First Lady Aisha Buhari returned to Nigeria from the UK at about 5am on Sunday, October 13, 2019, looking as tanned, happy and colorful as ever.
She arrived shortly after rumour mongers took to the social media space with tales that President Muhammadu Buhari had concluded plans to marry a second wife at the Aso Rock Mosque.
According to the tales, Buhari was all set to marry his Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar Farouq on Friday, October 11, 2019.
Stories of an imminent presidential wedding turned out to be false.
However, in the hours leading to the rumoured wedding, a video emerged of a lady screaming herself hoarse in a furnished apartment.
This lady’s face was cut off in the footage, so it was doubly difficult making out who she was, even though the posters made it clear the screaming, angry lady was Aisha Buhari.
From the footage, the furious lady was saying to no one in particular in an admixture of English and Hausa: “This is the villa...we have over 200 soldiers guarding us...200 policemen guarding us..why do you have to lock this door? What for? What for? Enough is enough!! Enough is enough!!! Let me know when you are leaving this place.”
No one from the presidency denied the authenticity or otherwise of the videos or the location while the furor lasted.
Owning up to it all
When Aisha Buhari arrived Nigeria, she told journalists who had caught up with her at the airport that she was the one in the footage.
“The video was an old video,” the First Lady said with a smile. “The event happened. It was me. Actually it happened in the Villa.”
There were no details of what this event was or what left her so upset on the day. However, Mrs. Buhari has had a running battle with a cabal in her husband’s presidency since Mr. Buhari won a first term in office in 2015.
She has also wasted little time accusing faceless members of this cabal of holding her husband hostage and truncating his good plans for the people who elected him into office.
Aisha Buhari explains lengthy absence
Mrs. Buhari’s prolonged absence from Nigeria sparked the rumours in the first place. On the airport tarmac, she explained why she was away for that long.
“Last year, I was in Spain for two years with my daughter. I have never abandoned my children. I give them the motherly support they need. Usually, we embark on a holiday every year for six weeks. I have taken my holiday for this year. And it happened that after the holiday, I needed to attend to my health before going to Saudi (Arabia) and when I went to Saudi, based on the doctor’s instructions, I went back to the UK again. I am well now, but still I need more rest.
“I’d like to seize this opportunity to thank my husband for approving six SAs (Special Assistants) and PAs (Personal Assistants) to my office to allow me to attend to the home-front and also to some developmental projects in Nigeria for women and children", the First Lady said.
A fake social media wedding
The palace wedding that never was sparked memes and conversation aplenty on social media and was weaponized by the president’s supporters and opponents alike to poke fun at the other party.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that an unprecedented number of Muslim faithful had stormed the mosque on the day in what appeared to be an attempt by some “curious worshippers’’ to confirm or denounce social media stories of the president's wedding.
However, the worshipers, who were at the Aso Rock mosque to witness "the social media `created’ wedding Fatiha’’, were disappointed as they only witnessed Mr. Buhari exchanging pleasantries with citizens after the prayer session.
The President’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, referred to the rumoured wedding as “a deceptive manoeuvre by those who fabricated the news."