Aisha Buhari says Maryam Babangida died with the glory attached to the office of the First Lady

April 17, 2015 9:15 pm

Speaking in a recent interview published by Tribune,
incoming First lady, Mrs said the glory associated with
the office of the First Lady, in her opinion, died with former First
Lady, Mrs .

“First of all, as you said that the current First Lady is receiving
bashes from all corners of the country. The former first lady, late
Mariam Babangida, may her soul rest in peace, introduced the office of
the first lady, but I am beginning to think that she died with the glory
of the office. I think I will prefer to be called the wife of the
president of the Federal Republic of than the First Lady of
Nigeria” she said.

Just like a normal northern girl who went through Western education in
her prime, Aisha Buhari, the wife of the president-elect, is not only
passionate about educating the girl-child, but also empowering women.
Could you tell us a bit about yourself?

My name is Aisha Muhammadu Buhari, the wife of the former head of
state. I was born and brought up in Adamawa before getting married.
Though, I was about to start my university education when I got married.
In fact, I got an admission to study Mass Communication.

So, why didn’t you follow-up on your Mass Communication admission?

I got married eventually.

The man Buhari is an enigma to many people, tell us what Buhari is really like?

The real Buhari is someone that is very simple, jovial, very understanding and has a very high sense of humour.

Your husband seems extremely passionate about Nigeria, what brought about this?

When he was the head of state, the way he handled Nigeria had started
changing people for the better, but all of a sudden, his regime was
toppled. So, I think he felt that Nigerians are very good and wonderful
people, that they just need a very good leader, and that’s it.

How do you feel about this cult-like figure he has attained, everybody seems to have rooted for him, how do you feel?

Sometimes, I feel very emotional. He feels so too. For you to see
people dying to touch you; for somebody who is quite poor to go and save
N200 and send it to you, I think it is very touching.

What was your growing up like?

Just like a normal northern girl going through Western education in
the morning and then in the afternoon going to Islamic school.

So, did you enjoy going to school?

Yes, I did.

What were your favourite subjects?


And now you are in government, I think you are well prepared
for it? Your husband encouraged your going back to school, is he a
believer in the education of the girl-child?

Yes, he is. Actually, when I got married I felt that I must continue
with my education and he also wanted me to continue. I could remember
shortly after we got married, he wrote a letter and asked me to take it
to my late uncle, Professor Isah Abba, who was a lecturer at Ahmadu
Bello University, Zaria, Kaduna State for 30 years, in the History
Department. He wrote to him that he wanted me to continue my education
and also to be a very good housewife.

So how did you combine the two?

It was not easy at all. I came from a learned family; we have about
four or five professors from the same parents with my mother. So, I
can’t just afford to fold my arms at home and say I am the wife of the
former president of Nigeria without going to school. But I thank God
today that I was able to manage the two.

You have a Masters degree?

Yes, I have  the National Certificate in Education (NCE) and I have a
degree in Public Administration; a diploma in Beautotherapy and a
certificate course on Health Safety and Employment Standard from the
United Kingdom. Then, I enrolled for the Masters programme at the
Nigerian Defence Academy; I studied International Affairs and Strategic

People say you are a firm believer in Human Rights, coming
from the northern background where women tend to be more submissive than
the rest of the country, what brought this about?

Actually, I was raised with eight boys; I have two elder brothers and six younger brothers…

Are you the only girl?

Almost (laughter). I feel that right from the beginning, everybody
should stand for his right, even when we were young and my father
noticed that. My mother kept praying for me to have a husband that is

That means you must be very opinionated?

Quite indomitable. Few months after getting married, we were still
trying to know each other, whatever he said to me, the way I answered,
he was thinking it was the woman that was telling me what to tell him.
He didn’t know that I was on my own.

How do you hope to influence him on giving women appointment in his cabinet?

I don’t need to influence him because he is so passionate about women
and he knows that when a woman gets it right, consider everything done.

So, we should be expecting to see a lot of female appointees?

Not even appointments, I think people are mistaking some few things
on gender inequality, like picking one woman from a state and giving her
a ministerial post, they think women are represented. For me, I don’t
think women are well represented because a woman in the village doesn’t
know who the minister is or what is happening. I think picking one
enlightened woman as a minister,  she may not have the rapport with the
real rural women and that is where it matters. Mind you,  I am not 
against females as ministers.

So, how do you intend to change this?

I think the best thing to do is to empower or give key positions to
women from local governments where we feel that they are very close to
the grassroots. They can feel the masses’ pulse and they know where the
shoe pinches, so, I think they will perform better.

What do you think about the way politics is being played in the country?

It is very unfortunate the way they play politics because we need to
play it healthy to set an example for the next generation. Our children
are watching us and they are copying us. I feel that they should copy
something good from us.

So what will you do differently?

Just to have limitations in whatever you are doing and saying.

There is the issue about your husband’s health, if nobody can
answer it, you can answer. What is the real state of your husband’s

My husband is very, very, very healthy. I can assure them that.

You have a nickname, Gogo, please, tell us what this means?

Gogo in Hausa means step-mother but in Fulani, aunty.

So, why are you called Gogo?

I don’t know, I think it is the Hausa culture…

Maybe you have been playing the role of a sister, aunty or a mother to people?

Yes. Actually, that was how I was introduced by my husband to his
children that are my step-daughters. I asked him what it meant and he
said a wife to your father, uncle.

So your husband gave you the nickname?

So to say.

Back to politics. The Chibok girls, what do you think could have been done differently?

I think that involves security. When corruption is tackled in Nigeria, we will get a lot of things done.

I want you to tell us something that people don’t know about you?

I am a lady that hates hypocrisy, I want openness and I am indomitable.

You urged  people not to stone anybody, why are you taking the path of peace?

Since democracy has come to stay, we are  supposed to practise it
like we practise our religions. Our children copy from us so, we should
never preach violence. We have to play politics with morality, integrity
and with capacity, not violence.

Judging by all the bashes that the current first lady gets
from different quarters, are you in anyway scared of taking this

No, I am not scared because I know my limitations and boundaries.
Once you attempt to go beyond where you should be, you can receive all
sorts of things.

Who are those you would say inspired you as a woman?

Every woman that can stand up for herself and on her own, indomitable women and courageous women, those are my role models.

What are your plans for the office of the first lady when your husband assumes office?

 First of all, as you said that the current first lady is receiving
bashes from all corners of the country. The former first lady, late
Mariam Babangida, may her soul rest in peace, introduced the office of
the first lady, but I am beginning to think that she died with the glory
of the office. I think I will prefer to be called the wife of the
president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria than the first lady of

When you start performing as the first lady, what are those things you will have in place as your give back to the people?

Like they normally ask me some questions about pet projects, because
some past first ladies normally had theirs, for me, maybe I may have,
but I don’t have one now because there are a lot of problems in the
country and there are lots of women with good ideas. If I decided to
come up with one programme, that will divert everybody’s attention and I
think the rest of the programme may not come up or may not survive. If
there are genuine projects from different people, I will help champion
the programmes rather than me having only one pet programme.

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