The name of Aisha, wife of President Muhammadu Buhari, is being dragged all over the place due to an indiscretion that more matured handling could have avoided.
It all started when Aminu Mohammed, a student of Environmental Management and Toxicology of the Federal University, Dutse in Jigawa State, tweeted two photographs of Aisha which showed she had considerably gained weight. It was captioned in Hausa but translated as: “The mother has got fatter by eating masses’ money”.
The tweet can embarrass anybody. But wise counsel dictates that such remarks be ignored. Two reasons call for this. Number one is that getting the culprit arrested, beaten and detained, will surely turn the people against her.
More people will join the troll as they have done. And it will morph into a national and international scandal as it promises to if the National Association of Nigerian Students, NANS, makes good its threat of mass actions.
Secondly, it is normal in a democracy for citizens to be critical of public office-holders, subject to the laws. Aisha and her family have been living at public expense for the best of the past eight years. Every year, billions of naira is budgeted for their upkeep and comfort. How they spend the money is never accounted for to the taxpayer.
Weight gain is not necessarily because of “eating people’s money”. People can be corrupt and yet stay slim.
We condemn the act of arresting, brutalising and detaining Aminu Mohammed, and call for his immediate release to enable him sit for his final year exams. It is an uncalled-for executive excess. Since Mohammed is an adult, Aisha can pursue legal redress, though this might sink her deeper in the mud in terms of public opinion.
It is unfortunate that our public office-holders, especially those elected by the people, see themselves as emperors, kings and queens. That is a great misconception. The late President Umaru Yar’Adua understood this and called himself a “Servant-Leader”. He lived up to that billing till he died.
The citizens freely speak their minds in advanced democracies as in the US, UK, France, Israel and others. President Emmanuel Macron of France was once slapped by a bystander, while former Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, was jailed. Nigeria is not a monarchy or theocracy like Saudi Arabia where the wrong mention of the royal family members’ names could spell disaster.
Anyone who cannot take the bitter side of public office should keep off it.