Buhariwatch: Why Aisha Buhari struck

Martins Oloja

Martins Oloja

This is the news from Aso Presidential Villa the old Lagos-Ibadan axis of the press nicknamed “Aso Rock’ in the heat of the bogeyman called June 12, 1993. Please, don’t get it twisted; a lot of arm-twisting has been going on inside the State House, Abuja. Decent sources have confirmed that some political battles have been raging beyond the Council Chambers General IBB, the then Head of State commissioned in May 1991 before he moved Nigeria’s capital from Lagos to Abuja on Thursday, December, 12, 1991.

And so covert sources within the seat of power that I have covered for more than 27 years as a reporter, writer and editor have revealed to me that there is much more to the political statement the First Lady, Aisha Buhari made to the BBC than meets the eye. Insiders have told those who cared to ask pertinent questions that Hajia Aisha Buhari “didn’t talk to the BBC to spite her husband or to make her husband too small in the eye of the public”. It is understood that Madam Aisha spoke to a foreign news media from the depth of knowledge of frustrations her husband has revealed to her about the “influence of the few members of the kitchen cabinet” who are known to have influenced a lot of politics, policies and appointments by the president so far”.

Open source intelligence, I mean publicly available sources have claimed that some remnants of the old foxes of the “Kaduna Mafia” that allegedly emasculated President Umaru Yar’adua’s government are in the mix of suspected manipulation of the president who once honestly confessed that there was a limit to what he could do at 72…

Though sources have mentioned that some of the president’s men ‘in the dock’ include Babagana Kingibe who was earlier fingered in the politics of nominating career ambassadors without recourse to the ministry of foreign affairs; General Babagana Monguno, National Security Adviser (NSA); the Chief of Staff to the President, Alhaji Abba Kyari; Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Babachir David Lawal and the Big Cahuna, Alhaji Mamman Daura, earlier identified by Dr Junaid Mohammed as the the man who makes the final decision. Besides, an open source earlier revealed that one Hajia Hajo Sani, former Minister of Women Affairs, who hails from Adamawa state was one of the powers unleashed on the First Lady as her Special Assistant to prevent her from exploding the way she just did.
In a surprise move, she signaled to her husband that she might not back him at the next election unless he shook up his government.

In the controversial BBC interview, Mrs. Buhari suggested THAT her husband’s government had been hijacked by only a “few people”, who were behind presidential appointments, among other decisions.

She revealed that the president did not know most of the officials he had appointed. Specifically, in the interview with Naziru Mikailu from BBC Hausa, Mrs Buhari said: “The president does not know 45 out of 50 of the people he appointed and I don’t know them either, despite being his wife of 27 years.”

And it is not for trite reasons therefore that most newspaper editorials have condemned presidential appointments so far as “parochial” as the president’s zone has taken more than 85% of notable public sector jobs so far.

And the president, who was on a visit to Germany when the interview was aired, responded by saying his wife belonged in his kitchen.
Standing alongside German Chancellor Angela Merkel at a news conference, the president laughed off his wife’s accusations.

“I don’t know which party my wife belongs to, but she belongs to my kitchen and my living room and the other room,” he said.
Mr Buhari added that having run for president three times and having succeeded the fourth, he could “claim superior knowledge over her”.

The influence ‘of a few people’ in the mix is the crux of the matter that has generated heated debate everywhere. This development has, in fact, fuelled agitation for true federalism by elements from the Middle Belt and the entire southern states with three distinct regions. President Buhari was sworn in on May 29, 2015 with a promise to tackle corruption and nepotism that allegedly marked the last administration. But we learned that he has been disturbed of late as commentators have been saying that what he has done about corruption has been dismissed as tokenism. Besides, people at public functions are saying he has been fighting corrupt people instead of fighting corruption.

What is more, the president’s wife lamented that people who did not share the vision of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) were now appointed to top posts because of the influence a “few people” wield. The ruling Party’s officials, especially from the South, have hailed her position. This is her complaint:

“Some people are sitting down in their homes folding their arms only for them to be called to come and head an agency or a ministerial position”.
Though the First Lady’s decision to go public with her concerns has shocked many people, insiders have said that the very educated and sociable First Lady “got enough intelligence about the level of discontent with the president’s leadership”.

It will be recalled that Aisha who campaigned widely for her husband in last year’s election in Nigeria, organising town hall meetings with women’s groups and youth organisations across the country, already has many graduates in the house including a lawyer. Two of her children just graduated from a British University. It was learned at the weekend that her daughters who have had a good network of friends across the country have also been discussing with their mother about their dad as Nigeria’s president. They were at the United Nations Assembly with their mother recently.
Aisha Buhari was born Aisha Halilu, on 17th February 1971, in Adamawa state..

