Nigeria’s First Family And The War Within
By Gidado Yushau Shuaib
If a President cannot address a family problem before it goes public, how can he address the herculean task of governance and nation-building? This has been my concern since the rumour mongers went to town with marriage speculation in the Presidency.
Frankly speaking, the media handlers of President Muhammadu Buhari did not manage the rumour on his purported wedding plan with his Humanitarian Affairs Minister, Sadiya Umar Farouq.
Before the return of the First Lady, Aisha Buhari to Nigeria, various social media platforms were flooded with congratulatory messages and purported pre-wedding pictures of the President and his minister. The captivating images of the couple, set tongues wagging on what could be the fate of the First Lady, Mrs Aisha Buhari who was then abroad.
Some media reports gossiped that the First Lady had a running battle with her husband on the activities of the overbearing influence of the so-called Cabals who are alleged to be calling the shots in the Villa and the Presidency.
As a matter of fact, Aisha’s long stay for more than two months in Saudi Arabia and London, further fuelled the speculation that she must have been side-lined in the scheme of things in her husband’s government which she played prominent roles to its electoral successes.
Most of state and diplomatic functions, she was invited to grace, her Senior Special Assistant, Dr Hajo Sani, performed the roles on her behalf especially at the UN High-Level Meeting on Tuberculosis, at the Global Empowerment Movement and at the Organization of African First Ladies for Development (OAFLAD) meeting in New York.
However, in an attempt to clear the air and debunk all speculations on the absence of the first lady, her Director of Information, Mr Suleiman Haruna, said the President’s wife has the freedom to travel to wherever she wanted, as a free citizen.
Haruna said, Aisha as a free Nigerian, who is not a government official, could travel for private engagements both within and outside the country, adding that the reasons for such trips must not be tied to “needless speculation or rumours.”
In a dramatic twist, on her return to Nigeria, Aisha triggered a controversy in an interview she granted the BBC when she commented on the purported marriage arrangement.
When asked about the rumour, she said: “I’m not the one who was getting married. It was the president. So, you should have asked him whether it is true or not. But the person who was told the president will marry her, the people that told her the president will marry her, she never thought the wedding will not hold, because she waited and when it never held she came out to dispute it.”
The Aisha’s comment merely insinuate that members of the cabal could be behind the rumoured marriage.
In an immediate reaction to the First Lady’s interview, Fatima Abdulmutallab, the daughter of Buhari’s nephew, Mamman Daura, absolved her family from the marriage saga.
Fatima whose father was fingered as allegedly being the brain behind the plan for the marriage, said: “Wallahi, it is a lie. It is all part of what I am saying about the false allegations against our father. He is not even aware of the rumours about the marriage issue because he doesn’t use the social media.
“They (Buhari and Daura) are both monogamous. Both my dad and the president practice monogamy. They are all lies aimed at blackmailing him. They keep falsely accusing him. It does not tally with reason,” she said.
Another altercation within the First Family are allegations and counter-allegations over allocations of rooms in the Aso Villa to extended family members. Disturbed by the allegations, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) asked the National Assembly to investigate and sanction President Buhari for assigning official facilities in the Presidential villa to unauthorised persons that have no official roles in governance.
The Party also described the fight between the First Lady, Aisha Buhari and the President’s cousins, over rooms in the Presidential villa, as distasteful, saying the development further underlined the managerial ineptitude and leadership failures of the Buhari Presidency.
In view of the melodrama, some concerned citizens continue to ask the following questions: What is the current relationship between the President and his wife? Are extended family involved in the fracas? What are the levels of their involvements? Could the seeming division within the First Family affect governance? Is the crisis a deliberate ploy for distractions to achieve some ulterior motives?
In a country where rumours have a way of shaping future events, one would have expected an official statement to clear the air on all these worrisome developments.
My take in all these, is the fact that the President has a right to his personal life, but not at the nation’s expenses when the country is yet to resolve national maladies including rampant cases of kidnapping, armed banditry, terrorism, economic challenges and incessant strike of labour and academic staffs.
Rather than washing their dirty linens in the public, the family members of President Buhari should resolve their domestic squabbles within the confine of their homes without inundating Nigerians with tales akin to reality show of Big Brother.
Gidado Yushau Shuaib, editor of Youths Digest & The News Digest, can be reached on [email protected]