WIFE of the Nigerian President, Aisha Buhari has accused Senior Presidential Media Aide, Garba Shehu, of taking instructions from some people in government rather than from President Muhammadu Buhari.
In a statement personally signed by the First Lady and made available to reporters on Wednesday, Mrs Buhari critically upbraided Shehu of sundry professional misdemeanours, accusing the spokesman of working against the First Family.
Mrs. Buhari’s Special Assistant on Media, Aliyu Abdullahi, confirmed the development.
The Guardian reports that Abdullahi said the First Lady’s statement issued by Sulaiman Haruna, a Director of Information, on the development was also authentic.“Yes, the statement is true. I also got it from Sulaiman Haruna, who is the Director of Information in the office of the First Lady. It emanated from the office,” Abdullahi said.
Shehu, however, could not be reached for his reaction at press time.
The First Lady recently opened a can of worms concerning a protracted family feud, which involved her and a nephew of Buhari, Mamman Daura.
She accused the nephew of having knowledge about her being locked out of a room at the Presidential Villa. The First Lady followed the untoward development with a strong demand that the Dauras vacate the apartment meant for the First Family but which they (the Dauras) had occupied for four years.
The statement entitled, ‘Garba Shehu Has Gone Beyond His Boundaries’, is reproduced below in full: “Nigeria’s development is hinged on the ability of public officials to execute their mandates professionally, and to be shining examples in their various areas of endeavour. It is not a good sign when officials abandon their responsibility and start clutching at straws.
“As a spokesperson of the president, he has the onerous responsibility of managing the image of the president and all the good works that he is executing in the country. Rather than face this responsibility squarely, he has shifted his loyalty from the president to others who have no stake in the compact that the president signed with Nigerians on May 29, 2015, and 2019.
“To make matters worse, Mr. Shehu has presented himself to these people like 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 the 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 Mr. President locked me out of the villa.
“Garba Shehu, as 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 on October 12, 2019, 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 National Television Authority (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 (DSS) in order to ascertain roles played by key actors in the saga.
“It is at this late hour that I recall, sadly, that it was the same Garba Shehu who claimed that the government will not allow the 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.
“Today, even without a budget, I am able run my humanitarian programmes. In saner climes, Garba Shehu would have resigned immediately after going beyond his boundaries and powers. Garba Shehu needs to understand that this kind of behaviour will no longer be tolerated.“The latest of his antics was to wage a war on the First Family through an orchestrated media campaign of calumny by sponsoring pseudo accounts to write and defame my children and myself.
“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. We all have families to consider in our actions and therefore it is in the best interest of all concerned for Garba Shehu to take the advice of the authority, given to him sometimes in the first week of November 2019.”
Also, the Coalition of United Political Party (CUPP) backed Aisha, saying her husband is not in control of the nation’s affairs.
The Guardian also reported the CUPP’s national publicity secretary, Salisu Dawaki, as saying: “If you can remember, Aisha Buhari was the first person that came out to explode about cabals around her husband. Everybody believes that President Buhari is not in total control of the country whether it is said or not.”
Meanwhile, the presidency yesterday issued conflicting statements on how President Muhammadu Buhari should be addressed.
This followed an editorial by a media house, which said it would henceforth address the president as major general, his military era title. Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to President Buhari, Femi Adesina, had earlier commented: “If you decide to call him major general, he wasn’t dashed the rank, he earned it. So, you are not completely out of order. The fact that you can do so is even another testimony to press freedom in Nigeria.”
Adesina’s comment was however knocked off by Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, who insisted: “It is not within the power or rights of a newspaper to unilaterally and whimsically change the formal official title or the designation of the country’s president as it pleases.”
The newspaper had also said it would thenceforth refer to Buhari’s administration as a ‘regime’, to symbolically demonstrate its resentment and protest against what it described as “autocracy and military-style repression.”Garba’s statement reads in part: “The Constitution of Nigeria recognises the president as the formal official title of the occupant of that office. Can the newspaper, in its hubris address the president as prime minister as it pleases? “Is it within the paper’s responsibility or power to change the official title of the man who occupies the office of the president? Does that mean any newspaper is free to address the comptroller general of customs a colonel rather than his official title?”