From Ejike Chinedu, Lagos
Wife of President Muhammadu Buhari has enrolled, perhaps without knowing it, and will in the next four years run a programme in contest for the title of the most influential First Lady in Nigeria’s history. Though her husband has expressed reservation about the office of the first lady, the call on her to carry out some functions in her capacity as the wife of the President, may be loud and difficult to ignore.
Aisha Buhari does not seem like someone who will shy away from limelight. Not just because she is married to the number one citizen of the country, not because she is educated, not because she is elegant and really beautiful and not because she has the ability to coordinate her thought and present such in a manner that will be appealing and less controversial.
But because she is currently occupying a position that has become very influential in Nigeria’s recent history. Not just that, she by training and profession as a beautician, puts people (I guess fellow women) in a mode that the cheapest thing they can do is to show off who they are.
From 1985, late Mariam Babangida, another beautiful and elegant woman glamourised the office of the first lady in Nigeria and built a grassroots support base for her husband, General Ibrahim Babangida, through her pet project, BETTER LIFE PROGRAMME FOR RURAL WOMEN.
Mariam Abacha, wife of another military dictator who came to power in 1993 was reasonably visible but remained under the shadow of her name-sake, Mariam Babangida.
The return of democracy in 1999 saw the emergence of another stylish lady, Stella Obasanjo as the first lady. She was quite active through her CHILD CARE TRUST but kept a low influence in governance or so it seemed. The huge personality of her husband, Olusegun Obasanjo stood like the Iroko tree.
Wife of the next President, Umar Musa Yar’adua, Turai, was not heard so many times but was said to be very influential while her husband was in power. Certain actions of the President, including appointments, were credited to her. The dying days of her husband was another moment that showed up her strength and control of affairs.
In a gathering of seven people on Saturday, May 30, five were firm in their argument that Patience Jonathan was talked about more than her husband Dr. Goodluck Jonathan while they occupied the status of the country’s first family. They held that as a person isolated from her position, many Nigerians talked about her boldness, perceived crudeness, concealed health status, impressively colourful fashion tradition and her verbal acrobatic displays which may remain in the country’s street lexicon for a long time to come, after all, “there is God ooo”.
“Mama Pee” occupied front pages of hard core newspapers and could not be ignored by the soft-sell. While she enjoyed all these, she received the long end of public stick for her “overbearing” disposition. The former first lady was blamed for some of her husband’s actions and inactions. Those came together to define the woman who most Nigerians will always remember.
It is likely to be a keen contest between Patience Jonathan and Aisha Buhari for one basic reason. Majority of social media users and those who form opinion of people may not have a personal experience of other first ladies except those that occupied the office or played the role in the last 16 years. If that be the case, Patience Jonathan will give the current first lady a run for her money.
Their style, inter personal skills, leadership qualities and value added to the Nigerian society will be of immense consideration.
See you with your conclusion by May 2019.