Nigeria: First Lady Aisha Buhari Stands by Her Man

Aisha Buhari
Aisha Buhari, wife of Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari, votes in the 2015 election in Daura, Katsina state, Nigeria, March 28, 2015. The first lady has said she is fully behind her husband. PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/Getty

The wife of Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has said she is seeking “the success of my husband’s administration,” weeks after saying she may not campaign for him at the next election.

Aisha Buhari gave an interview to the BBC earlier in October, in which she said that Buhari did not know “45 out of 50” of the people he had appointed as ministers and government officials. The first lady also said that she would not campaign for her husband ahead of the next election in 2019 “if things continue like this.”

The interview prompted a sharp response from Buhari. When asked about her comments, the Nigerian president—who was sharing a platform with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin at the time—said that his wife “belongs to my kitchen and my living room and the other room.” Buhari’s comments were widely criticized by Nigerians on Twitter using #TheOtherRoom.

The first lady visited several areas in Borno state Thursday. The northeastern state has been at the epicenter of Boko Haram’s armed insurgency against the Nigerian state: more than 26,000 people have died in Borno since May 2011, according to the Council on Foreign Relations’ Nigeria Security Tracker.

“On our campaign promises to Nigerians, especially to the people of Borno state, we thank Almighty Allah for giving us the opportunity of beginning to fulfill these promises,” said Aisha Buhari on Thursday, Nigeria’s Premium Times reported.

The first lady added that the “essence of being a good leader” was trying to fulfil promises. “That is what we are all after. And what I am after in particular is the success of my husband’s administration,” she added.

Since Buhari came to power in May 2015, the Nigerian military and regional forces have driven Boko Haram back to its northeastern hideout of the Sambisa forest. The group now controls little territory but continues to carry out sporadic guerrilla attacks.

Aisha Buhari praised her husband’s success in tackling Boko Haram in the original BBC interview. “No one is complaining about being attacked in their own homes...Even kids in Maiduguri have returned to schools,” said the first lady, referring to the capital of Borno state.