When Gen. Muhammadu Buhari was overthrown in a bloodless palace coup in 1985 mounted by the then Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, the Daura-born lanky man ruling Nigeria then with the late Brig-Gen. Tunde Idiagbon was subsequently locked up incommunicado in Benin City for more than three years. And when eventually he has released his first former wife, Hajia Safinatu Yusuf, was sent packing, divorced! One thing led to another and allegations of infidelity or conjugal disloyalty flew around leading to the ‘death’ of the union blessed with children. IBB and his boys, glad that an ‘enemy’ who stood on their way to corrupt enrichment and ‘yan-daudu’ phenomenon in the military had been vanquished, contributed, according to some reports, to the collapse of the marriage. Enter Aisha, a combination of brain and beauty from Adamawa state.
Like the late South African anti-apartheid struggle icon, Nelson Mandela, Buhari was unable to command and control anything (including his inner family) during his years of solitary confinement. Mandela had to do away with Winnie when he discovered that someone else must have been performing his conjugal duty while he was incarcerated. It is often said that out of sight is out of mind. Only few women of moral quality could afford to keep themselves ‘whole’ in the prolonged absence of a breadwinner. However, few people could lay any blame on these daughters of Eve as love remains a natural thing that demands constant ‘treatment’ in moments of truth!
The first Aisha in the life of our President happens therefore to be his dear wife and our First Lady — sophisticated, elegant and outspoken. The beautiful woman had made headlines across the world last year when she told the BBC (Hausa Service) that her husband was literally held hostage by a cabal she never named. She threatened to withdraw her crucial support for Buhari’s re-election bid in 2019 if the situation was not checked. She had lamented a terrible situation where non-politicians that never participated in the President’s election in 2015 were now being rewarded with juicy appointments while leaving behind the party stalwarts that worked tirelessly for the emergence of Buhari as President.
The President was on a state visit to Germany then. His first reaction to the wife’s bombshell was characteristically tactless and dismissive. Buhari had dismissed his wife’s concerns stating rather manically that Aisha’s place in his presidency was in his bedroom, kitchen and the other room! What he meant by “the other room” was never stated but we deduced it to mean that maybe the presidential husband and wife were not sleeping together in one room but in seperate rooms in the Villa.
And when the President took months to attend to his health challenges in London the First Lady had visited the British capital more than once. On one occasion she had tweeted figuratively in a response to earlier tweets by Senator Shehu Sani who saw jackals and hyenas wishing the lion-king never recovered from his ailment. He equally saw the lesser weak animals praying fervently for the wild beast to return in earnest to save the kingdom from the wolves, hyenas and predators! Aisha had reassured the Sanis of this world that Allah had answered the prayers of the weaker animals. “The hyenas and the jackals will soon be sent out of the kingdom. We strongly believe in the prayers and support of the weaker animals” she concluded.
Recently we read online a leaked audio tape containing certain confidential conversation by some influential members of the Aso Rock cabal.Therein they labelled the First Lady “the suicide bomber from Yola”! She has proven to be a thorn in the flesh of the notorious cabal whose membership cuts across political and economic interests. Given her academic background and sophistication, the First Lady could have been difficult to manipulate by the cabal. She is giving them sleepless nights because she knows their strategies, strengths and weaknesses. The fear of Aisha, therefore, is the beginning of wisdom for Mamman Daura and co.
Now, the second Aisha in the life of the President is one ‘Mama Taraba’, the Minister of Women Affairs Hajia Aisha Jummai Al-Hassan. This woman is a rare breed indeed given the controversy that trailed her recent declarations. During the last Sallah festivity, she had travelled from Abuja to Yola to pay homage to her ‘godfather’, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar. She declared that in the event of Buhari seeking for a second term in office she would solidly back Atiku whom she said was her mentor in politics! Shocking indeed! Some politicians had reacted to the declaration of double loyalty from ‘Mama Taraba’ with some asking her to quit since she could not possibly serve two ‘masters’ at a time. But we disagree. She has not done anything wrong to warrant throwing in the towel. The woman is rather seen as a perfect illustration of politics with a conscience.
To be able to decipher the reasons behind the unprecedented posturing one must choose between the lies, the double speak, the subterfuge of our professional politicians and the brutal bluntness and honesty of the Al-Hassans of this world. Her forthright, principled position on Buhari and the 2019 presidential poll as regards the Waziri Adamawa attests to her enormous boldness and political conviction. It would be recalled that this same woman
had visited the PDP headquarters to felicitate with Ahmed Makarfi when he won the supreme court case validating his position as the authentic PDP Chairman.
Alhaji Atiku Abubakar’s presidential ambition dated back even before Olusegun Obasanjo emerged from the Abacha gulag to be ‘coronated’ President in 1999 without our votes. Atiku was his running mate and became the Vice President. He had some rancorous relationship with OBJ in their second mandate. The open feud had to do with Atiku’s ambition to succeed Obasanjo — something the retired General opposed vehemently. Obasanjo had made many unsubstantiated allegations bordering on corruption and insubordination against Atiku. And at a stage, he had accused him of having some marabouts on his payroll! But Atiku had retorted angrily by saying that Obasanjo was a prominent member of some secret societies in the country.
Recently Atiku had granted an explosive interview with the Voice of America (Hausa Service) wherein he lamented that the Buhari administration had sidelined him despite having contributed financially and materially to the campaign that brought him to power. He claimed that not once had he ever been consulted on any issue, national or party. Now Atiku seems to be carefully biding his time waiting for the right time to launch or re-launch his presidential bid.
In a nation where godfatherism is often rewarded with betrayal ‘Mama Taraba’ stands out as a rare gem. In a country where leadership is seen as genuflecting before whoever is in power and taming whatever audible that could be misconstrued as insolence or insubordination she has rekindled hope of a generational salvation in a scorned clime. If you were to be an Atiku you would definitely appreciate what she did. A Senator Theodore Orji must learn how to respect the godfather (Orji Uzor Kalu). And a Governor Willie Obiano must not provoke the godfather (Peter Obi) into declaring that he would shed his blood to prevent his re-election as Anambra Governor come November.
To be fair Atiku is a good presidential material. He could make a good President in our reckoning! He is eminently qualified to preside over Nigeria given his wealth of experience in the world of business and politics. But we hasten to add that his name has been associated with too many scandals bordering on professional impropriety and graft. Many Nigerians like him as much as others loathe him in equal measure. But like him or loathe him he remains a viable alternative come 2019.
For one, the Waziri Adamawa is not known to be suffering from any ailment. He is fit enough to paddle the ship of state. For another, he seems to be prepared for the job having been coveting same for years now. And for yet another, he is fearless and forthright and conversant with the econo-social malaise troubling our land and could be in a better position to fix same upon gaining power at the centre.
Mama Taraba had spoken her mind sans hypocrisy of the average politician in Naija. Her so-called “indiscretion” is not important. She had said she was ready to face the consequences if need be by standing by her pro-Atiku position. We applaud her for bluntness and loyalty in this sickening season of sycophancy and cowardice. Ordinarily, it would seem that Aisha from Taraba had broken a certain taboo in the Nigerian politics. That is the practice of political correctness in our body politics. But we hold that she just decided to be true to her conscience. Out of conviction, she must have spoken out.
While Buhari’s health status has remained controversial following medical tourism to the United Kingdom those clamouring for him to seek re-election come 2019 may not ‘love’ him; in fact, they are the enemies of Nigeria.