By Dele Momodu
“He who finds a wife finds a good thing…” – PROVERBS 18: 22
Fellow Nigerians, please forget the shakara of all men who try to act macho, most men are ultimately controlled by their wives, and sometimes girlfriends. Right from the Biblical Genesis, women had always known their enormous power and they’ve mastered how to use it. It does not matter if you are a king or a President, your wife is always your boss. You may be as big as an elephant outside but you are only a small rat at home. I always say this to my wife “how come a man can never be a superstar at home?” I am yet to find an answer to that conundrum.
Your wife is the one who knows you inside out. She has seen you in good times, when you were soaring like an eagle, and in bad times, when you were down and flat out. She’s witnessed when the ruthless hands of fate has dealt you some fatal blows and you are feeling less than a man. No matter who or what you become in life never matters again because she holds the copyright to your authentic story. She is the author of life who has seen you in your totality.
Women are generally intuitive and sometimes possess the gift of clairvoyance. As men we tend to ignore or dismiss the advice of our wives sometimes but they turn out to be right most times much to our chagrin and often, regret. That has been my personal experience with mine. I have learnt to accept her as my mum on earth since the departure of my biological mum in 2007. Whenever she tells me she doesn’t like a particular friend of mine, I may argue and struggle to defend my friend but something always happens to show she was right and I was wrong in my assessment.
I believe this is the situation our President, Muhammadu Buhari, and his beautiful wife, Aisha, have found themselves now. A lot of water must have passed under the bridge before the wife of a President would burst out openly and publicly on a global platform like the BBC, even if it is the Hausa version. It is a fact that Mrs Aisha Buhari brought elegance and panache to the campaign of her husband. She worked tirelessly and I believe she must have endured a lot during those days of her husband’s horrendous tribulations. I particularly love the way she has brought up their children as very responsible young people. We must always give credit to our wives because they are always the ones taking care of our kids when we have gone our different ways trying to make a living and bring bread to the table. The little I have seen of President Buhari’s children suggests a close-knit family and a well-educated one at that. This should make our President very proud and happy and grateful to Allah and his wife of nearly three agonizing decades.
If such a lady has chosen to speak out loud and clear about her frustration with the direction her husband’s government is going, President Buhari should please listen to her message and ignore the messenger. God has a way of reaching out and ministering unto people. Aisha is the guardian angel sent to our President in order to avert a cataclysmic fall a second time. History has an uncanny way of repeating itself and I’m sure Lady Aisha can see a lot of striking similarities between now and the past. In law this would be called similar facts. They do not bear repeating in full but it does not seem such a huge coincidence of history that President Buhari came to power on the last day of 1983 in a military putsch, on the back of what was a seemingly corrupt and inept government on an anti-corruption and war on indiscipline platform. Eerily in 2015, the same conditions appear to have thrust the President back into power in what was a democratic coup that swept an inept and corrupt government away on the mantra of anti-corruption and change. Less than 18 months after the President came to power as a military dictator there was great disenchantment with his administration such that people were jubilant after his fall. Now the position appears to be the same less than 18 months after assuming power. The President is now being seen as a maximum ruler who has lost the tremendous goodwill that greeted his ascension to power for a second stint at governing this unruly country.
Indeed, it was with trepidation and shock that I first read about the brave outburst of the Wife of the President, Mrs Aisha Buhari as to the dangerous state of things in so far as the President’s inner circle and his party, APC, are concerned.
I could not believe my eyes when I read that she had said the following in no particular order on a BBC Hausa Service interview:
“Whether he knows or he doesn’t know, those who voted for him know. There is nothing I will tell him.” ( With reference to those in his Government causing difficulties for the President).
“He can see. Among all the people he selected, if he is asked among 50 people, he doesn’t know 45. I don’t know them despite staying with him for 27 years.”
“This worries us a lot now. Because they believe they are the ones who suffered, but are nowhere today. Those who didn’t do anything who don’t even have voter’s card are the ones in position, doing everything.”
I’m almost certain she would have tried to communicate with her husband and the following could have happened. (a) She never got the audience required; (b) She got the audience she sought but was told to mind her own business or (c) she got her few minutes and was heard but was even insulted for daring to put her mouth in matters of state. She probably reached out to some members of the new mafia who she believes have virtually hypnotized and hijacked her husband and she met a brick-wall there too.
