by Ebuka Onyeji
Nigeria’s First Lady has accused a close relative of President Muhammadu Buhari of issuing a presidential directive behind her husband.
Aisha Buhari, in a statement she signed and sent to Daily Trust newspaper, accused Mamman Daura of issuing a directive to a presidential spokesperson, Garba Shehu, not to recognise her office.
Mr Buhari had before his election in 2015 said he would not allow for the office of the First Lady. During Mr Buhari’s first term in office, the presidency repeatedly referred to Mrs Buhari as the ‘wife of the president.’
However, after the president’s re-election, Mrs Buhari released a statement saying she should henceforth be referred to as the First Lady and her office as the ‘Office of the First Lady’.
Since then, the presidency has referred to Mrs Buhari as the First Lady and President Buhari has also assigned official aides to her office.
On Wednesday, however, Mrs Buhari accused Mr Daura and Mr Shehu of undermining her office.
“Nigeria’s development is hinged on the ability of public officials to execute their mandates professionally, and to be shining examples in their various areas of endeavor. It is not a good sign when officials abandoned their responsibility and start clutching at straws,” the first lady wrote in the statement she sent to Daily Trust.
Her spokesperson, Suleiman Haruna, confirmed to PREMIUM TIMES that Mrs Buhari authored the mail.
“As spokesperson of the President, he has the onerous responsibility of managing the image of the President and all the good works that he is executing in the country. Rather than face this responsibility squarely, he has shifted his loyalty from the President to others who have no stake in the compact that the President signed with Nigerians on May 29, 2015 and 2019.
“To make matters worse, Mr. Shehu has presented himself to these people as a willing tool and executioner of their antics, from the corridors of power even to the level of interfering with the family affairs of the President. This should not be so. The blatant meddling in the affairs of a First Lady of a country is a continuation of the prodigal actions of those that he serves.
“We all remember that the chief proponent appropriated to himself and his family a part of the Presidential Villa, where he stayed for almost 4 years and when the time came for him to leave, he orchestrated and invaded my family’s privacy through a video circulated by Mamman’s Daughter, Fatima, the public was given the impression that on arrival into the country I was locked out of the villa by Mr. President. Garba Shehu as Villa Spokesperson, knew the truth and had the responsibility to set the records straight, but because his allegiance is somewhere else and his loyalty misplaced, he deliberately refused to clear the air and speak for the President who appointed him in the first place.
“Consequently, his action has shown a complete breakdown of trust between the First Family and him.
“Mr. Shehu was privy and part of the plan and it’s execution and he was shocked when he realized that I had publicized my return to Nigeria on October 12, 2019 and cleared the air on the many rumors that took over social media, a job he was supposed to do but kept mute to cause more confusion and instability for his Principal and his family. “Garba then, vented his anger on the National Television Authority (NTA) Management insisting that the media crew to my office must be sacked. He succeeded in getting them suspended for doing their job. I had to intervene to save the innocent staff from losing their means of livelihood by involving the Department of State Services (DSS) in order to ascertain roles played by key actors in the saga.
“It is at this late hour that I recall, sadly, that it was the same Garba Shehu who claimed that the government will not allow office of the First Lady to run. He was later to confirm to one of my aides that he was instructed to say so by Mamman Daura and not the President. This antic attracted the anger of Nigerian women. He didn’t realize the fact that First Lady’s office is a tradition which has become an institution. ” Today, even without a budget, I am able to run my humanitarian programmes. In saner climes, Garba Shehu would have resigned immediately after going beyond his boundaries and powers.
“GARBA SHEHU NEEDS TO UNDERSTAND THAT THIS KIND OF BEHAVIOR WILL NO LONGER BE TOLERATED.
“The latest of his antics was to wage a war on the first family through an orchestrated media campaign of calumny by sponsoring pseudo accounts to write and defame my children and myself.
“Based on Garba Shehu’s misguided sense of loyalty and inability to stay true and loyal to one person or group, it has become apparent that all trust has broken down between him and my family due to the many embarrassments he has caused the Presidency and the first family. We all have families to consider in our actions and therefore it is in the best interest of all concerned for Garba Shehu to take the advice of the authority, given to him sometimes in the first week of November, 2019,” Mrs Buhari wrote.
Mrs Buhari has repeatedly complained about the influence of Mr Daura in the villa and on her husband.
She once accused him and others of hijacking her husband’s presidency and threatened not to support Mr Buhari’s second term bid.
Mr Daura is one of the closest confidants of the Nigerian leader and is considered one of the most powerful unelected officials in government.
Efforts to reach Mr Shehu for his reaction was unsuccessful Wednesday morning. Calls to his phone were unanswered.