Why First Lady Aisha Buhari is against husband’s political ambitions

For daring to publicly criticize the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, First Lady Aisha Buhari has learnt one painful lesson: that a divided family cannot stand. 

Aisha will, for now, accept her role as a full time housewife until a public apology is tendered with convincing action.

Image: President Muhammadu Buhari.

It is very easy to destroy than to build. Ask former US President Bill Clinton or his wife Hillary about this and you will agree with me that fraud, nepotism or extra-marital affairs isn’t enough to make a president’s wife disrespect him in public.

In no way is this article condoning feebleness from a president who should be up and doing.

Take away misogyny or feminism from this circumstance and see it as what it is, that Nigerians have respect for something called “culture and tradition”.

Mrs Buhari’s latest interview with BBC during which she portrayed the president of Africa’s most populous country as “clueless”, has aroused mixed opinions around the world.

“His wife’s decision to go public with her concerns will shock many people, but it shows the level of discontent with the president’s leadership,” Naziru Mikailu [BBC’s official in Abuja] said.

Politicoscope described her interview as “representing political opportunities to either self-glorify as prophets or to condemn the president for his political choices”.

For others the interview looks like a betrayal of a husband by his wife. And for the misogynists of all shades, the interview represents an abomination. However, irrespective of the judgment made of the interview, the freedom and frankness with which Mrs. Buhari fielded the questions surprised everyone as they do not match our mental representation of the President – Politicoscope.

Though it is arguable that not every male qualifies as a man, there’s no doubt that being in charge of Africa’s biggest democracy qualifies president Muhammadu Buhari as an alpha male.

Every government has its peculiar challenges but never a war between the president and first lady.

As a politician and president of the most diverse country in the world, the last picture Mr Buhari wants you to see is that of a leader who has lost respect and loyalty from his wife.

The retired Major General is known by friends and foes as a no-nonsense soldier. First Lady Aisha knows even better. But whatever motivated her decision to go public with her feelings, explains the truth that there’s a lot going on behind closed doors. Little wonder nothing seem to be working as expected in the country, recently.

Blaming president Buhari for Nigeria’s woes would be wrong. The man is fighting against corrupt citizens, political enemies, militants, friends and even his beloved wife. “A man whose house is on fire cannot be chasing rats.”

Nigeria has seen the worst of economic degradation, political uprisings, and devastating famine since the All Progressives Congress representative took over office following a PDP’s disappointing loss in the March 2015 general elections. He gave us hope to cheer on but now we know why things have fallen apart.

The 73-year-old president is silently crying for our dear country and jolting his brains day and night, looking for an effective rescue path. The last thing he needed was a nagging wife whose selfish political ambition supersedes that of an entire nation.

Nigerian first lady Aisha Buhari suggested that she might not back her husband’s potential re-election in 2019 if he didn’t shake up his government. Without naming names, she said a whole host of people in senior ministerial posts didn’t share her husband’s values or the vision of the ruling party. The first lady’s admission reinforces accusations made by critics that Buhari’s government has been hijacked by a cabal operating behind the scenes – The Washington Post.

“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,” she said, according to a BBC report. “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.”

Would Mrs Aisha have acted differently is the president had approved her own candidates for political offices?

Mr President who was in Germany at the time, sitting near German Chancellor Angela Merkel at a news conference, could only laugh off the pain by saying, “I don’t know which party my wife belongs to, but she belongs to my kitchen and my living room and the other room”.

The president was angered by his wife’s courage to criticize him in public and had to quickly remind her, also in public, that she’s an “African woman” whose role should be in “the kitchen”. That is an unacceptable reaction for many critics who argue that a man should exert self control in the face of such provocations.

In addition, Mr president must have forgotten that the word “African woman” is outdated in this 21st century. 

It is understandable that we now we live in a modern society where “gender equality” is fighting tooth and nail with “tradition” but there are better ways for couples to settle their differences.

However, I’d like to ask if Muslim [as a religion] has succumbed to “politics” and “modernization”. By permitting a wife to criticize his husband in public.

The truth of the matter is, in Aisha’s comments, she never saw herself as a “religious housewife” or an “African woman”. She spoke from the standpoint of a politician and activist who has love for her country.

On the names of those who hijacked Mr President’s government, Mrs Buhari refused to call names. She said: “You will know them if you watch television.”

Mrs Buhari claims she’s a respectful wife though many people will be thinking otherwise right now. She said: “That is left for the people to decide.”

Mrs Buhari, 45, also said she’s not sure if she’ll be casting her vote for the incumbent president come 2019 presidential election.

“He is yet to tell me but I have decided as his wife, that if things continue like this up to 2019, I will not go out and campaign again and ask any woman to vote like I did before. I will never do it again.”