words that Aisha Buhari goofed with that her infamous BBC interview. Arguably, she lacks the constitutional and moral right to publicly query the actions and inactions of her husband and President and Commander-in-Chief of Nigeria on his official engagements in the media. She has lowered her ever rising reputation and grossly showed disrespect to the president and the nation.
President Buhari may have his problems. Agreed, that’s why he must pay the price of his failures and disappointments. After all, he made Nigerians believed he had solutions to their socio-economic problems. But Nigerians still owe him prayers hence they stand to bear the devastating effects of his poor performance and not Aisha who comfortably lives in affluence courtesy of her husband’s presidency. If President Buhari, after contesting for three consecutive times before his election allows the so-called cabal to hijack his CHANGE government, so be it.
•Ebere Uzoukwa, a media and Public Relations consultant writes from Owerri. Photo shows President Buhari and wife Aisha.