When the history of Buhari’s monstrous presidency is to be written, with all the anecdotes and soundbites, with all the punctuation marks and figures of speech, Aisha Buhari would occupy a special place in the entire documentation. She may not be your typical and itinerant politician looking for undeserved attention in a political chessboard that has become eternally chauvinistic, she sure knows how to unleash her blunt scalpel to do maximum damage on her chosen patient. Not known for frivolity, she has remained a constant and consistent voice in helping to shape public discourse as it concerns her husband and the presidency he runs.
Aisha Buhari is undoubtedly brutal when she chooses to deliver her punches, and often times, she takes judicial note of the appropriate platform to render her caustic criticism of a government that consistently lives in self-denial. Before the 2019 presidential election, she unleashed one of such jabs, telling Nigerians about the existence of some old folks who have seized the presidency, while calling on women to rise up to the challenge of making their voices heard. Even, while she was being politely cautioned by the wife of the Vice President to apply the usual breaks because it was a public outing, she further threw a riposte that exposed what she was being told to do.
She wondered why the presidency was being allowed to be hijacked by some tired bones who have since formed a ring around her husband. At some point, she also alerted the nation about the financial heist that dominated the Aso Clinic, which enjoyed so much mouth-watering budget that runs into billions, but could not boast of panadol. After her exposé, tempers were high, the Chief Medical Director panicked, but that was the end of the story. Nothing ever gets followed through in this government of incompetence and incapacity. At some other time, she spoke about hyenas and jackals taking refuge once it was established that her husband, the President, was about to return home after a long medical tourism in London.
Her excitement spoke volumes of the unwholesome activities of those old men who have become the invincible and invisible hands in the power oscillation in Aso Villa. Yet, at some point, she lampooned the APC leadership for masterminding what appeared to be a monetized primary election in Adamawa which featured the First Lady’s brother, Modi, in the gubernatorial contest. For denying her brother the ticket, Hajia Aisha Buhari delivered her usual torrents and used very unkind words to underscore the manipulation that had become APC’s second nature. This has become her characteristic way of presenting her resentment over the shapes and currents that have dominated her husband’s presidency for four years now. And her latest onslaught against the Social Investment Programme (SIP) has sent Hajia Maryam Uwais on emergency media damage control.
This is what you get when a government is run like a monologue; no communication, no interaction, no robust engagement, no constructive engagement, just motion without movement. Until Aisha Buhari spoke, information about social investment intervention in Adamawa and the so-called achievements were almost nought. I have often maintained that the magisterial posture of this presidency has its own setback on the way and manner the government is being appreciated. The leadership behaves like a feudal lord, comfortably sitting in his palace, occupying space, but not yielding to solutions that could help address our challenges. President Buhari is comfortable being called the President.
That is where it ends. He is comfortable at visiting some friendly states to commission projects built by state governments. He does not play the politics of power game, nor the power game of politics. He forgets so easily that it is politics that births power, and nurtures its appurtenances. Once you take politics out of the power equation, you run the risk of delegating subplots of power to surrogates who will diligently utilise the power for their own advantage. This is where the cabal becomes useful and relevant. Members of the cabal keep the night vigil while the president drifts away in dreamland. They summarise memos for him to suit his psyche and the psychology of his work environment.
They schedule programmes for him and keep a very strict protocol that almost makes the president a mechanical object. They meet and engage all those who the president ought to engage with, and come up with an abridged version of the interaction and conclusion. They tell the president sweet stories that will irrigate his thoughts with honey, stories that will help massage his ego maximally while the nation suffers deprivations. It is the reason why the president was not aware that former Inspector-General of Police Idris Abubakar, didn’t pass a night in Makurdi during the mindless killings that sent 73 souls to their early graves. Given this hijack, each time Hajia Aisha Buhari speaks, it is like exposing the rots in a system by those persons who pretentiously court her husband’s friendship but are in actual fact, killing Nigeria slowly.