When Aisha got married to Muhammadu Buhari on 2nd December 1989, she had only a secondary school leaving certificate. But General Buhari has invested so much in her to the extent that she has bagged a Master’s degree in International Affairs & Strategic Studies from the Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna. She had earlier bagged a B.Sc in Public Administration from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.
She is also credited with a Diploma in Beauty Therapy from the Carlton Institute of Beauty Therapy, Windsor, United Kingdom; Post-graduate Diploma in Cosmetology and Beauty from Academy Esthetique Beauty Institute of France.
While Buhari was pursuing a political career, she was encouraged to be enterprising. She founded Hanzy Spa and Hanzy Beauty Institute in Kaduna.
She just published a book titled Essentials of Beauty Therapy: A Complete Guide for Beauty Specialists”.

Sources also confirmed that President Buhari was just being modest when he said, “my wife belongs in the kitchen, the living room and the other room” in Germany while responding to the wife’s BBC’s interview. The taciturn General knew his wife was made of the stuff she displayed in the political interview, insiders have confirmed. Some ignorant or mischievous critics from the North have launched some virulent attacks on the First Lady even as some have claimed that they were sure she would face the music for being uncultured and rude to the husband and for exposing the ruling party to ridicule. Behold, I am told that, that claim is untrue as the wife only transmitted what she picked up from the palace about the state of siege, which other sources say will soon be over.

Those who know about the arm-twisting that led to appointments of so many non-party people into various positions have confirmed to us that President Buhari has been quite unhappy with two critical members of the presidential bureaucracy, notably, the Secretary to the Government, Mr. Lawal Babachir, a very close friend of the president who never had any cognate experience in the public sector. It was said that the man from Adamawa who used to be courageous in advising the president before assuming office as SGF, is said to have abandoned the ideals that endeared him to the president. The second officer is the Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari who has been accused of involvement in some deals that have been embarrassing to the president. One of such deals has had to do with a telecommunications company that was fined by a regulator. The big player was said to have used the CoS-P’s office to secure some reliefs. The story has not been denied. We understand, however, that Abba Kyari, generally believed to be very close to the Big Cahuna, Daura has been fingered too in a series of appointments that have caused disaffection in the polity. One source noted to me at the weekend, “Oga Abba Kyari is not an innocent bystander, after all. He is a quiet but smooth operator” .

Those who know how the inner circle of the state house works whispered to this writer that “when Madam Aisha was talking about her husband’s government that had been hijacked by only a ‘few people’, who were behind presidential appointments, among other decisions, she actually had three men in mind: Mamman Daura, Abba Kyari (Chief of Staff) and Babachir, David Lawal, (SGF). Daura works behind the scene but he is said to be a supreme authority inside Aso Villa. He is said to be very influential. It was learn that she did not invent the story she told the BBC.
The mother of four educated daughters and a son has kept a low profile at the start of the administration. She confined herself to her work with women and helping victims of the Boko Haram conflict in the north-east, her region.

I learned that contrary to claims in some quarters, “the president did not consider the interview a significant blow because he wants to consider legacy projects but the people around him are not helpful. Because he does not know to many people, Madam Aisha has been feeling the heat of the hijack of machinery of government by a small group of individuals”.

Insiders including the First Lady and the educated children, among others are aware that “a large number of people have been appointed because of their relationship with the powerful clique one way or the other.

Mrs. Buhari encouraged herself to speak out in an effort to end those practices so that party loyalists who contributed to the husband’s election victory could benefit from their efforts in 2015.

Some of her critics have said that she was angry only because she could not convince the president to appoint more of her own people. However, as insiders revealed to this inquirer, as the closest person to the president, “she had indeed exhausted all avenues to deal with the cabal in the house before ‘criticizing’ him in the media”.

Sooner than later, you will see that the cabal will be dealt with because that was why she struck at the right time.

Inside Stuff Grammar School:
If today is the first time of worshipping with us in this church, can you stand up to be recognized? (Wrong)
If today is the first time you have worshipped with us in this church, can you stand up to be recognized? (Correct)

  • Abie A Dr Abison

    Teacher, you are wrong, except the question is asked after the end of the worship service; if within the service, it is correct to say, “if this is the first time that you are worshipping with us.”

    • SYKofIJ

      I rather think it should be “if this is the first time you’d worship with us…”

  • Ogom

    This writer is unable to construct simple, coherent sentences. Does Guardian not have an editor who vets these opinion pieces??

    • Joseph

      Be specific please

      • Ogom

        The guy is rambling like a market woman, unable to distil the latest gossip into any concrete ideas worth reading.

        There ought to be a minimum standard met before such articles are put out for public consumption.