First Lady, Dr. Aisha Buhari’s Book Launch Titled “Aisha Buhari Being Different”

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Dr. Hajo Sanni has written a most engaging book on an incredibly fascinating person, Her Excellency, Aisha Buhari, Nigeria’s First Lady.

It is unlikely that any First Lady in Nigeria’s history has in a short few years, captured the imagination of Nigerians as profoundly as Aisha Buhari. She is, of course, the first First Lady to be on Twitter, Instagram, and other social media platforms, getting her unfiltered views across to the Nigerian people and she’s probably the first to receive in real-time, the opinions of Nigerians on her views.

With her views forthright, crisp, truthful and every once in a while controversial, she has established an ongoing conversation with the Nigerian people on the issues that concern them most, issues that concern us the most: good governance, security, putting food on the table, education of our children, prompt payment of pensions to army veterans, and drug abuse, violation and victimization of women.

And every once in a while, she airs her own personal struggles, her annoyance, in a manner probably unprecedented in the role of First Lady anywhere.

There is no question that Aisha Buhari is different; her difference has been empowering for the Nigerian people and there is never any question that her comments come from a good place, a place of genuine love and respect for the Nigerian people and our several concerns.

Hajo Sanni’s book seeks to document the practical work she has done in the past five years, but it begins with a detailed and sensitive chronicle of her childhood years and her growth as a woman, wife and mother.

It also highlights her evolution from a silent supporter of her husband’s political adventures to an active mobilizer and campaigner that played a major role in selling him to the Nigerian electorate. Then we also read in the book, how as First Lady, she founded the “Future Assured” initiative, promoting the welfare of women, youth and children and driven by the Aisha Buhari Foundation.

The “Future Assured” initiative is inspired by her conviction that empowering women is a direct way of promoting the economic and social progress of a nation. We are also given a good picture of this steadfast advocate of women’s health issues, who has championed improved access to healthcare for women, especially in respect of maternal health with the aim of reducing maternal mortality, particularly in rural communities.

We understand the roots of her relentless pursuit in these past years of the empowerment of women, especially through education, the need for young girls to get primary and secondary school education before getting married. We understand her stand that no girl should get married before the age of 17, it is from her own experience being married at 19, and her single-mindedness and determination in ensuring that her educational pursuits were not aborted by her obligations as a wife and mother.

We also get a glimpse of the role she considers primary, being “Mum-in-Chief” to Halima, Yusuf, Zara, Hanan, Chuchu, and now many grandchildren. Her personal attention to the lives of each of her children, and her fierce protection of their privacy and individuality is a lesson in bringing up children under the scrutiny of a sometimes mischievous social media.

Perhaps because of the undefined nature of their positions, it was (former US First Lady) Michelle Obama who famously said that there is no handbook on how to be a First Lady, and sometimes the uncertain impact of their roles on the affairs of state, First Ladies quickly fade into obscurity when the curtains of time are drawn on the tenure of the administration of their husbands.

The result of this is that records and lessons of consequence that could benefit oncoming generations and enrich our understanding of history is regrettably lost. But it is unlikely that Aisha Buhari would ever be forgotten and even if there was a chance of this happening, this well written attempt to document her life, times, and contributions as First Lady to national life through the causes that she has promoted removes that possibility.

So the author Dr. Hajo Sanni, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Administration and Women Affairs deserves our commendation for the publication of this important addition to the literary canon on our public life and to Nigerian biographical history.

History has shown that it doesn’t matter how many degrees you have or how many titles precede or honors follow your name, or how high the position you hold, the rare privilege of public service can only be justified by courage, integrity and selflessness. To these, Aisha Buhari adds being yourself, being different.

Let me end with the words of Aisha Buhari’s doting sweetheart, the man who knows her best and the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari and I quote him “Aisha as the world has come to know her is kind-hearted, this made her transition to philanthropy and humanitarianism easy. When she became First Lady, her protective mien was exerted when women, children, and other vulnerable people are abused. I have observed with keen interest, as she addresses many of the social concerns that have given her sleepless nights. She has therefore been a worthy partner and a beacon for some of the good things that Nigerians have come to identify with our government.”

And I concur, I agree.

Thank you very much and God bless Nigeria!

God bless you, Aisha Buhari!