There are indications that Nigeria’s seat of power, Aso Rock Villa, and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) are currently in dilemma over what to do with their promised scrapping of the Office of the First Lady, usually occupied by the wife of the sitting President.
Though the portfolio is unknown to the Constitution of the Federal Republic, it has become a convention all over the world for wives of Presidents and heads of government to play a “First Lady” role in their respective countries.
TheStreetReporters.com has gathered that the Nigeria’s presidency has begun moves to play on words and appear as though its scrapping the “First Lady’s Office” by renaming it “Office of the Wife of the President”, to play the same roles former wives of Nigeria’s Presidents and heads of State had played in previous administrations.
The presidency is also set to create a job for Mrs. Aisha Buhari, who would, for now, be saddled with issues relating to women and youths in the country, a role which past First Ladies had played.
The Presidency is therefore making frantic efforts to stem criticisms that trailed reports in some Nigerian media that the wife of President Muhammadu Buhari has moved into the First Lady’s office in the Aso Villa.
Confirming this development, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Shehu Garba, had while described reports as totally false and fictitious,
quoted President Buhari to have promised “a clear difference between the role played by his wife during his tenure and that played by many previous First Ladies”.
The statement insisted that even though there was absolutely nothing wrong with Mrs. Buhari making use of the office space reserved for the First Lady, she had not done so “in her capacity” (as First Lady).
Shehu contended that under President Buhari, the office shall be completely different from what obtained in the past, adding that the era of the First Ladies issuing oil wells and licenses was gone.
“President Buhari promised that there would be a clear difference between the role played by his wife during his tenure and that played by many previous First Ladies.
“All that ostentation, ubiquitousness and arrogance we have come to expect from the office are over and done with. Change has come.
“The ideal platform from which she will be useful to Nigeria’s women and children is still being thought out. Once this has been
concluded on, Mrs. Buhari’s role will become clearer to all Nigerians.
“There will be nothing shady or hidden about it. There will be no access to public funds. It will be purely private and voluntary”, he said.
This was departure from President Buhari’s pre-election promise of scrapping the first Lady office.
Shehu went on to add that the time the only time Mrs. Buhari had to make use of the office was at the beginning of the present administration, adding that the meeting during which she hosted the wives of governors was held in a section of the Villa’s banquet hall, not in the First Lady’s office.
Admitting that the First Lady’s office was used by Mrs Buhari, Shehu said: “Her only visit to that office was at the point of the take-over of the Villa by the incoming administration.
The dilemma became more pronounced when Shehu revealed that Mrs Buhari will head the First Ladies of other countries.
He said, “Out of respect to Mrs. Buhari, the Sierra-Leonian First Lady, Mrs. SiaKoroma recently surrendered her position of head of Africa’s First Ladies to Mrs. Buhari, inviting her to take up the same seat, which Mrs. Jonathan hurriedly handed over a few weeks to the handover of her husband’s government to President Buhari.
“Again, all these things are currently under consideration and no decision has been arrived at presently,” Shehu explained.
First Ladies are usually influential but have no constitutional role, and no budgetary allocation in the federal budget. The Buhari administration is currently at a fix as to what to do with the First Lady office.