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AISHA BUHARI glides into another controversy as criticism greets Abuja Appreciation Dinner ‘She must have been cleared by the President’ – Presidential Spokesman, FEMI ADESINA

WIFE of the President, Hajia Aisha Buhari has jumped into another controversy. This time, Nigeria’s First Lady is on fire for staging an ‘Appreciation Dinner’ when President Buhari is out of the country.

But in a swift reaction to the allegation (in an exclusive phone chat with ENCOMIUM Weekly on Monday, June 15, 2015) President Buhari’s Special Adviser (Media and Publicity) Mr. Femi Adesina said she must have got his clearance before organising the controversial dinner.

“Mr. President is in South Africa attending the AU Summit. His wife remains his wife and the First Lady of Nigeria, no matter where the President is. She must have cleared the Appreciation Dinner with him before he left. So, there is no reason for anybody to split hairs over it.  Thanks.”

The social and mainstream media had questioned the propriety of the party, especially now the nation’s having serious economic crisis. Not a few also queried why the First Lady should co-ordinate party affairs when the APC Apparatchik is very much in place.

But without any encumbrance, Hajia Buhari, who only weeks back, was in the news for allegedly adorning a designer Cartier Baignoire Folle wristwatch worth £34,500 (N10.4 million) and releasing official portrait as First Lady (when her office was supposed to be silent), went on to treat APC women and youths to an elaborate reception.

The event was at the old Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Tagged, ‘Appreciation Dinner,’ the party was to thank APC stakeholders for working for her husband’s victory in the March 28 presidential election.  Speaking at the occasion, the wife of the President noted that it took Buhari 12 years to win the presidency. So, those coming around him must be ready to serve the masses and not the person of Buhari.

“It is the people that are around him that will determine the political health of our state,” she added.

According to Hajia Buhari, “there was nothing that people did not say about the past administration. It is not Jonathan that is not good, but the people around him.

“So, the people that are going to be around General Buhari have to be very careful because this election ended peacefully.”

The First Lady who thanked the women for their contributions in making Buhari’s election a reality, explained that she didn’t come out in previous election campaigns not because her husband prevented her, but those around him didn’t invite her.

She said this time around, she was specifically requested by the APC National Leader, Bola Ahmed Tinubu to join in the campaign, while attesting that it did make a huge difference.

“I simply cannot thank you enough for the love, contributions and sacrifices during this journey. Many have lost their lives and many found themselves in difficult situations, particularly victims of insurgency.

“It is with heavy heart that I recall their sufferings during this period. Yet, many of them were determined to cast their votes in anticipation of a change in their lives.”

Hajia Buhari also used the occasion to assure Nigerians that her reign as First Lady would be scandal- free and service oriented.

She sensationally revealed that serious cases of extortion were allegedly going on during the last administration.

“I will like to inform you that in the past regime, whether it is true or false, only God knows, some people were going round and parading themselves as Personal Assistants (PAs). If you wanted to see the First Lady, you will pay $30,000, $50,000 and if you are seeing the President, you will pay all that you have gathered in your lifetime.

“This will not happen in our regime. Whoever asks you to give a single penny in the name of coming to see the President or his wife is not our staff. He is not an APC member, it is a lie. Don’t be deceived.”

Hajia Buhari also faulted claims that made the rounds ahead of the elections on the gender-sensitivity of her husband, saying they were mere fabrications.

Describing Buhari as the pillar of her success despite the generation gap between them, she said it was the President who encouraged her to go to school.

“Many people did not know why I was not appearing for the last three campaigns. I appeared only this time and I think it made a lot of difference. A lot of people said my husband earned four million votes as a result of my campaign.

“We were not sure but with the popularity of my husband, we thought then that he needed female support to cancel all sorts of gender problems people have been attaching to him like that he kept me under a purdah.”

Earlier, former governor of Rivers State, Rotimi Amaechi, who was the chaired the event, thanked Mrs. Buhari and other women for making his job as the Director-General of the Buhari/Osinbajo Presidential Campaign Organisation easier.

He recalled that before the President’s wife joined the campaign, they were asking for her and shortly after she joined, attention shifted to whether Buhari had certificate or not.

“Before you (Mrs. Buhari) joined us, they were asking for his wife. When we presented his wife, they were asking for his certificate.

“When we presented certificate, they said he was sick in London. Our President is strong and healthy. He visited 35 states during the election.

“Thank you for your reply when they asked if women will want to go and give food to their husbands in prison. You made our jobs easier. I wish all women who took part in the campaign God’s blessing.”

Present at the Appreciation Dinner included, wife of the Vice President, Mrs. Dolapo Osinbajo; wife of the Senate President, Mrs. Toyin Saraki; wife of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mrs. Gimbia Dogara; wife of the National Chairman, Mrs. Victoria Odigie-Oyegun; wives of APC state governors, APC female Deputy Governors and wives of former APC Governors. The party’s National Leader, Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu was represented by Senator Babafemi Ojudu.


–               UCHE OLEHI

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