Aisha opens up on marrying Buhari as a teenager, her reaction to "belonging to the kitchen" statement

Nigeria's first lady, Aisha Buhari has offered insight into how she got married to her husband as a teenager.

The wife of President Muhammadu Buhari made some revelation in her biography launched on Thursday in Abuja, the federal capital territory.

The book, titled, ‘Aisha Buhari: Being different’, is written by Daji Sani, a presidential aide.
Aisha married Buhari in 1989. She was 18 years old at the time and Buhari already had five children from his previous marriage to Safinatu Yusuf, his late wife.

In the book, Aisha said she was unsure of what the future holds for her after being married at early age to a military general and former head of state.

"In 1989, the young lady, Aisha Halilu, got married to Muhammadu Buhari, a retired Major General and former military Head of State of Nigeria…Aisha, like any other girl-child married as a teenager, faced the challenges of adapting to womanhood,” the book stated.

“She married the kind of man any woman would want to associate herself with, a highly placed and responsible man….Married at an early age, for her, the future seemed unsure.”

The first lady also opened up on how she feels about her husband’s administration which she has often criticised.

Mrs Buhari said she speaks against the current government because of her passion for good governance.
Since Buhari came to power in 2015, Aisha has spoken about how dissatisfied she is concerning some things in the current administration on at least three occasions.

Less than two years after her husband was elected president, she threatened not to support his re-election bid if things did not change for the good of Nigerians.

In 2019, months after Buhari won a second term, Aisha claimed that “bad people” have taken over the country under her husband’s watch.

The biography noted that although she has “pointed accusing fingers” at those “sabotaging” Buhari’s intention, her actions were not meant to disrespect or publicly criticise him.

“A woman of Aisha’s status — a wife of about three decades, a mother and grandmother — does not stand to ‘criticise her husband publicly,” the book stated.

“When asked about the reason for her outburst, she clarified that she did not mean to disrespect anybody but was only expressing the truth expected of her. She added that she held such views because those around her husband were frustrating the mandate given to him.”

The book further described the first lady as “frank and straightforward”, adding that for her, “telling the truth as she sees it is important.”

“From her point of view, this is not criticism, but a call for people to do the right thing; that is, to incite positive policy change,” the author said of Aisha’s threat to withhold support for the president.

“By speaking the truth, she hopes to touch the sensibilities of those in charge and inspire them to corrective action.”

On her reaction to Buhari's comment that she belongs to the kitchen, the book noted that Aisha was never bothered about it.
President had in 2016 dropped a bomb that his wife belong to the kitchen, the living room and the other room (in an apparent reference to the bedroom).

Buhari said this at a press conference in Germany while standing with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in response to an interview Aisha granted the BBC, where she said that his government had been hijacked.

In the interview, Aisha had also said that she might not support her husband's second term bid.

“I don’t know which party my wife belongs to, but my wife belongs to my kitchen and my living room and the other room.” Buhari said.

“It is not easy to do away with opposition or people who did not follow you along your campaign trail," he continued. I hope my wife will remember that I was on the field for 12 years; I tried three times, the fourth time I managed to succeed. And I ended up the first three times in the Nigerian Supreme Court, so I claim superior knowledge over her and the rest of the opposition and I succeeded."

The statement had generated a lot of controversy at the time, with many saying Buhari did not speak well of his wife.

But Aisha “never contested the statement or queried her husband”, the biography noted.

“This is vintage Aisha Buhari. Married for decades, she understands her husband’s mindset and sense of humour, a side of him that the public may not see or appreciate,” it added. 

“However, that ‘controversy’ did not in any way discourage her from regularly and consistently intervening on national issues, particularly concerning party politics and governance.”

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