“Being Different” A Book On Nigeria’s First Lady Aisha Buhari

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I thank the organizers for selecting me to be the Chairman for the launch of this excellent book about a truly remarkable woman, First Lady, Dr. Mrs. Aisha Buhari.

Join me in congratulating the book’s author, Dr. Hajo Sani, for making this important contribution to our collective knowledge by highlighting the role the First Lady has played in our society. The author treated this task with a straightforward literary style but also with a depth of analysis a book of this nature requires.

Given the First Lady’s achievements, no one can reasonably question the role of a First Lady any longer. Remember there were those who argued that the constitution does not assign an official role to the First Lady. Because of Dr. Mrs. Aisha Buhari, their concerns have been forever laid to rest.

The First Lady has played an uplifting, unifying role both in symbol and substance. She has been a voice of conscience calling us to be our better selves for the good of the nation and for the betterment of the weakest, most vulnerable among us.

As such she has been a strong pillar of support not only to the president but also to the Nigerian people whom they both serve with such patriotic commitment and high purpose.

The role of the First Lady is instrumental to our society and to how a great number of our people relate to government. Custom and tradition may call to her in a certain way. Yet, the issues of the day may call to her in another. First Lady Aisha Buhari has done a masterful job melding the calls of tradition and the imperatives of today into a creative, benevolent role that has enriched society and the art of governance.

Many political thinkers argue the state or country is nothing but a social extension or evolution of the family. As such, if the president is the father of the national family, his spouse becomes the mother of that family.

This is why Chief Obafemi Awolowo once praised the then First Lady, Mrs. Victoria Gowon, by saying, “The hands that rock the cradle, so goes the wise saying, rule the nation. If it is not presumptuous to say so, I would like to add that the hands that tend a ruler in true affection, in large measure, rule the nation. If this is so, then the contributions of Victoria to the progress of this country thus far stand in bold and historic relief.

Because of the humility of the presidential couple, Mrs. Aisha Buhari chose not to be addressed as ‘First Lady’ at the beginning of this administration. However, this could not be sustained. Neither her role nor her individual capabilities could be downplayed very long. Mrs. Aisha Buhari has truly shown herself to be the First Lady of Nigeria in title but also by virtue of her talent and temperament.

The role of First Lady provides critical support to the public functioning of the presidency. The author thus must be commended not just for documenting the background, education, career, family and public life of Mrs. Buhari in an enjoyable, easily readable manner but also in narrating the political and constitutional context within which Mrs. Buhari has moulded the position of the First Lady in Nigeria.

This book will be a vital read to future historians and future generations who seek to understand the evolution of the Nigerian presidency as well as for those interested in the progress of women’s rights and empowerment in our land.

Against this backdrop, the title of this book, ‘Being Different’ is more than appropriate. Indeed, it may be the only title that fits. It captures the personality of the First Lady. A human being of deep convictions and feelings, she is more than passionate about her husband and her family.

You can plainly see she loves them deeply. This depth of feeling extends to a love of country. From the very onset, she was totally commitment to ensuring the success of the campaign of then candidate Buhari and later to the success of the administration of President Buhari.

She has a naturally strong connection with the average person because she speaks with sincerity and belief. We noticed this very early during the historic 2015 campaign. Thus, we convinced her to play a vocal and visible role in that groundbreaking campaign. Her efforts contributed to her husband’s success. She helped him make history during that campaign. Since coming to the office of the First Lady, she has not stopped making history.

She has been an active and dedicated voice to those whom society sometimes forgets. She gives comfort to the broken and seeks relief for the destitute. No one can doubt her concern. And her care for the wellbeing of women, children and the powerless has established the standard for the office of the First Lady for years to come.

Mrs. Buhari shows that a First Lady should not stand aloof and detached from what is happening in the country. Mrs. Buhari never shies from what she believes in. This makes her a reliable and true advisor to her beloved husband. No doubt that Mr. President’s administration has been enriched because of her active role and the teamwork that exists between husband and wife.

As I conclude, may I restate that this book is an excellent discourse on the Office of the First Lady. It is a fine handbook on the unique contribution of women to the life of the nation. Most importantly, it is a superb exposition of the life and times of Her Excellency, Dr, Mrs. Aisha Buhari.

Being Different, Dr. Mrs. Aisha Buhari has reached the highest of heights, yet she has not allowed this to change her or to turn her back on those in need.

Being Different, she has effortlessly melded impeccable style with intelligent substance, melded gracefulness with gravitas, melded public image with principled idealism.

Being Different, she has carved a new path. A path not just for herself, but one for other women to follow and for all to admire.

The more that people follow her lead, the better, more just and more compassionate this nation shall become.

If this is being different, then so be it. On behalf of all gathered here as well as the tens of millions of people whom you have touched may I say, “Thank you First Lady of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dr. Mrs. Aisha Buhari” for your invaluable contribution to the nation.

May God bless you all. May God bless our beloved Nigeria.

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