Vanguard Newspaper 14 April 2018
20—SATURDAY Vanguard, APRIL 14, 2018 Aisha Buhari, President’s wife with commitment to lift people out of poverty Continues from page 19 group have openly sabotaged Buhari’s anti-graft war while some of them have corrupted efforts being made to care for the displaced persons of the Boko Haram insurgency. Perhaps the greatest evidence that Aisha Buhari is a fearless fighter always on the side of the Nigerian people was the bombshell revelation by her in an interview she granted the BBC on October 14, 2016. She said her husband’s government had been hijacked by “the cabal” of people who did not play any role in the processes that brought him and the APC to power. Husband’s health challenges She was worried that those who worked for the party to win in 2015, including those who knew what the party promised Nigerians, had been sidelined by the “cabal” which had not only taken control of managing her husband’s health challenges but also taken over the reins of power in his absence. A visibly angry Aisha told the BBC: “He is yet to tell me, but I have decided as his wife, that if things continue like this up to 2019, I will not go out and campaign again and ask any woman to vote like I did before. "I will never do it again…I may not back him at the next election unless he shakes up his government…the President does not know 45 out of 50, for example of the people he appointed, and I don’t know them despite being his wife for 27 years”. Of course, her husband has not conducted any shake-up of his government. In fact he heavily footdragged before bowing to massive public pressure to sack former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, David Babachir Lawal, who was seen as a prominent member of the Buhari cabal. The President reacted to his wife’s BCC interview with a remarkable sound bite that immediately went viral in the social media: “I don’t know which party my wife belongs to, but she belongs to my kitchen and my living room and the other room.” The “shootouts” between the President’s wife and the “cabal” has mostly been carried out in the public arena. Saharareporters once quoted some elements of the “cabal”, in an alleged leaked phone call, as referring to the President’s wife as “the suicide bomber from Yola” (she originally hails from Yola in Adamawa State). Aisha returned the “compliment” by making reference to “jackals and hyenas”. While announcing the imminent return of her husband from his protracted medical vacation she airily tweeted on July 7, 2017: “Now the hyenas and the jackals are scheming and talking to each other in whispers; still doubting whether the Lion King will be back or not. Now the Lion king is asleep and no other dare to confirm if he will wake up or not. Professional beautician It’s the wish of the hyenas that the Lion King never wakes or come back so that they can be kings. It’s the prayers of the weaker animals that the Lion King comes back to save the kingdom from the hyenas, the wolves, and other predators.” Hajiya Aisha Buhari is seen as a woman who would not condone evil or keep quiet when the wrong things are being done by people in her husband’s ruling circles, no matter who it involves. It has never happened before, at least here in Nigeria. In more ways than one, the wife of the President is something of a surprise package. As a professional beautician, she is highly fashionable. She expertly blends the Islamic and Western motifs in her approach to dressing up. And she is not shy to put on very expensive attires, such as the raiment and wristwatch she wore to her husband’s inauguration on May 29, 2015 which caused some stampede in the social media. Another eye-popping surprise came when she donated N135 million to internallydisplaced persons in Yola camps on February 12, 2015 as the wife of the presidential candidate of the APC, General Muhammadu Buhari. Yet, Buhari had on October 12, 2014, disclosed that he took a bank loan to pay for the N27.5 million APC presidential form. It left quite a few Nigerians baffled as to the real status of the Buhari family whose patriarch was famously reputed to dwell solely on his pension as a retired general and former head of state before he got elected as President. Born on February 17, 1971, Aisha, whose grandfather, Alhaji Muhammadu Ribadu, was Nigeria’s