This is bad news: the malcontents in the State House that can’t abide President Muhammadu Buhari are not all rats. A member of his cabinet also wants to see his back.
Barely two weeks after the rodents attempted to evict him from office, Aisha Al-Hassan, Buhari’s minister of women affairs, suggested that she would have gladly joined the animal coup if she had the chance. In a most embarrassing vote of no confidence, Al-Hassan publicly declared her support for the groundwork of a campaign to sack her boss. She said she would back former VP Atiku Abubakar’s bid for president rather than Buhari’s re-election.
The video clip of her remarks during an homage to Atiku trended on Nigerian Twitter as soon as it was leaked. It was grainy and seemed to be the amateurish work of a blackmailer. But Mama Taraba established its authenticity when she acknowledged that the recording captured a real-life event in which she pledged her support for Atiku.
In a BBC Hausa interview, Mama Taraba affirmed her ‘respect’ for Buhari but reiterated that she was ready to work for his defeat. Atiku was her benefactor and godfather, and she cannot but choose him over Buhari.
For starters, Mama Taraba is a fifth columnist possessed of the kind of shamelessness that is unexplainable because it is so unimaginable. The lady is not just content to maintain her engagement in an administration she doesn’t believe in. She also has the audacity to announce that she loathes the president to whom she owes her portfolio!
Mama Taraba neither believes in the person of Buhari nor in his policies. But she would not vote with her feet. She hangs on. She would rather continue to enjoy the perks of her office than leaving the administration.
It’s mind-boggling that the lawyer, former court registrar, and senator, would openly subscribe to an inchoate rival campaign while clinging to her ministerial seat in the Buhari administration. This goes to show that she is poor in honor and decency. She steers the mind to conceive the image of a cheap cheat straddling two men: sticking with this man for the present pleasure, and gushing over the other man for the next bliss.
Mama Taraba deserves an urgent dismissal. Since she lacks the civility to resign, Buhari should push her to the exit door. She is his worst ministerial pick and one of the reasons his government is unimpressive.
Mama Taraba is a much more mediocre minister than Buhari is an underwhelming president. She represents a redundancy the size of her ineptitude. Since she was made a minister over two years ago, she has been unable to associate her name with any significant act.
When she managed to make news last year, it was by default. Ill-health forced her to go on medical exile. The press probed her prolonged stay overseas and that’s how unmerited relevance was thrust on her.
Mama Taraba is the most worthless minister in the Buhari presidency. It is ironic that she is actively canvassing for the replacement of her boss when the need to replace her very self is more urgent. It is ludicrous that she is blind to her dispensability but sees his dispensability. It’s sad that she insists on keeping the job he gave her while aligning herself with efforts to vote him out of office.
Interestingly, Mama Taraba indicated that her support for Atiku’s candidacy was based on her indebtedness to him. She didn’t deign to suggest that he would make a better president than Buhari. All she could say was that Atiku must rule Nigeria because she found her a generous godfather.
That’s the portrait of the psychology of the Nigerian politician. They don’t care about the suitability of the candidate. They are only interested in their own man winning the election. Their concern is the riches they are sure to accumulate when they become part of the cabal in Aso Rock.
On the other hand, Mama Taraba’s defection is a warning to President Buhari. He is not as loved as he thinks, even within his inner circle. It’s a heads-up that if he defied his age, shaky health, and poor record of performance to stand for re-election, he would be given a shellacking.
Buhari has exacerbated the conditions that are now inflaming irredentist passion across Nigeria. He ‘pacifies’ the Niger Delta like a colonialist so that petrodollars can flow from the South-South. He forgives the terrorism of the Fulani herdsmen because they are his kinsmen. He ‘crushes’ pro-Biafra activists because he reached an agreement with Ojukwu on the question of Nigeria’s unity. He forecloses the possibility of restructuring Nigeria to make it a fairer Federation because he wants the framework that makes the North entitled to the lion share of Nigerian wealth to endure.
He has declared the Shiites enemies. He has rationalized their massacre and forced disappearances. He continues to hold their leader, Ibrahim El-Zakzakky, in captivity…in spite of a court ruling.
On the economic front, Buhari has pushed Nigerians to the furthest edge of suffering. He aggravated a crisis created by Goodluck Jonathan’s regime of banditry. He made misery abundant for the people and stampeded companies out of Nigeria.
His fight against Boko Haram has yet to deliver a clear victory. The terrorists are still a deadly fighting force. They continue to kill and maim in dozens long after he declared them ‘’technically defeated’’.
His war against corruption has largely succeeded in boring Nigerians with reports of the sum of the loots traced to certain politically exposed persons. A civil war in his kitchen cabinet has hindered his anti-graft battle from populating the prisons with the corrupt convicts. Also, the ordinary Nigerian has yet to be saved from the quotidian bribery that dogs their existence. They are still compelled to spend a sizeable part of their earnings on bribes, in the streets and in offices.
Candidate Buhari inspired optimism on his fourth run for the presidency. In an office, he has spread dejection over the people. And they are dying to boot him out, not to prolong their misery.
Before Aisha Al-Hassan vowed to work against Buhari in 2019, the other Aisha in his life, his wife, had threatened that ‘’if things continue like this, I am not going to be part of any (re-election) movement.’’ Mrs. Buhari was frustrated that her husband was being manipulated by ‘’a few people,’’ people he appointed into sensitive positions though he didn’t know them.
Buhari dismissed his wife’s complaint with a sexist wave of a hand. He said there was no value in her words. He bragged that he ‘’could claim superior knowledge over her’’. She belonged in his kitchen.
President Buhari is likely to scoff at the warning of this second Aisha in his life. Just as he missed the message in his wife’s groan last year October, Buhari may trivialize Mama Taraba's pledge of allegiance to Atiku. His pride may keep him from appreciating that another Aisha has just presented to him the gift he neglected to receive from his wife.
The Aishas in Buhari’s life love him. They have given him candor, the present a president rarely receives from his intimates. He is free to reject the gift.