President Muhammadu Buhari’s household has generated several scandals and raised not a few national eyebrows since it took up residency in the Presidential Villa.
Most if not all of those scandals were generated by the actions of the First Lady, Mrs. Aisha Buhari, who was also at the center of last week’s furore.
There were several versions, spins, claims and counter claims about what actually happened last weekend. Essentially, it boiled down to an attempt by Mrs. Buhari to force the President’s nephew/powerful Personal Assistant, Sabi’u Yusuf, popularly known as Tunde, to observe a two week isolation because he returned from a journey.
While some claims said he went to London, senior officials said he only went to Lagos where his wife delivered their first child by caesarean section.
The later version is more believable because he was away for only a day and it is not easy for anyone to go to London these days.
When Yusuf refused to observe isolation, probably with the support of his uncle/boss, Mrs. Buhari took it upon herself to force him to do so.
She took three of her children to Yusuf’s house within the villa, with her police ADC and other security men in tow.
There was an exchange of hot words, followed by a brawl in which policemen descended on Yusuf and beat him up, allegedly because he slapped one of the president’s children.
Yusuf took to his heels and scaled the fence into the house where the president’s powerful nephew Mamman Daura resides.
Shots were even fired, either by the First Lady’s aides who were in hot pursuit or, some claimed, by Mamman Daura’s security guards trying to protect him.
Either way, it was a most embarrassing, most unnecessary and most unbecoming episode.
To have gunshots fired inside the Villa was a breach of security of the highest order. The last time this happened was in the heydays of military coups.
Nigerians were hardly reassured by an official statement that later said the president was not in any danger from the episode. The next day, Mrs. Buhari’s ADC and security aides were arrested on the orders of the Police Inspector General, and President Buhari was said to have ordered an investigation.
The outcome of this “investigation” was not made public. However, reports had it that the First Lady’s ADC and security men who participated in the shameful episode were redeployed.
This is not satisfactory. If, as trained police officers, they obeyed an illegal order, beat up a senior public officer and even fired shots inside the Villa, they deserve much more than redeployment where they could go and perpetrate similar indiscipline and illegality.
On the face of it, Mrs. Buhari was speaking truthfully when she advised Sabi’u Yusuf to isolate under the Quarantine Act. She was also trying to protect her husband.
Yet, there is such a thing as doing the right thing in the wrong way.
Two months ago when some Villa officials attended Malam Abba Kyari’s funeral, they were told to isolate, which they promptly did. The same authority that gave that order should have given this one, instead of trying to enforce it with police might.
In any case, Mrs. Buhari has proved in her five years’ residency at the Villa to be an ill-disciplined, quarrelsome person who is engaged in a battle for supremacy against the so-called cabal around her husband.
Only last year, we had cause to call on her in an editorial titled “Cool down, Mrs. Aisha Buhari” to stop her unnecessary quarrels and tone down on her unguarded public utterances.
Ultimately however, it is President Buhari’s duty to put his household in order and stop these scandals.
No other First Family in Nigeria’s history ever washed its dirty linen in public in this way. It was the last thing that Nigerians expected from the regime of change.