Most if not all of the past wives of Nigerian presidents loved to be addressed as first lady, beginning from the wife of Ibrahim Babaginda. The office of the first lady became even more prominent and powerful with the wife of the incumbent and honourable president, Patience Jonathan. She wielded great influence that it appears that the saying, “the fear of Patience Jonathan is the beginning of wisdom” is very true for any politician who really wants to be noticed and gain favour from Aso Rock.
However, with a new government coming in May 29 this year, in the person of Muhammadu Buhari, whose wife is Aisha Buhari, the office of the first lady may go into extinction. Aisha Buhari has claimed not to be interested in the name “First Lady.” She preferred to be called the wife of the president. She appears to be a humble, learned and a disciplined woman. A very opposite of the incumbent first lady who so far is known for her controversial and unguarded utterances.
The term “First Lady” is an unofficial title for a President’s wife. But in Nigeria it has received near-official status because funding and staff have been allocated to First Ladies since independence.
However, the Nigerian Constitution does not in any way provide for the “office” of the First Lady. This was the reason given by the president-elect, Muhammadu Buhari, when he said during an interview with Daily Trust in December 2014 that there would be no such office during his regime.
“The [office of] First Lady is not in the constitution, so there’s no official role for them,” Buhari said.
It is worth mentioning that Aisha Buhari also expressed support for her husband’s position. Speaking during the inauguration of the All Progressives Congress Women Campaign Council in January, she said:
“If the office of the first lady is constitutionally recognized, he will not tamper with it but if it is not, that’s okay. For me I will perform my duties and role as the wife of the President of Nigeria traditionally.”
Meanwile, Patience Jonathan, the wife of the current leader of the country, has recently called on Nigerian women to work with Aisha Buhari and give her the supreme support to make her succeed in her new assignment.
If you want to know Mrs Buhari better, watch the recent interview with her.