Given her very privileged position as the wife of Mr. President, she sure has access to a lot of information which the ordinary man on the street is not privileged to have. She has friends and loyalists in government circles who must have conveyed some of that information to her. She has courtiers and sycophants whose only business is to monitor the business of others. The gossip industry around her must be a very fertile one with constant production capacity that suits the status of her position.
No matter the explanations being rendered by the Special Adviser on SIP, Hajia Uwais, there are yet serious queries in the operation of the programme that easily exposes its weaknesses. Hajia Uwais is one of Nigeria’s cerebral cerebral, articulate and very patriotic Nigerian who is easily sold to her job.
But there is a tinge of naivety in her conduct. She thinks every other Nigerian is as honest and transparent as herself. When she visited Edo State to launch the programme sometime in October 2016, she was in her usual eloquence for the better part of the ceremony. She saw the loose end when it was question time because of too many answers begging for questions.
The narrative of having so many Nigerians employed is the sweetest lead story when you confront the operators of this programme about its viability. Suddenly, they have started complaining of paucity of funds, in a government that prides itself of financial discipline and effective management techniques.
Who monitors the school feeding exercise, in terms of quality of the food and the environment where the average school pupil is being fed? If some of the school buildings wear the dilapidation that we saw in the Daura school, where the President himself voted in the February 23rd presidential election, then we truly need serious deliverance. We cannot put the cart before the horse. What government ought to do is first to recover the infrastructural decay in schools across the country, introduce a policy of free education at the primary and secondary level, ensure that teaching and learning aids are made available, before thinking about free feeding. Some of our schools look more like pig pen or poultry farms. The real challenge for the government, is to ensure that the learning environment is conducive for education. This is the foundation upon which further enhancements can be made.
For me, the school feeding programme, which is an aspect of the social investment package, has since become business as usual. It is riddled with fraud and Aisha Buhari’s copious punches were meant to alert Nigerians of what they already know. Uwais, given her person and upbringing, may not have a hand in the rot that has characterised the programme, but she can-not vouchsafe that the programme is without blemish. And for someone high up there as the First Lady in the country to make such exposé, is to understand her pains in a system that is running in circles.President Buhari is not given to speaking to Nigerians in Nigeria. He picks his voice each time he finds himself in foreign land, but what he lacks, his wife has in abundance. It is the reason why I will personally celebrate her boldness and uncommon courage each time she feels Nigerians should not be taken for a ride.
Going by her submission, it is instructive for government to probe into the finances of the programme to ascertain its financial wellness. Beyond the data being churned out to defend its status, the programme should explain to Nigerians how it has managed the billions that have been released to it. It will flow with the tide of this administration more so that the billions mentioned by Hajia Buhari is humongous. By tomorrow, President Buhari will be inaugurated to commence his second term of office even though his victory is being challenged at the tribunal. By now, we thought the second leg of his power adventure would have taken shape and form, but it is still bedevilled by the same indices that crippled his first four years.
A day to his inauguration, the government is wearing a forlorn look, with a worsening security situation across the country and grinding poverty and hunger. There are no signs that things will wear a new look or that there will be a paradigm shift in the way and manner that government intends to confront its hydra-headed challenges across the country. Rather than face governance, a weeklong celebration is being lined up, when we are supposed to be mourning.
This is no time for gongs. This should be no time for ostentatious displays. This unique moment should afford us the opportunity for sober and sombre reflection on the challenges that have threatened our nationality. While I was still ruminating over this, government and its unthinking minds, came up with Radio Miyetti, to pour insult on our collective injuries. But it is a story for another day, a day when the Nigeria Broadcasting Commission will explain its role in dishing out license to a body that has been branded a terrorist organisation by all intents and purposes. Until then, let us savour the woman of the moment, the indefatigable First Lady, a Lady with remarkable gusto, playing the uncommon role of a distinguished whistleblower.
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