First Lady claims Cabal stopped NTA from airing her airport interview
The wife of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), Aisha, says the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, now takes orders from Buhari’s powerful nephew, Mamman Daura.
In a statement she personally signed on Wednesday, Mrs Buhari said it was Daura that ordered Shehu to issue a statement to say that the office of the first lady had been scrapped.
Mrs Buhari said this as The PUNCH gathered that her latest statement against Shehu and others was caused by an order by the cabal to presidential aides.
The cabal, it was learnt, directed the aides to stop the Nigerian Television Authority from airing an interview she granted journalists on her return to the country in October.
Aisha, in the statement she issued very early on Wednesday, said, “I recall, sadly, that it was the same Garba Shehu, who claimed that the government would not allow office of the first lady to run. He was later to confirm to one of my aides that he was instructed to say so by Mamman Daura and not the President. This antic attracted the anger of Nigerian women. He didn’t realise the fact that the first lady’s office is a tradition which has become an institution.”
Mrs Buhari said when she returned from her long visit to Europe, she granted an interview to the NTA at the Nnamdi Azikwe Airport, where she revealed that it was Daura’s daughter, Fatima, that leaked a video showing her protesting the excesses of the Daura family.
She alleged that rather than do his job and clear the air, Shehu ensured that her media aides and some members of staff of the NTA were suspended because of the interview.
Shehu is willing tool of cabal – Aisha Buhari
Aisha added, “To make matters worse, Mr Shehu has presented himself to these people as a willing tool and executioner of their antics, from the corridors of power even to the level of interfering with the family affairs of the President. This should not be so.”
“The blatant meddling in the affairs of a first lady of a country is a continuation of the prodigal actions of those that he serves. We all remember that the chief proponent appropriated to himself and his family a part of the Presidential Villa, where he stayed for almost four years and when the time came for him to leave, he orchestrated and invaded my family’s privacy through a video circulated by Mamman’s daughter, Fatima. The public was given the impression that on arrival into the country I was locked out of the villa by Mr President. Garba Shehu as the Villa spokesperson, knew the truth and had the responsibility to set the records straight, but because his allegiance is somewhere else and his loyalty misplaced, he deliberately refused to clear the air and speak for the President who appointed him in the first place. Consequently, his action has shown a complete breakdown of trust between the first family and him.”
“Mr Shehu was privy and part of the plan and its execution and he was shocked when he realised that I had publicised my return to Nigeria and cleared the air on the many rumours that took over social media. A job he was supposed to do but kept mute to cause more confusion and instability for his principal and his family.”
“Garba then, vented his anger on the NTA management insisting that the media crew to my office must be sacked. He succeeded in getting them suspended for doing their job. I had to intervene to save the innocent staff from losing their means of livelihood by involving the Department of State Services in order to ascertain roles played by key actors in the saga.”
Mrs Buhari, therefore, asked Shehu to resign as his loyalty was not to the President but to an unelected nephew of her husband.
She said there was a ploy by Shehu and his ilk to start a smear campaign against her and her children.
She said, “Based on Garba Shehu’s misguided sense of loyalty and inability to stay true and loyal to one person or group, it has become apparent that all trust has broken down between him and my family due to the many embarrassments he has caused the Presidency and the first family.”
The PUNCH learnt on Wednesday that an interview Mrs Buhari granted some journalists on her return from the United Kingdom in October caused the latest crisis.
Our correspondent learnt that as part of the arrangement, some aides of the President’s wife, based on her directive, told the journalists the questions they should ask her.
A source in the Presidency, who confided in The PUNCH, said, “You know that while she was away, a lot of things were happening. There was the news that her husband was about taking a new wife and there was also the video that went viral, with people claiming that she was locked up inside the Presidential Villa.”
“So the woman was not comfortable with the fact that presidential spokesmen did not address the issues, so she wanted to clear the air on the issues herself.”
It was further learnt that as part of the arrangement, a reporter with the Nigerian Television Authority was assigned the task of asking a question relating to the viral video while another journalist was told to ask a question relating to the rumour of her husband’s planned wedding.
The source added, “Everything went according to the plan, the questions were asked and the President’s wife answered them without holding back anything.”
“Shortly after the interview, however, news got to those you like to call the cabal that the woman granted a press interview on her arrival at the airport. The thrusts of the interview were also divulged to them.”
“It was at that point that presidential aides were called in to stop the interview. The interview was not only stopped at the NTA, the NTA reporter was also meant to be sacked for asking such a question. His punishment was later reduced to a suspension.”
Meanwhile, Mrs Buhari waited endlessly to watch the interview on the television.
The source added, “It was when she asked around that she discovered that the cabal had succeeded in stopping the interview. Of course, she was visibly angry.”
“I think it was after that, that her interview with BBC Hausa Service came up. That was the interview in which she accused Fatima, Daura’s daughter, of laughing at her because Buhari asked her father and his family to vacate the Glass House for his son, Yusuf.”
The Director of Information to the First Lady, Suleiman Haruna, did not respond to the calls made to his telephone line on Wednesday evening.
In the BBC Hausa Service’s interview aired after the initial interview was stopped, Mrs Buhari had reacted to the viral video, saying, “I was the one in the video, those behind me were the security personnel given to protect me, but Mamman Daura’s daughter, Fatima, shot the video in the presence of security officials and everybody. She was laughing at me because my husband said they should vacate the place (Glass House) for my son to occupy.”
Fatima had also granted the medium a separate interview during which she admitted that she recorded the video that went viral to provide a proof for her parents and security officials about Mrs Buhari’s outburst during the encounter.
Commenting on Mrs Buhari’s outburst, an elder statesman, Tanko Yakasai, said the crisis was a sad commentary about events within the Presidential Villa.
In an interview with one of our correspondents, in Abuja, Yakasai said, “It is not just a spat between the President’s wife and a presidential spokesman, it is something that goes beyond Garba Shehu.”
The Peoples Democratic Party said the public outburst by Mrs Aisha Buhari was another sad commentary that further exposed Buhari’s alleged incompetence.
The PDP National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, said this in a statement in Abuja.