It must take more than a stroke of luck and tremendous goodwill for none of the mud thrown at Mrs Aisha Buhari, wife of the President, not to stick. Only an impeccable character anchored on sound moral value would place someone with her position above the reach of the hands eagerly clutching to tear her down.
Mrs Buhari’s position opens her to attacks, it is to be expected. The others before her, who used the title of “First Lady” anyway, were easily sucked in by the leeches of our political sphere. They were drawn into the circle of unbridled acquisition by these same persons who later used that same fact as the shackles that ensured compliance from women who had direct access to the leaders of Africa’s most populous nation. What followed for each of these wives were compromised litanies of stories that made Presidents look bad using wives as their leverage.
For a woman whose husband rode into power on the strength of his abhorrence of corruption, the demand for Mrs Buhari to be above board was unequivocal. Thankfully, she has not disappointed since Mr President entered office. While this should be something that should be commended, it only made those who are desperate to see her falter intensify and proliferate the traps they are setting for the woman.
They actually didn’t give Mrs Buhari any breather, as the first salvo was fired right from the day of inauguration. The then N25,750 Cartier watch she wore to stand by her husband at the event was trumpeted as being worth N10million. The hullaballoo was apparently a barb aimed at her husband, Mr President’s person in the attempt to accuse him of double standard and discredit the austere lifestyle that endeared him to Nigerians. Painfully, the plot to continually attempt discredit President Muhammadu Buhari’s person and government has not stopped but has only taken on a stridency that is as pedestal as it is illogical.
Since the wrist watch hubbub, all other attempts made to raise doubts about the wife of the President have commonalities. They are usually targeted at raising dissent in the populace with the consequence that the stories whipped up to draw public ire against her are often not researched, which makes them defy logic and common sense. The stories are usually anchored by groups that fizzle out ,once their so call facts fall flat upon the slightest interrogation. Such campaign of calumny mostly ran in the online media where political opponents that are still smarting can hide behind anonymity to spew bile.
The most recent being the lame bid to accuse her of brokering a N1.5billion bribe for members of the Kogi State Election Petition Tribunal. There is no point dissecting the baseless allegation since its shallowness is self evident. What it proved was that detractors continue to see Mr President’s family as the point to attack in the plot to weaken the anti-corruption fight.
However, instead of being the weak link that opponents expected, Mrs Buhari has proven that “Behind every successful man, there is a strong, wise and hardworking woman.” For instance she has been source of succour to Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) from the Boko Haram crisis with donation of relief materials to ease their hardship. (Even the good gesture of donations was the subject of a twisted misinformation campaign). Her goodwill extends also to orphanages where she has given the sense of belonging. Beyond distributing relief materials, Mrs Buhari has taken the additional steps to ensure her assistance to IDPs is sustained. Her passion for Boko Haram victims is such that she donated the proceeds of the launch of her book, “Essentials of Beauty Therapy” to parents of the abducted Chibok girls and murdered Buni Yadi boys.
Mrs Buhari’s involvement in healthcare has proven useful through the ‘Future Assured Initiative’ in Nassarawa state that caters for women and children with various health challenges. She has equally done advocacy by canvassing collective action on tuberculosis.
When it comes to wives of presidents, Nigeria has never had it this good. Here is a wife of the President that is making impacts without being intrusive in the national political space. This is why those who think using Mr President’s spouse as an attack spot must have a rethink. True, they are fighting a lost battle but it is more than that. While there is no constitutional provision for Mrs Buhari’s role, as was the case with her predecessor, there is nevertheless the need to accord her all the respect befitting the wife of our number one citizen. More than her predecessors, she has brought class to being the spouse of the President and she has proven that it is possible to be in that lofty height and still be in touch with the everyday woman.
This is the Mrs Buhari I see and not the victim of political machinations that some want her to be. Like an eagle, she soars above the storm that opponents stir up for her. Apparently, all efforts to intimidate, compromise or demonise her only make her excel better.
Angula is an Oil and Gas expert based in the United Kingdom