first indigenous Minister of Defence, got married to Buhari on December 2,1989 at the age of 18. She completed her education in her husband’s house and now holds a Master’s degree in International Affairs and Strategic Studies, with a couple of post-graduate diplomas in cosmetology. Nigerians have in Aisha Buhari a fearless fighter for the common good; a woman who speaks the truth to power even if it means goring her own ox, provided the right things are done. Vanguard Editors had very little problem in overwhelmingly giving her nomination their majority votes as the Newspaper’s PERSONALITY OF THE YEAR, 2017. Personality of The Year: The burden of making nominations Continues from page 19 December, 2017), gives us five items: motivations, curiosity, insight, engagement and determination. These, while not captured in the same manner, represent the fulcrum of what Vanguard editors look out for when debating and making arguments for or against nominees. What motivates an individual to do good and great things? What’s the level of curiosity and insight available to ensure a determined engagement? In the polity, business, religion and sciences, many things happen and steal the limelight. However, a deeper interrogation of the thinking behind and the forces propelling such actions sometimes reveal motives that are at once plebeian and devoid of altruistic intentions. Therefore, how do you begin to nominate individuals with a profundity of immense relevance to the objective of meeting the set criteria for PERSONALITY OF THE YEAR? Even when you nominate such personalities, how do you get the buyin of colleagues around the table, some, with their interests. Indeed, the interest of some editors was just to shoot down nominees made by others. Such is the nature of mere mortal man. For a few others, a tunnel vision was all that motivated their support for or antagonism against a nominee. Yet, for some, the mere mention of some names evoked a nostalgic feeling. However, because there was a job to be done - and done well - names were put forward, names were dropped, names were added; more names were again dropped and a few other names were re-added. These exercises, which commenced on Monday, October 30, 2017, did not conclude until Monday, December 11, 2017 - all of six weeks. Such is the rigour that goes into the debate. For one, members of the Vanguard Board of Editors are always conscious of the need to elect nominees and vote accordingly with some things in mind: Would the eventual winners pass the integrity test? Would members of the public, while not in total agreement, be substantially convinced about the choice made? Can any member of the Board go into the open and be able to convince fellow countrymen about the personality(ies) that have been so chosen to be honoured? Does the name of any of the winners come with the dangerous effluvium of public opprobrium? Once these issues are settled, then the voting. And so, after over six weeks, First Lady, Aisha Buhari, was voted as Vanguard’s PERSONALITY OF THE YEAR for 2017. In making the argument, members were conscious of the novelty of the choice for 2017. But the facts in support of her eventual and ultimate choice swayed the majority. No matter. With the choice of winners, the ghost was driven out of the conference room. But because the motivation to again be rigourous in nominating, debating and voting for the prospective winner of the 2018 PERSONALITY OF THE YEAR, there is every possibility that the ghost would again cast its apparition on the wall of the conference room - and the editors would do whatever it takes to drive it out, but never able to exorcise it. Below is a list of the categories and winners: Personality of the Year •Wife of the President, Hajia Aisha Buhari Governors of the Year •Okezie Ikpeazu, Abia •Seriake Dickson, Bayelsa •Darius Ishaku, Taraba •Mohammed Abubakar, Bauchi •Umar Ganduje, Kano Lifetime Achievers •General Abdulsalami Abubakar •Professor Grace Alele-Williams •Alabo Tonye Graham-Douglas •Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe •Chief Sunny Ade •Chief Ade Ojo •Oba Otudeko Businessman of the year •Muhammadu Indimi Banker of the Year •Emeka Emuwa, Union Bank MD/CEO On the following pages are facts and strong points which swayed the decision of the editors in favour of these winners.
