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Aishagate: We Are Better Than This

by Isiyaku Ahmed
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By Prof. Usman Yusuf

Whereas our elected representatives are fair game for criticisms while in office, I have always considered commenting on or criticizing their families as no-go areas. But, recent actions by the First Lady Mrs. Aisha Buhari required a review of this self-censorship.

It is no longer news that Mrs. Buhari ordered the illegal abduction, transportation to Abuja, detention, and torture of a 23-year-old young man called Aminu Mohammed Adamu who is a final year student at the Department of Environmental Management of the Federal University of Dutse in Jigawa State.

He is said to have been brought to Mrs. Buhari at the Presidential Villa where he was allegedly beaten by the First Lady before handing him over to her “Gestapo”.

He was then detained and tortured at an undisclosed location where he was kept incommunicado for days with no access to his family or Lawyers. He was secretly arraigned before a Court in Abuja without legal representation and remanded in prison.

Did Aminu kill someone to deserve such lethal force of the state on him, one might ask? His only offense was that he bruised the First Lady’s ego by posting a tweet in Hausa language saying that she has gained so much weight because she has fed fat on people’s commonwealth.

As a parent, I will be the first to admit that Aminu’s behavior was absolutely wrong. If God forbid, any of my children were to do what he did, I would be the first to call him to order by asking him to pull down the tweet and offer an immediate apology to the First Lady through the same medium.

I would also have extended my apologies to her as a father because insulting any elder does not represent our upbringing.

I have repeatedly said that elders all across the country are losing control of their youths. Social media is providing our youth a medium to say and do things that are in complete contradiction to their upbringing and faiths. I am sure Aminu’s parents are not proud of his actions.

However, the First Lady’s response was way out of proportion to the perceived insult. It is no exaggeration to say that Mrs. Buhari has not lived up to the dignity of the office she occupies.

In the almost 8 years in the office, she has not really warmed herself into the hearts of Nigerians particularly women and the youth who are the largest demographics.

Being married to a President that prides himself on doing things according to the rules of Law, the First Lady’s behavior must be a big blow to him, especially in the twilight years of his Administration. His tenure and family will forever be remembered for this shameful blatant abuse of human rights. This is certainly not the proudest moment for the President’s family.

The First Lady’s action has unfortunately stirred the hornet’s nest by igniting the fury of Nigerian youth against her person and her family. She has now become an object of ridicule on social media. A First Lady is usually looked up to as the mother of the nation and an ambassador for women but alas, Mrs. Buhari has not lived up to such expectations.

Whichever arm of our security services the First Lady used for such an inhumane and illegal act of abducting and torturing a citizen, should be ashamed of itself.

At a time when Nigerians see these security services as falling short in their responsibilities of protecting and securing their lives and property against marauding bandits and Boko Haram terrorists, these same security services could track down the calls of this young student and send operatives hundreds of kilometers away to abduct him Gestapo style while unable to do same to rescue hundreds of our children who have been in captivity some for years in the hands of terrorists all across Northern Nigeria.

There are more sensible and dignified ways for the First Lady and her handlers to have handled the situation if she could not ignore it as she should have. Even though Nigerians have lost faith and confidence in their political leaders, with good reasons too, I might add, they still hold their elders and traditional and religious leaders in high esteem.

Aminu and his father could have discretely been invited by either the Emir of Azare in Bauchi state where he hails from or the Emir of Dutse where he resides. Any of these respected Emirs would have handled this by expressing their strong displeasure with his action, asking him to immediately take down the tweet, offer the First Lady an apology through the same medium and undertake not to do any such thing again. If he repeats it again, he will then face the full force of the law.

I am glad the President has finally stepped in and Aminu has been released, I also heard that the President will meet with him at the Villa on Saturday 3rd December 2022. 

I am sure the President will do the right thing by apologizing to him on behalf of his wife and family. I have read the belated and seemingly forced apology from the First Lady on social media.

I hope and pray that Aminu and his family will accept the President’s reach out in good faith and resist any attempt by mischief makers to drag this any further. 

There is no place in our democracy for such impunity and abuse of office. The President has done the right thing and I hope lessons have been learned.

It is time to move on to the serious task of rebuilding our nation for our children and grandchildren.

Prof. Yusuf is a Professor of Haematology-Oncology and Bone Marrow Transplantation.

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