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Excerpts from Aisha Buhari’s ‘Being Different’

In his foreword to the book, Buhari lists the concerns as issues around abuse of women and vulnerable people.

The biography of the First Lady, Aisha Buhari, titled: ‘Aisha Buhari: Being Different’ written by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Administration and Women Affairs, Dr Hajo Sani, has provided more insights into what makes her thick and exceptional both as a private citizen and occupant of the nation’s most powerful residence. Some highlights of the book are presented below:

Social concerns that give Aisha sleepless nights, by Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari explains that his wife is kind-hearted and has sleepless nights over some social concerns which she is keen to address.

In his foreword to the book, Buhari lists the concerns as issues around abuse of women and vulnerable people.

“This book ‘Aisha Buhari: Being Different’ by Hajo Sani, presents an opportunity for me to say a few words about Aisha, my wife, with whom I have shared three decades of my life, with five great children,” Buhari wrote.

“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 also translates to the special energy she exerts when women, children, and vulnerable people are abused. I have observed with keen interest as she addresses many of the social concerns that have given her sleepless nights.

“Her programme, FUTURE ASSURED, has provided her with a special vehicle to actualise her dreams: reaching the poor, sick and underprivileged families to improve their well-being, sometimes in remote areas, especially IDPs.

“The stance she has taken in defence of women in our society across our rich ethnic diversity also ranks very high. This plays a significant role in her ability to organise and coordinate like-minded people around a singular agenda.

“All these have added impetus to the effort of the government in improving the lives of Nigerians through a more robust economy and a nation worthy of our love and pride.”

Surviving early marriage

In the new book, First Lady Aisha Buhari explains how she survived after getting married at an early age.

The First Lady got married to President Buhari in 1989 when she was 18 years old.

She says in the book that the future seemed unsure when she got married as a teenager but the spirit of optimism made her conquer fear and worries.

Describing Buhari as the kind of man any woman will want to marry, she said her family values played a significant role in seeing her through.

“In many villages in Northern Nigeria, educating a girl is not considered a priority. In fact, early marriage affects every eighth girl. According to UNICEF, one in seven girls is reported to give birth by age 17. The easiest justification for this practice is that it serves as a strategy for reducing the burden on the family,” the book narrates.

“It is also viewed as a way of protecting the sanctity of the girl-child. Another report shows that child marriage occurs more frequently among girls who are the least educated and poorest, and who are living in rural areas.”

The above scenario was the kind of social-cultural background that Aisha was born into and raised. Married at an early age, for her, the future seemed unsure.

“But the hope in her mind is massive. Interestingly, fate shone on her with the splendor of an enlightened gentleman. She married the kind of man any woman would want to associate herself with, a highly placed and responsible man. Even though this automatically placed her on the path of greatness, her family values have been the key influence in her life to this day.

“In 1989, the young lady, Aisha Halilu, got married to Muhammadu Buhari, a retired Major General and former military Head of State of Nigeria. Marriage as an institution moves at an undulating pace, full of uncertainties. The ability to surmount the challenges and move on to an unknown destination is crucial in marriage. Aisha, like any other girl-child married as a teenager, faced the challenges of adapting to womanhood.”

Choice of private clinic over foreign medicals

First Lady Aisha Buhari in the new book explains her decision to receive treatment at a private clinic in Nigeria by rejecting the idea of going to London after falling ill amid the condition of the Aso Rock Clinic in Abuja.

“Another issue that stirred controversy was her statement on 9 October, 2017, at a stakeholders’ meeting on Reproductive Maternal, Nutrition, Child Advocacy and Health, and Nutrition (RMNCAHN) at the State House, Abuja, in which she spoke about issues of national importance concerning healthcare services. She found it appalling that when she fell ill, she was advised to travel to London for treatment, though she refused,” she says in the book.

“Unfortunately, the State House clinic at Aso Rock had not been functioning efficiently to provide needed medical services to the first family and other government functionaries.

“It was on this note that she condemned the management of the clinic, adding that the health centre did not have the facilities to treat patients. According to her, she had to visit a private clinic after she discovered that the x-ray machine of the State House clinic was not working. She has been consistent in warning politicians against politicising the issues of health and women empowerment.”

My mother is loving, caring fighter- Yusuf Buhari

The son of President Muhammadu Buhari, Yusuf Buhari, has described his mother as a loving, caring woman and a fighter.

Writing in the recently launched book, he said he does not do anything without telling his mother, though he had taken some decisions she disagreed with.

“She is very loving and caring. I call her a doctor, an unofficial doctor. She has a prescription for everyone’s problems; she has a solution up her sleeves for whatever issues may be brought before her. She is very funny, and she is a fighter, whom no one should attempt to disagree with as well. She goes all the way, till she sees the end of issues. She makes her point known and finds a way to make it stick,” Yusuf is quoted to have said.

“She has dedicated most of her life, if not all, to Adda, Halima, Zahrah, Hanan and she has been there for us, all the time. Her nurturing and love have been nothing short of divine as she gives of herself time and time again, to ensure that we are whole.

“We really don’t know how to appreciate her, because nothing anyone can do right now, will be enough to equal her attention and sacrifice. It will take a lifetime to pay her back, even more, I believe.

“She has a keen sense of things and tends to know everything. She is also very involved in and inquisitive about our lives as individuals. She actually wants to know it all, and she has the right advice to offer in most cases. I can’t do anything without telling her, and even when I know she will disagree, I still have to tell her.

“Sometimes, when she disagrees, I still go ahead to do what I want and then she will let me learn the hard way, still with no judgment.”

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