It was reported that some Nigerian women have advised Mrs. Aisha Buhari to learn from the perceived mistakes of former First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan.
In the past five years that former President Goodluck Jonathan was at the helms of affairs in the country, his wife, Patience, made history for always being in the news for controversial matters. As such, she is arguably the most controversial First Lady in the country’s political history. For this reason, Mrs. Jonathan became a regular subject of public discourse as a result of her utterances and actions.
She has been described by some analysts as lacking the discipline and composure required of the occupant of the office of the First Lady, although it is neither an elective position nor recognised by the nation’s constitution.
But in all, most analysts failed to recognise in her a strong character, which seemed to have set her apart from other First Ladies before her.
With the many controversies which surrounded Mrs. Jonathan at the time she was the country’s First Lady, many Nigerians are looking forward to a new era with Mrs. Aisha Buhari, wife of the new President, Muhammadu Buhari.
Having assumed her new role as the country’s First Lady, Mrs. Buhari has become the subject of comparison by those who are already comparing her to Mrs. Jonathan, who fuelled several controversies, particularly during her husband’s presidential campaign, where she played a major role.
At a campaign rally, Mrs. Jonathan once urged supporters of the ruling People’s Democratic Party to “stone” anyone shouting “change,” the campaign slogan of Buhari’s All Progressives Congress, the main opposition party at the time.
One of those who tried to compare the two women is the Head, Nigeria Network of NGOs, Yemisi Ransome-Kuti, who told newsmen that “Patience has been like a bull in a china shop. No control whatsoever. We are very hopeful that we will have a very different First Lady, who will bring calm and harmony to the presidency.”
For starters, Mrs. Buhari has shown the public a glimpse of what to expect in her soft-spoken speeches while supporting her husband during the last presidential campaign, suggesting a calm mien.
In one of her tweets at the time, she said she would prefer to be referred to as “Wife of the President” to being called the “First Lady.” This also caught on with some people, who felt the outgoing First Lady lacked a similar modesty.
Interestingly, Buhari had contested to become Nigeria’s President in 2003, 2007 and 2011, but Mrs. Buhari was relatively unknown until her husband’s fourth attempt in 2015, where she appeared to have put up more appearances at campaign rallies than previous ones.
While addressing the debate over the role of a First Lady during one of the election campaigns, Mrs. Buhari said, “If the office of the first lady is constitutionally recognised, my husband will not tamper with it but if it is not, that’s okay. For me, I will perform my duties and role as the wife of the President of Nigeria traditionally.”
The wife of the president has some traditional roles, like receiving guests, visiting orphanages, helping the less-privileged people. Also, leading the fight for the right of women and malnourished children, curbing infant mortality rate, kidnapping and girl child trafficking.”
However, it is much too early to say what Mrs. Buhari’s time in office will look like until such a time when factors like events and the pressure of the office reveal it to the public.
Born on February 17, 1971, Mrs. Buhari is an alumnus of the Ahmadu Bello University, where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Public Administration.
She is also an alumnus of the Carlton Institute of London and the Academy Esthetique Beauty Institute of France, Dubai, where she earned a postgraduate diploma in Cosmetology and Beauty therapy.
Mrs. Buhari, who works in the beauty industry, hails from the family of the first Minister of Defence, Hon. Muhammadu Ribadu in Adamawa State and got married to Buhari on December 2, 1989.
Already, some Nigerians expect that Mrs. Buhari would be different from Mrs. Jonathan by being less controversial.
For instance, the presidential candidate of the KOWA party in the last general elections, Prof. Remi Sonaiya, described the two women as having different personalities and therefore didn’t “expect them to behave the same way.”
She, however, identified the key to avoiding controversies as understanding that the position of the First Lady is not an elective one, an error she insinuated that Mrs. Jonathan made.
“I think that it’s important to understand her supportive role and to realise that she is not the one that was voted for. She’s not an elected person and therefore should not impose too much on the people,” she said.
“I think the former First Lady would have been a public figure herself because she wanted to be involved in the affairs of the PDP, to determine who gets what and so on and so forth. She loved to exercise power but I think the incoming one is a different kind of person.”