Back in 2015, when President Muhammadu Buhari was still campaigning to be president and advocating for a smaller, more frugal central government, he announced that he was going to scrap the office of the First Lady. According to him, the office was unconstitutional and simply another avenue to loot public funds. His wife, Aisha Buhari, said if the office is scrapped, she would limit herself to traditional roles of a first lady including entertaining guests and visiting orphanages.
Promise broken: It turned out that Buhari’s promise to scrap the office was just one of those things he said at the time without an intention to fulfill, like reducing the presidential fleet and publicly declaring his assets. Upon election, Aisha Buhari acted as first lady in every way apart from using the title. She was addressed as ‘wife of the president’ but there was nothing any previous first lady had or did that she did not.
- She had as many as 10 advisers or assistants being paid from the government purse. There’s no way to know the exact figure due to the lack of transparency.
- She has even managed to get so wealthy in the process that she announced plans to build a university.
Now she is ready to take the title as well. She announced on Thursday at a dinner for wives of former governors that she has now changed her title from “wife of the president’ to ‘First Lady of the Federal Republic of Nigeria’.
A statement to emphasise it: For those who didn’t hear the announcement at the dinner, a media aide to the ‘first lady’, Bisi Olumide-Ajayi, released a statement to confirm it.
- According to the statement, Aisha Buhari ‘personally chose’ to be addressed as wife of the president after the 2015 victory, but her decision caused some confusion, which is why she decided to change it.
Bottomline: Aisha Buhari’s decision to take the title of First Lady bursts the myth that somehow there is a difference in the way the ‘unconstitutional’ office is being run now compared to the past.