Aisha is my mum’s name. Right from my days in school, I dare not call my classmates by their names, once they are called Aisha. It is the fulani way of showing respect. You do not call people by their names, once they bear your father’s or mother’s names. In Islam, Aisha is the mother of the believers. She is the most favored of all the prophet’s wives (Prophet Muhammad may the peace and blessings of Allah be with him). She is the custodian of the largest collection of the prophet’s teachings (ahadith). She is the only wife of the prophet that shares the same bowl with him to perform ablution. He died in her arms between her chest and her neck, and was buried in her house. His communion with Allah, was always when he was at her home. She was the daughter of the first Khalifa (disciple) Abubakar As Siddiq. Just so you know, Aisha was a very strong character, and it seems that whoever is named Aisha, almost over 1400 years after; truly is a strong and remarkable character.
I have had reason to want to write mamana (Aisha Buhari), when at times she has had one or two strong feelings about goings in the polity; in relation to the actions or inactions of government. I remember she used to visit my late father, Dr. Ibrahim Tahir, Talban Bauchi, when he was hospitalised at the National Hospital, Abuja. Everyday she brought a dish for him. She sat and prayed for him and repeated this for 7 good months. Throughout his stay, she looked after him as if he were her own father. After his passing, I visited General Buhari in Kaduna, in the build up to the APC merger talks. I also hopped in to greet Aisha and thank her for looking after Babatalba so well. She was very nice and courteous and she made me feel welcome, and at home. That was the last time I saw both the General and Aisha, back in 2012.
I usually see events take place at the Villa or at the APC national secretariat and have always wondered how as a party loyalist, or as a family friend, I am unable to get an IV (inviting card o! not intravenous). This time I set out to try and get one for the book presentation; AISHA: Being Different, by Hajo Sani PhD; The Senior Special Assistant to the President. I reached out to Aisha’s brother, Alh. Musa who was gracious enough to get me one. By 9am, I was seated at the Conference Hall of the Presidential Villa. It was a very colorful event, that was filled with very kind and complimentary speeches about the speakers’ encounters with the First Lady, and what she truly is up close. The National leader of the APC, Alh. Bola Ahmed Tinubu was effusive with praise for Aisha, as he underlined her contributions to the success of the campaigns that brought Buhari into the Presidency. They had seen her involvement and decided that she had a vital role to play, in carrying women and youth along. He told of how she had ably put to bed, the controversy over the title of first lady, or wife of the President; and how she had taken it in her stride and overcome the brewing constitutional dilemma. Today, she effectively participates in governance, where women and children are involved, especially with her foundation, Future Assured. Nutrition, gender-based violence, education etc are some of the focal points of her foundation’s care.
Gov. Kayode Fayemi spoke enthusiastically about Aisha and how determined she is when she puts a thing to task. He described her passion for perfection and jested about how sometimes she voices out her frustrations when things aren’t going on well. The DG of the World trade organisation, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala, also spoke via online video. She spoke about how Nigerian women are hardworking as farmers, traders, teachers, civil servants, entrepreneurs, and mothers all at once. She said my dear Aisha is a perfect encapsulation and an example of the struggles and resilience of Nigerian women. The Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, Amina Mohammed, also spoke about Aisha’s efforts in speaking up against inequality. She also highlighted the dynamic and ever changing manner, in which the traditional role of women in society as mothers and care-givers is becoming different, and fast at that as well. She also commended the writer of the book, for her initiative in capturing Aisha’s role in the life of PMB.
In understanding Aisha Buhari’s disposition as it relates with the life of her husband, I had to juxtapose her view with mine back then as a child. My own dad was more of a public figure and had quite a busy schedule. He related with tons and tens of thousands of people. He was a traditionalist, the Talba of Bauchi, and an academician. He was a public speaker and an orator at that. He was a politician, a minister, an executive chairman, and a Northern Nigerian elder. Of course I, my mum and my siblings had a back stage view of him and his life. So it is easy for me to reflect and understand how Aisha Buhari views issues around and about PMB. She would definitely have highly opinionated and passionate ideas on how things should be, through her own very unique back stage view. She could even misunderstand or not grasp some of the depth of certain things– but nevertheless, she would be viewing them with a passionate disposition.
Mamana has never relented in voicing out, albeit controversially sometimes. Life is a learning process and everyone sees things via his or her own lense. With Hajo Sani’s being different; and from what I knew about Aisha, I have come to understand that she is one greatly misunderstood and misrepresented character. She would definitely care more about Mr. President, his health and his success, better than anyone else. Mamana has obviously been a great mother, with her kids living largely private lives, away from the spotlight of the Presidency. Mamana has been her husband’s great ally through thick and thin. Truly, as wife of the President, we are witnesses to a difference, from the norm of the First Lady as decider in chief, at the Presidential Villa.
Tahir is Talban Bauchi.