First Lady, Aisha Buhari, has been out of the country for about two months now, raising concerns at the Presidential Villa, Daily Trust findings have shown.
Multiple sources at the presidential villa said the president’s wife left the country in protest against “certain developments” at the presidency.
It was reliably gathered that the first lady, who left the country early August to Saudi Arabia to perform hajj (Muslim pilgrimage), has not returned to the country.
Muslims who participated in the hajj exercise have since returned home, but credible sources at the Villa said the president’s wife has since left Saudi Arabia for London.
“Mama (first lady) is in London. It was from Saudi Arabia that she went to London,” one source said.
Asked when she is likely to return, the source said, “I don’t know. All I know is that she is in London” Her absence became obvious after she did not appear alongside her husband at some recent official functions.
Our correspondent reports that she was conspicuously absent during the Eid-El-Kabir celebration in Daura, Katsina State. The president hosted many dignitaries including Guinean president, Alpha Conde, during the Sallah celebrations.
In early July, the first lady supported her husband to host the Ambassador Extraordinary for Nigeria-Niger Cooperation, together with his wife, Fatima at the State House.
Our correspondent observed that recently, at public events, Dr. Hajo Sani, the Senior Special Assistant to the president on administration, has been representing the president’s wife.
For instance, on September 25, she was represented at an event of the Organization of African First Ladies for Development (OAFLAD), on the sidelines of the 74th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), New York by Dr. Hajo.
According to a statement from the Director of Information to Aisha Buhari, the event was attended by first ladies of Zimbabwe, Sierra Leone, Uganda and Niger Republic.
President Buhari was one of the world leaders that attended the 74th UNGA.
However, checks on her Twitter handle @aishabuhari showed that she has remained active on the social media platform, as only six days ago she retweeted a post on the war against corruption.
Efforts to get the reaction of her media aide, Suleiman Haruna, yielded no result. A text message that reads: “In months, her excellency has been out of public glare, locally and abroad. She’s being represented by aides. Where is she?” was sent to him twice. It was first sent on Tuesday and yesterday.
The same text message was sent to a presidential spokesperson, Garba Shehu, yesterday. He replied that her spokesperson should be contacted.
Daily Trust Saturday reports that in June this year, she announced the change of the title of her office from Wife of the President to First Lady. Throughout her husband’s first tenure, her title was Wife of the President.
Earlier, Aisha had raised the alarm over the deteriorating security situation in the country. During a visit to the home state of the president, Aisha, who hails from Adamawa State, said it would be unfortunate for people who voted wholeheartedly for her husband to be allowed to be killed unnecessarily by bandits.
She said people must speak out as the killings were worrisome and that if not tackled they could end up consuming everyone.
“When the Katsina SSG spoke out, I sent it to all security outfits in the country. I told them it’s either they go and help out or allow us all to be killed. It is a must for people to come out and speak. Anything that is not right, people should say it, no matter what,” she said.
Four days to the swearing in of her husband for a second, the first lady faulted the implementation of the federal government’s Social Investment Programmes (SIP).
At an interactive program for women at the State House, Abuja, she said the program which had gulped N470.8bn, had failed in the North.
The SIPs are the N-Power, Conditional Cash Transfers, National Home-Grown School Feeding and Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programmes (GEEP).
Annually, the federal government budgets N500bn for social investment. However, in 2016, only N79.98bn was released, 2017 N140bn and in 2018, N250.4bn was released.
Previously, she had attacked her husband’s administration. She drew worldwide attention when she criticised him in an October 2016 interview with the BBC, saying she feared his administration was veering off from its mandate to the people.
She also expressed doubt that she would support him if he sought re-election unless he implemented immediate changes in personnel and policies.
But on the eve of this year’s general elections, she constituted a campaign team for Buhari despite her threats. The team, with about 700 members drawn from across the country, was inaugurated by President Buhari and played a key role in his re-election.