If truth must be told, there is nothing new or strange about what she has said in this apparently explosive interview. The only difference this time is that this is coming from the wife of the President. Even outsiders like us had raised these observations in the last few months; that it seems some people are misleading Buhari; that his team needs to be energized; that the ruling party has set fire on its own roof by engaging in a war of attrition and alienating their core members who fought tooth and nail to make a Buhari Presidency possible after so many attempts; that a cabal has ostensibly manifested itself in the Buhari administration; and so on.
Although Mrs Buhari categorically stated that her husband had not told her whether he he would contest the 2019 elections or not she may have unwittingly let the cat out of the bag and inadvertently exposed the plot of this cabal by saying she is not likely to campaign for her husband in 2019 thus suggesting that the idea of a bid for the Presidency in 2019 is already being contemplated. Tellingly she stated:
“He is yet to tell me but I have decided as his wife, that if things continue like this up to 2019, I will not go out and campaign again and ask any woman to vote like I did before. I will never do it again.”
Of all the imagined sins of Mrs Buhari in relation to this interview this may be the most injurious to the Cabal’s camp than the issue of poor or sluggish governance. It is a grave indictment when your wife who was such an avid and strong campaigner for you a few years earlier says earnestly that she is fed up and regrets her decision. This is obviously a view that Mrs Buhari believes resonates with a lot of people as she went further to say that “what I am afraid of is the rebellion of 15 million people” in apparent reference to those who elected the President into power this time around.
It is clear that the President must have been taken totally aback by the acidic and acerbic criticism of his administration by the person who should be his number one supporter. His attempt at a jocular sidestep of a tsunamic eruption from his wife has only served to ignite the debate and has somehow managed to portray the President as a person ruling past his time. Women continue to make great strides as world leaders, cue Angela Merkel of Germany, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia, Cristina De Kirchner of Argentina, Sheikh Hasina Wajed of Bangladesh, Dalia Grybauskaite of Lithuania, Park Geun-hye of South Korea, Erna Solberg of Norway, Michelle Bachelet of Chile, Marie-Louise Preca of Malta, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic of Croatia, Theresa May of Great Britain and hopefully Hillary Clinton of the US, in the not too distant future. Closer to home, there have recently been appointed as Prime Minister and President respectively, Aminata Toure of Senegal and Catherine Samba-Panza of the Central African Republic although their terms have ended. It is therefore unfortunate that the President dismissed his wife as perfunctorily as he did. The President said “I don’t know what party she belongs to, but she belongs to my Kitchen and my living room and the other room.” In my view, the President lost a good opportunity to shore up his feminist credentials and deal with those of his critics who would say he was talking like a typical Islamic fundamentalist, which I believe the President is most assuredly not.
The President appears to be suggesting that there is even greater discord in his home by saying that he does not know what party his wife belongs to. It demonstrates a degree of paranoia reminiscent of the internet trolls and acolytes who support the President and who consider every critic, whether constructive or otherwise, as being anti-corruption or a member of the opposition.
But we must thank God for giving Nigeria such a good lady in our Presidential palace. It is sad that rather than being appreciated for her candour and uncommon courage, critics have unleashed a social media war on her. This is most unfortunate. One, she is a Nigerian. Two, she is the wife of our President. Three, rather she has done Nigeria a great service by screaming before it is too late. No matter what happens, I personally wish there are more of such visionary leaders around who do not see power as an end in itself. Now that her husband has come out to diss her before the whole world by saying she belongs in the kitchen and his “other” room, she deserves our prayers and support.
The President did not stop at the one attack on his wife. He effectively lumbered her with the tag of being part of the opposition when he said “So I claim superior knowledge over her and the rest of the opposition, because in the end, I have succeeded. It is not easy to satisfy the whole Nigerian opposition parties or to participate in the government”. The import of that statement is that President Buhari believes in the course he is pursuing and he thinks everything is on point. History will be his judge in this respect but I hasten to add that right now a lot of Nigerians would share his wife’s views about the state of the nation and not those of the President.
I pray Baba would hearken to the voice of reason that his wife represents and act in the best interest of Nigeria and by implication himself.