•General Abdulsalami Abubakar...stabilising figure Abdulsalami: General who douses tensions By Dapo Akinrefon THERE is no gainsaying the fact that the name of General Abdulsalami Abubakar (retd) will not be forgotten, in a hurry, when Nigeria’s history is written. What comes to mind when Abubakar’s name is mentioned is his ability to calm frayed nerves when it was thought the nation may not return to democratic rule. The demise of former military Head of State, late Sani Abacha afforded Abubakar the opportunity to write his name in gold. He became a stabilising figure when the nation’s socio-political atmosphere was gloomy. Indeed, when his colleagues chose him to pilot the affairs of the state, it was call to duty at a time of national distress. Also, upon Abacha’s death, many had thought he would perpetuate himself in office as is customary with the military junta. Stabilising figure But he let doomsayers down because a few days after assuming office, Abubakar promised to conduct elections within a year and transfer power to an elected president. As a means of actualising this feat, the former general established the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, and thereafter appointed former Supre me Court Justice Ephraim Akpata as chairman. Sensing the herculean task before it, the Akpata-led INEC held series of elections first for Local Government Areas in December 1998. Thereafter, it conducted State Assemblies and Governors, National Assemblies and finally Presidential elections on February 27, 1999. At the end of the day, Abubakar kept his word and transferred power to Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, who was elected president on May 29, 1999. Having left power in 1999, he has played prominent roles at the U n i t e d Nations and the African Union as he was a wellsought trouble shooter. Instructively, Abubakar helped in the Liberian p e a c e movement as he presided over the 2003 peace talks between Charles Taylor and the opposing rebels. His role in the 2 0 1 5 Presidential elections will When his colleagues chose him to pilot the affairs of the state, it was call to duty at a time of national distress not be forgotten in a hurry. As chairman of the Peace Accord Committee, his choice was, however, primarily fitting. He, alongside other committee members, helped douse tension that almost saw the country on the brink of war. The former military head of state, who SATURDAY Vanguard, APRIL 14, 2018 — 21 will be honoured with the Vanguard Lifetime Achievement Award was born on June 13, 1942, to Abubakar Jibrin and Fatikande Mohammed in Minna, Niger State. Between 1950 and 1956, he attended Minna Native Authority Primary school and from 1957-1962, he had his secondary school education at Government College, Bida, Niger State. From January to October 1963, he studied at Kaduna Technical College. Having left the college, he felt the urge to join the armed forces and in doing this, he joined the Airforce. It is apt to state here that not many people are aware that Abubakar is a member of the pioneering sets of officer cadets, who enlisted in the Nigerian Air force on October 3, 1963. He was, however, flown to Uetersen in Germany with a team of officer cadets, for Basic and Advanced Military Training between 1964 and 1966. Upon his return to Nigeria in 1966, he was seconded to the Nigeria Army where he steadily rose through the ranks. After joining the army in 1966 as an officer cadet, the young Abubakar attended the emergency combatant short service course two. In October 1967, Abubakar was commissioned second lieutenant, infantry division of the Nigerian Army. From 1967-1968, Abubakar was general staff officer two, Second Garrison, and Commanding Officer, 92 Infantry Battalion from 1969- 1974. Between 1974 and 1975, he was made brigade major, 7th Infantry Brigade. In 1975 he served as commanding officer, 84 Infantry Battalion. In 1978-1979, Abubakar was commanding officer of the 145 Infantry Battalion (NIBATT II), United Nations Interim Force, Lebanon. In 1979, he was made assistant adjutant general 3rd Infantry Division, Nigeria. From 1980-1982, Abubakar was a chief instructor at the Nigerian Defence Academy. He was, however, appointed as the colonel of administration and quartering, 1st Mechanised Division in 1982, a position he held up until 1984. Military secretary From 1985-1986, the former army general was in charge of the 3rd Mechanised Brigade. Having served as commander of the Brigade, he was appointed the military secretary of the army from 1986 to 1988. Also, between 1990 and 1991, he was made General Officer Commanding, GOC, 1st Mechanised Division. Again, from 1991- 1993, he was the Principal Staff Officer at the army Chief of Plan and Policy, Defence Headquarters. When the late Sani Abacha took over the reins of power in 1993, Abubakar was appointed as the Chief of Defence Staff, Defence Headquarters a position he held till June 8, 1998. Upon Abacha’s death, he took power as the country’s military head of state and commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces on June 9, 1998. Having handed over to a democratically elected president, the four-star general retired from the army and remains a quintessential general.