The administration of President Muhammadu Buhari now officially recognises the Office of the First Lady in the country. This is coming nearly four years after the occupant, Aisha Buhari has been officially always referred to as simply the Wife of the President with no functions assigned to her to perform on behalf of the government.
Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed has however indicated that there is an end to this era. Addressing a world media conference on the 2019 Presidential Inauguration and June 12 Democracy Day, the government spokesperson officially referred to the Office of the First Lady and not Wife of the President as has been the tradition since May 29, 2015.
The Minister said that as part of activities for the Presidential Inauguration on May 29, “the First Lady’s interaction with women is slated for the Old Chamber at the State House on Saturday May 25th”. For the June 12 Democracy Day celebration, he said there will be “a First Lady’s Commissioning Programme in Yola, Adamawa” the home state of the President’s wife on Tuesday, June 11.
President Buhari had in the 2015 election campaigns promised to put an end to the controversial Office of the First Lady during his administration. This is however ending with the first term of the President. Many believe that not giving effect to the Office of the First Lady may have contributed significantly to the very low involvement and appointment of women into positions in the first four years of the Buhari administration.
This made the issue of women representation in governance a major campaign issue during the 2019 general elections with some of the presidential candidates promising as high as 35 percent of appointments for women in their administration if they were elected.
It will be recalled that the Wife of the President, Aisha Buhari was a vocal critic of the administration of her husband in his first term. Many say her outbursts were not unconnected to her not playing a major role in the administration.
President Buhari had in October 2016 while responding to questions at a joint media briefing with the German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin after a state visit said “women belong to the kitchen and the other room”, apparently referring to the bedroom. His remarks drew wide criticisms and condemnation both at home and abroad.