People see first lady, Aisha Buhari from different perspectives. Some people see her through the image of her husband, President Muhammadu Buhari and a traditional Nigerian housewife, who simply echoes the voice of her husband. Others see her through the prism of a neo-political activism and expect her to choose a different ideo-political path from her husband and thus, markedly different from previous Nigerian first ladies.
The people who see her through the image of Buhari, expect her to behave and go along with the conservative Muhammadu Buhari politically and publicly- to just be the wife of the president. Others who expect Aisha to choose a different path, want her to be a classic first lady– be humble, elegant and be the masses’ voice in the corridors of power. Being a people’s first lady in the APC regime may be difficult because as much as the party tries to be unique from previous governments, it is filled with political actors from the past.
First ladies are among the most fascinating women in the world. People mind their movement, fashion, words and style. Thus, Aisha cannot immune herself from public assessment and possible criticism. She attracted uproar over her outfit- an Oscar De La Renta caftan during the 2019 Democracy Day gala night and her recent directive that she should henceforth be addressed as the First Lady.
Nigeria’s constitution does not recognize the office of the First Lady. In fact, the duties of the first lady are undefined. Nonetheless, some Nigerians have idolized the office, while others loathe it.
Worldwide, first ladies are known for elegance and sophisticated appearances, Aisha always towers in that area, especially with her graceful physique. Aisha shares this attribute with Michelle Obama,a fashionista with flawless dress sense, who has appeared on the covers of world magazines like Vogue, People, Essence, More and O, Oprah Winfrey’s magazine.
On another hand, Aisha bears similarities with Melania Trump in being blunt with words notwithstanding being a first lady. Melania remarked at a conference in Egypt last October, “It is very important to me that I express how I feel.”
Though, Aisha is often accused of being too outspoken and often politically incorrect. What many people do not know is, ironically, Aisha possibly picked that attribute from her husband of over 30years- Buhari, the general who says things as they are.
Aisha Buhari may be a mystery woman to some, but she is very popular in many quarters especially among youth members of the APC and in the social media. For example, when she added her voice in kicking against Senate President Senator Ahmad Lawan‘s appointment of Festus Adedayo, a columnist, as his spokesman, and the retention of some aides of Bukola Saraki, she received accolades in the social media, especially APC supporters. In her home state of Adamawa, Aisha is referred to as the Iron Lady, she is political and socially strong in the state. In the recent 2019 governorship election she upset an incumbent.
Some Nigerians expect Aisha Buhari to just be Buhari’s wife; shikenan! But Aisha has chosen to be a First Lady. First Lady is an unelected office with no salary and defined roles, but a first lady can shape history; make impact politically and may even shake the table.
Zayyad I. Muhammad