Time to look at the Office of the First Lady

June 22, 2020
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Barely 48 hours after Nigeria marked her 21st independence anniversary of uninterrupted democracy which didn’t go without a beautiful speech by President Muhammadu Buhari and an avalanche of promises from fellow leaders, it was reported that the president’s wife, Aisha Buhari’s aide turned the villa to the shooting ground.  This is another case of the wife of an elected leader exercising the power not vested in her office.

From history, it is nothing new; from Stella Obasanjo to Turai Yar’adua, Patience Jonathan and eventually Aisha, there is a pattern of our first ladies at one time or the other taking the law into their hands.

The reality is that the office of the first lady is not only unconstitutional but has become a hub of abnormalities. What this connotes is a trend of abuse of that position and the need to be cast into the dustbin of history. Nigerians were promised the abolition of the Office of the First Lady, only for Aisha Buhari to make an official announcement a few years later, she was ready to assume the office. Despite not being qualified statutorily for a budget, the funds going down there in the name of one pet project or the other are indescribable. The number of aides and other perks of office have proved a drain on the nation’s lean resources.

Aside from being  unconstitutional, it encourages abuse of power and is also becoming the breeding ground for corruption. The office has also largely failed in her supposed traditional roles of mothering the nation.

Obviously, without meaning to objectify or ridicule women, African women have a great history of being loyal, supportive, and understanding. But the women who lust for fame, power and money cannot be said to remain true to this commitment, and are more bad of influence than role models.

Instead of the Office of the First Lady, what we practically have is an extension of the office of the president. This cannot continue.

Nigerians need to speak in accord against this anomaly. The office has done more harm than good. Although I believe in democracy, it doesn’t include the office of the First Lady.

We should raise our voice in objection to this abuse of authority, and save the nation the disgrace the office attracts.

  • Ibraheem Abdullateef, Kwara State.

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