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Aisha Buhari meeting with former first ladies not politics – Presidency





The Presidency on Saturday doused speculation of political undertones in the series of meetings the First Lady, Aisha Buhari, had held with her predecessors lately.

Mrs Buhari lately started inviting former first ladies to the Presidential Villa, Abuja, where they would hold lengthy talks.

Some of the first ladies last saw the State House when their husbands left the seat of power and never returned to the place again until Mrs Buhari’s invitation.

The last of the first ladies to meet with Mrs Buhari was her immediate predecessor, Mrs Patience Jonathan, who visited her on Monday, February 10.

She had previously invited more first ladies to such meetings, including Turai, the wife of the late President Umar Yar’Adua.

But the Presidency said Aisha was meeting with the former occupants of her office to “learn from their experiences” so that she could improve on the duties of the office.

The Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity (Office of the First Lady), Mr Aliyu Abdullahi, told newsmen that each of the former first ladies had one pet project or the other, adding that she wanted to share in their knowledge.

He explained that the learning process would help ensure that her own pet projects would outlive her stay in office.

Abdullahi, who denied that the meetings were political, stated further, “With Turai Yar’Adua for instance, they discussed gender violence, the plight of the underprivileged and political participation by women and to hear their views on issues when they were in the office.

“Almost all the past first ladies had the same goals of promoting the welfare, well-being and health of children, the poor and women. Each one of them wanted to leave the office better than they met it.

“So, it stands to reason that when you work with other occupants of the office, you stand to benefit from their experience. That was what these meetings were about.”

According to the Presidency, Mrs Buhari plans to make a difference by having a “solid structure” to sustain her pet projects beyond her stay in office, like the Aisha Buhari Foundation and the Future Assured Initiative.

Abdullahi added, “If you look at some of the former first ladies, they just had the pet projects, but they didn’t have a sustained platform.

“The difference is, there is now Aisha Buhari Foundation, then there is the Future Assured Initiative as a vehicle and others on the foundation.

“So, the foundation, which has funding support from partners like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, will outlive the founder even if the projects go after the founder has left office.

“The issue of politics doesn’t even come. Politics how?”

After her February 10 meeting with Mrs Jonathan, the President’s wife went to her Facebook page and wrote that their discussions centred on women participation in politics, girl-child education and Mrs Jonathan’s pet project, ‘Women for Change.’

She stated, “I got to hear her experience during her tenure and listened to her perspectives on the issues affecting women and children in society.

“It was really nice having her around and I look forward to having more of such moments.”

It was the first visit by Patience to the State House since her husband lost the 2015 presidential poll and handed over power to the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd), on May 29.

Oh her part, Turai had vacated the State House following her husband’s death in May, 2010, did not pay any visit to the Villa during the tenure of former President Goodluck Jonathan, who succeeded her husband.

Patience took over from Turai as first lady, while Aisha assumed the role after Patience’s exit.

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Chuka (Webby) Aniemeka
Chuka (Webby) Aniemeka

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