… First Lady wants President’s men sacked
…Is Aisha Buhari under investigation?
Friday afternoon, the nation was taken unawares by the exclusive interview granted by the First Lady, Aisha Buhari, to BBC Hausa Service on diverse issues affecting the nation, her husband’s ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, and the 2019 presidential election.
Her reactions to the rather sensitive questions asked her opened the floodgate of insinuations, interpretations and explanations as to what could be happening inside Aso Rock Presidential Villa. But while most Nigerians were yet to be fully acquainted with the development, there was another shocker.
The president reportedly gave his position on the wife’s interview suggesting that she had no business in governance and whatever fallouts therefrom. The resultant disconnect gave rise to the conclusions that all may not be well with the first family.
For starters, the First Lady had told BBC that the president did not know most of the top officials he had appointed.
She said: “The President does not know 45 out of 50, for example, of the people he appointed and I don’t know them either, despite being his wife of 27 years.
“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.”
In the BBC interview, Aisha refused to name those who had “hijacked the government,” saying: “You will know them if you watch television.”
On whether the President is in charge, she said: “That is left for the people to decide.”
Responding to a question on the probability of her husband contesting for second term in 2019, Aisha Buhari said he had not told her whether he would contest the 2019 election. But there was a caveat.
“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.”
Reacting to the BBC interview with his wife where she questioned his leadership style and appointments he has made so far, Buhari, who is currently on a state visit to Germany during a joint press briefing with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, declared that he has much more political experience than his wife.
When he was asked to react to his wife’s BBC interview, he laughed it off 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.”
Buhari said that having run for president three times and having succeeded the fourth, he could “claim superior knowledge over her”.
“So I claim superior knowledge over her and the rest of the opposition because in the end I have succeeded.
“It’s not easy to satisfy the whole Nigerian opposition parties or to participate in the government.”
The discomforting exchange of words between the President and his wife in the opinion of observers deepened the gulf of crisis in the party even as it increased the worries in the land in need of urgent healing.
The first of such worries came from the APC whose acting spokesman, Timi Frank had been in the vanguard of many questioning the appointments so far made by the president into his cabinet and as his key aides.
Also reacting to the outburst of the First Lady, the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, said spoke the mind of millions of Nigerians during the BBC interview.
The APC acting national publicity secretary, Timi Frank, said Aisha deserves the commendation of all Nigerians for speaking their minds.
“I think Mrs Buhari deserves commendation because she is actually speaking the minds of not only the party members but Nigerians,” he said.
“What Mrs Buhari has said is not different from what some of us have been saying that it is high time the President shake-up his cabinet and bring in people who understand the manifestoes of the party and could help the party deliver on its change mantra, especially, the economy of the country needs an urgent attention.
“Some of our leaders like the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, have made this same observation in the past and I think they meant well for the administration and the country. I will also join them in appealing to the president to do the needful.
“Nigerian women in politics and other wives of the president in the world have a lot to learn from what Mrs. Buhari has done,” he added.
Frank called on President Buhari to act fast and correct some of the abnormalities currently threatening the existence of the APC.
Well ahead the constitution of his cabinet, not a few Nigerians were taken aback by the first few appointments made by the president. Their worries bothered around the persons, their respective persona and suitability for the job.
The first shocker was the fact of the 34 key appointments 27 were from the North, and even then they were mostly from the North West.
“It was a case of nepotism, tribalism or religion. We were worried about the appointment of either his Daura relatives, his school mates or close fellow northerners and Muslims. Now today, look at every big, cash-spinning and sensitive beat, he has assigned them all there.
Where that is not the case, he would appoint somebody from the south and later place a northerner to superintend over the southerner. Check NNPC.”
According to sources, who preferred confidentiality, Aisha had been worried about her husband’s political career and wanted him to make a success of it. Especially, having contested for the office of President on two previous elections and lost, his eventual win signposted confidence of the electorate in him and hid unique anti-corruption manifesto.
“She had always wanted him to make the difference in governance. She swears to the president’s courage and wherewithal to confront the corruption that had eaten too deep into Nigeria’s treasury causing alarming poverty in the land. She knew that President Buhari’s name would be written in gold at the end of it all. But she was miffed that the caliber of his appointees would mess up this need,” retorted one of the sources.
There were occasions too that Aisha had had to talk some APC leaders confidentially to prevail on her husband to do the needful to no avail, quipped another presidency source.
“There were times the First Lady applauded efforts by the administration to recovered looted monies from corrupt politicians and public officers. But she wanted things to move fast because before you know it, politicians will be talking of 2019. But she feared that the pace of governance was slow and there is too much lip service being paid to the cardinal objectives of the administration. I think she granted the interview out of frustration,” the next source said.
Is Aisha under probe?
There were no clear answers to this question which was thrown up in close circles around the country at press time. Hitherto, some sources told Nigerian Pilot that given the First Lady’s penchant for flamboyance, she may have run into troubled waters with the anti-corruption focus of the administration headed by her husband.
First, they mentioned the adverse media reports that followed the wristwatch she wore to a global event some time ago which many considered too expensive for the wife of the president crusading against inexplicable wealth.
There are also alleged acquisition of more wealth by the First Lady in terms of landed property and related wealth.
Against the foregoing background, many now allege that the president may have directed the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC to investigate her source(s) of wealth. They conclude that she may have gotten wind of the development hence she chose to draw the first blood.
“You know, attack is the best form of deface,” said another presidency source who added that Aisha may have played that card to draw sympathy from Nigerians especially the opposition who would then regard any probe of her wealth as vindictive.
At press time last night, there were strong fears that the ripple effects of the altercation within the first couple would reverberate in the party that is already being torn apart by crisis of varying interests.
At the last count, leaders of the party have been at war among themselves. While national leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu sees nothing good in the leadership of national chairman, John Odigie-Oyegun, its acting spokesman, Timi Frank shares same view even as he believes his successor and current Communicationsminister; Lai Mohammed does not have the interest of the party at heart.
For now, the sneeze from Buhari’s house has the potentials to infect the ruling party with disintegration fever unless something is done fast.