By Ali Abare
One would guess that a lot of water has passed under the bridge since the incidence of the arrest and prosecution of a final year student of the Federal University Dutse, in Jigawa State, Aminu Muhammad.
Both the mainstream and social media have recently trended with the news of the First Lady’s arrest, detention and subsequent prosecution of Muhammad, after the student was arrested by the police on November 18, 2022.
The student, who hails from Azare, Bauchi State, was arrested over his comment on the social media when he tweeted in Hausa in June 2022 that, “Su mama anchi kudin talkawa ankoshi”, accompanied by the photo of the first lady.
The arrest and detention of Muhammad by the police subsequently led to a widespread condemnation from activists, Amnesty International, the National Association of Nigerian Students, and other citizens.
The level of condemnation by a section of Nigerians that followed the prosecution of the student by the first lady typifies the derision with which many Nigerians hold their leaders. Apparently, there is apparent joy among Nigerians, including supposedly educated young Nigerians, in ridiculing our leaders.
Without taking a breathe to consider the weight of the accusation by Muhammad in his tweet and the injury it may have caused to Hajiya Aisha Buhari, instead, she was further subjected to harassment by those who actually believed Muhammad, but who by his comment, truly exposed his total ignorance about the first lady.
What is even more pathetic is that, indeed, there are many Nigerians, including journalists, who sincerely believed him and who went out of their way, to subject Aisha Buhari to all manner of ridicule.
It’s obvious that some Nigerians take consolation only in badgering our leaders, especially since President Muhammadu Buhari made his honest comment on hunger and the need for Nigerians to go back to the farm.
Lots of folks who failed to understand the honesty in President Buhari’s remarks, took it upon themselves to hound the President and his family. Aisha Buhari’s decision to try to salvage her image and that of her family by taking Muhammad to court, was further catalyst for others to harangue the first family.
Instead of recognizing her fundamental right to challenge Muhammad’s claim, Aisha Buhari was however sneered at by a population that wantonly, needlessly harbours disrespect and regard leadership with disdain and outright contempt.
Can Aminu Muhammad prove his claim against the first lady before a court of law? Or is it because there is no stringent regulation controlling the social media such that citizens can go public with every inconceivable aspersion and still get away free?
Those who went for the jugular of the first lady, when all she was after was to clear her name from Muhammad’s weighty allegation, are actually misdirecting their angst. Aisha Buhari did not asked hungry Nigerians to take to farming and agriculture. Such people should be man enough to hassle her husband who made the comment.
With every sense of the word, President Buhari is the last Nigerian leader anyone could accuse of misappropriating pubic funds. He may have his shortcomings as a leader and as a human being but no one can accuse Buhari of stealing public funds.
Aisha Buhari is only his wife. She has no any direct control in the management of the country’s resources because she wasn’t elected to hold any political office. So how come Muhammad could accuse her of ‘cin kudin talaka’?
The allegation by Muhammad against Aisha Buhari is most unfortunate and at worst, the true manifestation of the fallen standards of education in the country. That a university student, a final year student for that matter, could resort to making spurious claim such as he did against the first lady. It is also a general reflection of the contempt with which some ill motivated individuals hold our leaders, obviously out of sheer disdain.
President Buhari was first a petroleum minister. Then he became military head of state, Chairman Petroleum Task Fund under the regime of General Sani Abacha. In 2015, he became Nigeria’s President. Buhari is acclaimed globally as the most transparent, accountable and incorruptible leader.
Who then is Aminu Muhammad to make such weighty allegation about Aisha Buhari, even if as he said, the first lady has become rotund. Did Muhammad expect Aisha Buhari to go hungry and lean? At least, the young man should accord her respect even if he does not consider her as the mother of the nation.
Some people are quick to make reference to former Nigeria’s first lady, Dame Patience Jonathan, who suffered countless derision from Nigerians. Aisha Buhari and the former first lady are entirely different personalities. If Dame Patience Jonathan could stomach the insults heaped on her by Nigerians, Aisha Buhari could not because of her upbringing, background and guiding principles.
For one, Muhammad’s claim against the first lady is a total negation of the role Aisha Buhari continue to play, as the conscience of the Buhari administration. Or has Muhammad and his co-travellers easily forgotten the first lady’s moralizing entreaties which continue to endear her to Nigerians, especially whenever she draws the attention of her husband to the plight of the common people. Many a times, she made certain comments that appealed to Nigerians and which contributed towards nation building.
It however took the comment made by her husband, calling on Nigerians to go back to the Farms, for cowards like Aminu Muhammad to attack Aisha Buhari and to try to blame her for a crime she did not commit.
Maybe Aisha Buhari’s background, with her grandfather, Alhaji Muhammadu Buhari being Nigeria’s first minister of defence and her father being a civil engineer, is sufficient to expose Muhammad’s infraction.
Contrary to his claim, Aisha Buhari did not grow fat on public funds. She has the wherewithal to live the type of lifestyle that befits her status. Muhammad and others like him should work hard instead of transferring their aggression on a mother who keeps trying her best to assist her husband to lead well.
It’s in this regard that Aisha Buhari should be appreciated for withdrawing her case against the student, obviously not because she succumbed to the pressure from a misguided few but because as a mother, she has the propensity to tamper justice with mercy.
Finally, Nigerians must be able to respect their leaders. No one can deny Nigerians the right to hold their leaders accountable but it should be made clear, that it is unacceptable for the citizens to make spurious claims against any person in leadership, especially that Aisha Buhari constitutionally does not hold any public office and as such is in no position to misappropriate public funds. If Aisha Buhari chose to become fatter, she has the wherewithal to do that.
We will certainly keep track of Muhammad with his lean and hungry feature through the years. We will remind him when he graduated and begin to work, when he grows bigger and more rotund from the opportunities that lay ahead of him. It was providence that made Aisha Buhari what she is today and no human being is capable of denying her Allah’s favour in her life.
Abare writes from Lafia, Nasarawa State.