Vice President Yemi Osinbajo Thursday extolled the virtues of wife of the President Mrs Aisha Muhammadu Buhari, saying she has redefined the role of the office of the First Lady of the country.
Speaking at the public presentation of a book in her honour titled “Aisha Buhari: Being Different,” written by Senior Special Assistant to the President on Administration and Women Affairs, Dr Hajo Sani, held at the State House Banquet Hall in Abuja, Osinbajo said Aisha Buhari has been an unusual occupier of the office.
He said the First Lady has endeared herself to Nigerians by stepping outside the box of what used to be the personage and traditional roles in Nigeria’s presidential history.
He said she has also regaled Nigerians with many firsts, including keeping Nigerians updated with the activities of her office or how she feels on an issue via the social media outlets and connecting with the public in real-time.
“Dr Hajo Sani has written a most engaging book on an incredibly fascinating person, Her Excellency Aisha Buhari, Nigeria’s First Lady. It’s unlikely that any First Lady in Nigeria’s history has, in such a few short years, captured the imagination of Nigerians as profoundly as Aisha Buhari.
“She’s, of course, the first First Lady to be on Twitter, on Instagram, and other social media platforms, getting her unfiltered views across to the Nigerian people and she’s probably the first to receive, in real time, the opinions of Nigerians on her views.
“With her views, forthright, crisp, truthful and once in a while controversial, she has established an ongoing conversation with the Nigerian people. The issues that concern them most, the issues that concern us the most; good governance, security, putting food on the table, the education of our children, prompt payment of pensions to army veterans, drug abuse, the violation and victimisation of women and every once in a while she airs her own personal struggles, her annoyance, in a manner, probably unprecedented in the role of the First Lady anywhere.
“There is no question that Aisha Buhari is different. Her difference has been empowering for the Nigerian people and there is never any question that her comments come from a good place, a place of genuine love and respect for the Nigerian people and our several concerns,” he said.
The Vice President quoting President Muhammadu Buhari’s description of his wife said: “Aisha, as the world has come to know her, is kind hearted. This made her transition to philanthropy and humanitarianism easily. When she became First Lady, her protective mien was exerted when women, children and other vulnerable people are abused.
“I’ve observed with kin interest as she addresses many of the social concerns that have given her sleepless nights. She has therefore been a worthy partner and a beacon for some of the good things that Nigerians have come to identify with our government’, and and I concur. I agree.”
Dissecting the literary work of the writer of the book, the Vice President said the work has summarised the past five years of the life of the First Lady in her husband’s administration. He said the book explores the various aspects of the First Lady’s life; growing years, home front, life in public office, various sweet and sour encounters, as well as her philosophies and humanitarian ventures.
“Hajo Sani’s book seeks to document the practical work that she has also done in the past five years, but it begins with a detailed, and I must say, sensitive chronicle of her childhood years and her growth as a woman, a wife and a mother.
“It also highlights her evolution from a silent supporter of her husband’s political adventures to an active mobilizer and campaigner who played a major role in selling him to the Nigerian electorate.
“Then we also read in the book how, as First Lady, she founded the Future Assured Initiative, which promotes the welfare of women, of youth and children, driven by the Aisha Buhari Foundation. The Future Assured Initiative is inspired by her conviction that empowering women is a direct way of promoting the economic and social progress of a nation.
“We are also given a good picture of this steadfast advocate of women’s health issues, who has championed improved access to health care for women, especially in respect of maternal health, with the aim of reducing maternal mortality, particularly in rural communities,” he said.
On the First Lady’s girl child advocacy and her stand that no girl should be given out in marriage before accomplishing primary and secondary schools education, the Vice President said: “We understand the roots of her relentless pursuit in these past years of the empowerment of women, especially through education, the need for young girls to get primary and secondary education before getting married.
“We understand her stand that no girl should get married before the age of 17. It is from her own experience of being married at 19 and her single mindedness and determination in ensuring that our educational pursuits were not aborted by her obligations as a wife and mother.
“We also get a glimpse of the role she considers primary the, to borrow the expression, Mum-in-Chief to Halima, to Yusuf, to Zarah, to Hanan and Chuchu, and now many grandchildren.
“Her personal attention in the lives of her children, each and every one of them, and her fierce protection of their privacy and individuality, is a lesson in bringing up children under the scrutiny of a sometimes mischievous press.
“Perhaps because of the undefined nature of their positions, and it was Michelle Obama who said famously that, there is no handbook on how to be a First Lady and sometimes the uncertain impact of their rules on the affairs of state.
“First Ladies may quickly fade into obscurity, when the curtains of time are drawn on the tenure of the administration are their husbands. The result is that the records and lessons of consequence that could benefit oncoming generations and enrich our understanding of history are regrettably lost.
“But it’s unlikely that Aisha Buhari would ever be forgotten and even if there was a chance of this happening, this well written attempt to document her life and times and her contributions as First Lady to national life, through the causes that she has promoted, removes that possibility.
“So therefore, Dr. Hajo Sani, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Administration and Women’s Affairs, deserves our commendation for the publication of this very important addition to the literary canon on our public life and also to Nigeria’s biographical history.
“History has shown that it doesn’t matter how many degrees you have, or how many titles precede or honours follow your name, or how high the position you hold, the rare privilege of public service can only be justified by courage, integrity, and selflessness. To these, Aisha Buhari adds being yourself, being different.”
The book presentation was attended by many dignitaries including the national leader of All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, who was chairman of the occasion; Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha, who was represented by the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation (HCSF); Deputy Senate President, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege; Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF), Dr Kayode Fayemi;
Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (recorded message); Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN), Dr Amina Muhammed (recorded message).
Wife of the Vice President, Mrs Dolapo Osinbajo; former First Lady, Dr. Patience Jonathan; former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs Pastor Godsday Orubebe; the Ooni of Ife, Imperial Majesty, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi; the Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence, Sa’ad Abubakar III; and the wife of former Vice President Amina Sambo, among others.