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History, Aisha Buhari And Project Nigeria By Emmanuel Umohinyang

February 13, 2020

This is in view of the fact that the office of the number one citizen wields so much influence in Nigeria, that almost everybody looks up to that office for virtually everything, same for office of state governors.


One of the biggest errors about why good governance has become almost impossible in Africa is the belief that the office of President is largely responsible for our travails as a people.

This is in view of the fact that the office of the number one citizen wields so much influence in Nigeria, that almost everybody looks up to that office for virtually everything, same for office of state governors.

No doubt, this is one of the reasons some political analysts say the office of the Nigerian President wields more power than that of his United States counterpart, based on powers conferred on these offices.

Curiously, the President alone does not wield all these powers, as some of them are delegated to other persons, to carry out in the name of the President.

In view of the huge task placed on the shoulder of the President, some of these powers are abused, without the President knowing, though the buck stops on his table as Chief Executive of state.

It was therefore not for nothing that some Nigerians have called for the scrapping of the office of First Lady in the recent past. This was because the office which was made popular by the military was seen as an institution created mainly for showmanship and lacking in benefit to the people it was supposed to serve. The major things people saw were women gorgeously dressed in Aso ebi, displaying opulence in the midst of the poor and who comes together once in a while and disappear without trace, only to show face much later.

Worst still, the office was seen as a conduit pipe for corruption, dressed in the garb of an office for the down trodden.

Some would recall that a First Lady, few years back dressed down a state governor openly for being disrespectful to her, while the President looked the other way. That was part of the abuses of that era.

So powerful was that office, that it left what it initially set out to do, to meddling in governance, a situation that made Nobel laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka, to berate the ‘Oga Madam’ of that era. It's my view and it should be accepted as such that every leader should have an eye on the verdict of history and that is why a good leader must push forward the frontier of possibilities well beyond that which he met in office. But creating a low ceiling of possibilities in performance by sticking lamely to existing standards of morality or general attainment is to take the cheap and lowly path to leadership failure. History is usually unkind to such individuals.

Indeed, the office of the First Lady ought to be more than that as it is an office that commands respect globally.

Politics, they say, is local, hence the occupier of that office must be seen as credible and somebody deserving of respect by all Nigerians, being the mother of nation.

Under the current dispensation, we cannot but give kudos, to the first lady, Hajia Aisha Buhari based on the way she has carried herself thus far.

Though she does not claim to be perfect, the fact that she has restored dignity and honour to that office cannot be overemphasised.

Some describe her as a rebel. Yes, a rebel with a cause, because this is a First Lady who does not suffer fools gladly.

Mrs Buhari, since becoming the First Lady of this great nation has been her usual self, not allowing the allure of office get into her head.

She is the unusual First Lady, ever ready to confront anything that stands in the way of fairness, equity and justice, no matter whose ox is gored.

Many Nigerians would recall that she made it abundantly clear before the last election that she would not play the role she played during her husband’s election in 2015, if certain things were not done, before the 2019 election.

That is vintage Aisha for you. This is a woman who married the president when he had long left office as a military Head of State and no glimmer of hope that he will return to Aso Rock.

She, it was, who first confirmed the existence of a cabal in the villa and has fought without looking back in the interest of justice.

Though some hack writers have tried to bring her down, she remains ever strong, ever committed to a cause she strongly believes in.

Above all, in or out of office, she has remained the President’s most reliable ally in the search for a greater, stronger and prosperous Nigeria. Through her pet project, Future assured, she has brought hope to millions of Nigerians across the federation in many ways.

The project has invested massively in health care, empowerment projects and it is on record that two-state-of-the-art facilities functional hospitals in Adamawa and Borno states are part of the contributions towards ensuring that the poorest of the poor get affordable health care.

This mega project she has done without the usual scandal associated with projects of that nature in the past. One of the things that has won Mrs Buhari global acclaim going is that she truly shares the philosophy of her husband, which has helped her greatly.

Though some Christian Association of Nigeria leaders are desperate to scandalise her husband, Aisha Buhari has always related with people irrespective of their origin and beliefs. This could be attested to by the women leader of CAN in Bauchi State, Mrs Hassana Harkila, though it is doubtful if she has ever met the first lady.

The CAN leader spoke glowingly about Mrs Buhari’s project when Future assured donated food items to more women in the state through the wife of the governor, Her Excellency, Hajia Aisha Bala Muhammed.

She said, “The impact of this kind of gesture by the Nigerian First Lady was very significant at a time like this when the poor needed it the most.”

Even in Borno State, which has suffered immensely from Boko Haram, the impact of the First Lady is being felt, even in the IDP camps, where over a thousand of displaced persons have been impacted through her Future assured project.

Been a close observer of the project, I bear witness, like millions of other Nigerians that the impact nationwide has been massive as the project has touched every nook and cranny of this country.

The icing on the cake is that even people the First Lady may never meet in her life time are daily praying for her because of the novel initiative, instead of throwing her weight around.

Indeed, many in Adamawa APC will not forget in a hurry that though the First Lady’s brother contested the party’s governorship ticket and lost, he was not foisted on the party, either by Mrs Buhari or the President.

That is Mrs. Buhari for you, a sticker for fairness, equity and justice, who would not cheat and would not want to be cheated.

Like her husband and soul mate, she does her very best to carry all along as exemplified in states controlled by the opposition PDP.

In these states, she relates with wives of governors of PDP controlled states the way she does with those controlled by the APC, as confirmed by the wife of the governor of Bauchi State, Hajia Aisha Bala Muhammed.

Are you therefore surprised that wives of governors nationwide are solidly behind Mrs Buhari, with the maturity and respect she has brought to bear on the exalted office?

As she celebrates another milestone on February 17, 2020, this is wishing our dear First Lady a happy birthday and the best of the years ahead.

Umohinyang, President, Centre for Leadership and Justice (CLJ), wrote in from Abuja