KEN UGBECHIE

Nigeria’s First Lady, Aisha Buhari, seems to have defied every odd. When her husband, President Muhammadu Buhari, told Nigerians that he would not create and recognise the Office of First Lady, not a few bought into it. Some said that was typical of Buhari, a man sold to Nigerians as taciturn, a man of ramrod integrity and a puritan of the Abraham Lincoln order. So, they believed Buhari. They believed the First Lady would be a fading shadow in the presidential horizon. What the President did not know by the time he made such promise was that the human mind is always a servant of time. He did not know how time will play out on the disposition of his wife; whether Madam Aisha would submit to the dictate of time or toe the creed of her husband.

But time is a mistress with amazing scrutiny skills. It scrutnises our words against our actions. In the case of Mrs Buhari, time has played a determinant role in her adherence to her husband’s wish. The First Lady, it must be said, is a good woman, a homely wife but she has also her own mind. As a mother, she has very strong feelings for humanity, especially strong empathy for children, the sick and those unfairly treated in the society.

In the early days of her husband’s tenure, she was clearly in the shadow of the political ecosystem, preferring to moderate temper and tantrum from the background. And she did that with the dignity befitting her status. But situations change with time, and so are humans. We change to adjust to the paradigms of the moment. It is the nature of man. And it is the basis of Sir Isaac Newton’s Law which states that to every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Simply put, action and reaction are equal and opposite.

And so a once indifferent Mrs Buhari morphed into an involved woman. She was merely reacting to an action. Our First Lady became a victim of the mistress called time. Her husband’s government promised change. It promised a better life for Nigerians, better jobs, more wealth, better infrastructure, better healthcare and generally, a better life for Nigerians. The expectation of the people was high, and so was hers. I conjecture that in her quiet moments, she must have prayed for her husband to get it right; she must have entreated the Almighty to set her husband’s government on the path of wisdom to beget a better, more prosperous Nigeria.

Was she disappointed? Of course, just like many other Nigerians including staunch loyalists of her husband. The auguries were bleak. The ensigns were gloomy. The prospects looked all doomed. They still do. The government cannot and has not delivered the expected change. High on spin and fib but very low in action and good governance. Every genuine lover of this country should feel angry, frustrated and disappointed. The only ones still living in denial are the blind loyalists and those profiting from the mess and miasma that now signpost the Buhari administration. Herein is the danger of blind loyalty. It obscures you from vision, logic and unbiased evaluation of issues. It zombifies the mind and turns the blind loyalist into an object under a spell. It is a dangerous state of the mind. The blind loyalists of Buhari continue to delude themselves that there is a difference between Buhari government and the government of Goodluck Jonathan, Umaru Yar’adua and Olusegun Obasanjo. They are all rogue governments. The Buhari government is not different as we can all now see.

This, perhaps, informed the frustration of Aisha Buhari when she first openly criticized her husband’s government. She had hinted of a cabal who had hijacked the leadership of Nigeria, a cabal, according to her, that does not understand the manifesto of the APC. She chose the media, BBC Hausa Service, to do that. Not even her husband’s ill-advised retort that she belongs to the kitchen, the living room and the other room in any way put down her spirit. Some Nigerians criticized her for uttering her frustration, insisting that as a housewife she should keep quiet and stay at the background, after all, Nigerians did not vote for her. Story!

No good mother would shut up and do nothing when her children are hungry. Madam Aisha was just being a concerned mother who is voicing her anger at the hunger ravaging her children when a few privileged persons have their hands and mouths brimming with the goodies meant for those children.

Again, while the husband was away in London on an unexpectedly protracted medical vacation, it took the courage of the First Lady to remind Nigerians of the existence of some principalities in the husband’s cabinet whom she said would be thrown away as soon as Oga President returns. In reaction to the Facebook post of Senator Shehu Sani who inferred on the existence and rendezvous of some hyenas in the Presidency while the Lion King was away, she wrote: “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. Long live the weaker animals, long live Nigeria.”

The First Lady ever since has remained resolute in her commitment to speaking truth to power under her husband. Recently, she exposed the rot in Aso Rock clinic where everything is either not available, in short supply or dysfunctional. She narrated her frustration when she tried to consult the clinic. The only x-ray in the clinic of the First Family and Nigerians working in that conclave is not functional. She is not the only one speaking. Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, former CBN Governor and now Emir of Kano once alluded to the forex scam subsidy under Buhari. Sanusi said just as Jonathan government produced oil subsidy billionaires, the Buhari government is producing forex subsidy billionaires.

Trending at the moment is another expose by Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, first class lawyer, and Minister of State for Petroleum, who blew the lid on yet another scam under Buhari: $25 billion contract bazaar that lacked the stamp and seal of due process perpetrated in the fortress of NNPC Towers which the Presidency has all but failed to paper over with semantics and technicalities. A fraud is a fraud and should be treated as one. The nose of a dog is black, no amount of washing or bathing will change it.

Those who see Madam Aisha’s outbursts as insubordination and disrespect to her husband should check the profiles of other first class First Ladies in other climes. They never walked in anybody’s shadow. They braved the odds and charted their own path, their own courses and causes. Michelle Obama, Eleanor Roosevelt, Lady Bird Johnson, and Hillary Clinton to mention a few US First Ladies shared one thing in common: boldly fearless and fearlessly bold. They refused to be pinned down in the other room and the kitchen. They made the world their workplace and betterment of humanity their duty. Mrs. Clinton is today famed for her “women’s rights are human rights”. These women were strong advocates for good public health, women’s rights, human rights and equality. They were the voice of the voiceless while in office. Madam Aisha is simply walking this path. She has become the public conscience, the voice of the millions of beleaguered Nigerians, a concerned mother who wants only the best for her children. Nobody should try to stop or bully her. She is beating the bugle to remind her husband of the dirty undercurrents his handlers are hiding from him and to alert Nigerians to their duty of internal vigilance. I will not join her traducers and critics. Rather, I would harvest the best breed of Lotus from Tibet and present to her… for her relentless audacity.