Aisha Buhari and her first Aso Rock dinner by Anule Emmanuel

Wife of the President, Mrs. Aisha Muhammadu Buhari, penultimate Saturday hosted All Progressives Congress women and youths to what was described as an appreciation dinner at the Aso Rock conference center in the presidential villa. The elaborate reception was put together to thank APC stakeholders for tirelessly working to ensure her husband’s victory in the March 28 presidential election.

As expected, the large hall inside the conference center which was tastefully decorated with the white and blue colors of the APC was filled beyond capacity. The women were flamboyantly-dressed, so gorgeous to attract anyone’s attention. Interestingly too, they did not disappoint any one at the event in seizing the unique opportunity to flaunt their wealth in attires. It was appearance in the definitive.

They were invited from across the 36 states of the Federation. As early as 7:30 pm, the guests had started trooping into the venue waiting for the chief host, wife of the President. Most of the women particularly those outside of Abuja were conveyed to the venue in the large capacity buses popularly called ‘El-Rufai buses’ owned by the Abuja Urban Mass Transport Company, an agency under the Federal Capital Territory Administration. The organisers took time to arrange the tables in the hall with each one labeled against delegates from each state.
Although, attendance at the event was strictly by invitation, as early as 8:00pm, every seat was occupied leaving several people with the option to stand or pair with those who could accommodate them.

No one wanted to be left out of the hall. For most of them, that was a rare opportunity in the last five years to enter the villa and to have a meal at the presidential villa. Some conversed in low tones saying, “At least, let me also eat this villa food. It’s been long that I last came to the presidential villa.” Since it was an appreciation dinner, the visitors were also expecting to receive gift items. Fortunately, they were not disappointed. While the dinner was being served, the ushers had already started distributing the gifts raped in APC’s corporate paper bags ranging from clothes and kitchen utensils.

 The excitement on the faces of the women as they collected the items was not hidden. As if to say, ‘we will vote for your husband again’. One discussion which dominated amongst the guests was why Aisha decided to be addressed simply as ‘Mrs. Aisha Muhammadu Buhari wife of the President’ instead of First Lady, Federal Republic of Nigeria. Her predecessor and other wives of Nigerian leaders were so regarded in addition to being referred to as mothers of the nation. Maybe, it is because the President had promised that there would be no such office as that of the First Lady during his campaigns, they also wondered.

Although, President Buhari had made the declaration during his campaigns, he rescinded at some point in order not to lose the several votes of women across the country. Among notable guests at the dinner were the APC National Women Leader, Hajia Ramatu Tijani, former governor of Rivers State Chibuike Rotimi Ameachi who also served as chairman. Others are wife of the Imo State governor Mrs. Nkechi Okorocha, Wife of the APC national chairman, Victoria John Odigie-Oyegun, wife of Speaker of the House of

Representatives Gimbia Dogara and wife of the Senate President Toyin Saraki.

 Everyone including Ameachi who spoke at the event, extolled the virtues of APC women and their resilience in the last elections, particularly those at the grassroots. What was certain in the goodwill messages that poured in, was the fact that President Buhari will also need to push further the policy on affirmative action, giving women more opportunities in governance and in the political space. …And that her bombshell
When it was her turn to speak, Mrs. Buhari bared her mind on what she expects from her husband’s well wishers, friends, associates and party stalwarts. The President’s wife understands her husband so well and of course, more than every Nigerian. She knows too that he is in for a serious business having prepared for the plum job for several years.

President Buhari indeed, must have been nursing the dream to rule Nigeria since 1999 as a civilian president. He made the first attempt in 2003, the second attempt in 2007, the third attempt in 2011 and hit the ground again in 2015 to clinch the most exalted office in the land. Armed with the task ahead and the unshaken principles of her husband, as he leads the country for trhe next four years, Mrs. Buhari also understands that bad influence could derail one’s focus and even that of a leader.

After pouring praises on the APC women for standing strongly beside her husband in ensuring his victory and that of the party in the last election, she warned those hovering around President Buhari with clandestine and parochial interests to know that the game has changed, it is not business as usual.

Her revelation that in the past, some aides allegedly received bribes of $50,000 from each visitor who wanted to see the president or the First Lady proves the point that integrity would be the watchword of this government particularly in the presidency. Hear her out;

“We are praying and hoping that people around him should know that it took him 12 years to get to that position and they must know that they are coming to serve the masses, not General Buhari in person.

 It is the people that are around him that will determine the political health of our state.” This statement did not come without a loud ovation from the guests at the well attended dinner.

Considering her remarks, it becomes clearer on why the Duara-born General is taking his time to make key appointments. In shopping for his cabinet members, the President has insisted that only persons with impeccable character would be given the opportunity.

 If this is achieved, Nigerians will watch closely how effective the President will be able to execute his promised war against corruption as well as tackle other numerous economic and security challenges facing the country.

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