This is Zikoko Citizen’s Game of Votes weekly dispatch that helps you dig into all the good, bad, and extremely bizarre stuff happening in Nigeria and why they’re important to you.
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If Aisha Buhari was a fruit, she’d be a strawberry — wonderful aesthetics on the outside, but you’re not always quite sure what you’ll get when you dig your teeth in.
As Nigeria’s first lady since 2015, she’s had a reign no one would be able to accurately describe as uneventful.
Aisha Buhari’s first true moment in the spotlight came in 2016 when she criticised her husband’s running of the Nigerian government. In response, while standing next to Angela Merkel, one of the world’s most powerful women, Buhari said his wife belonged in the kitchen and the bedroom.
The episode painted the president as an ancestor from a forgotten ancient past and endeared many people to his wife — the public figure unafraid to speak truth to power in service of the people. But the first lady’s character development arc since that episode is the stuff of an Oscar-worthy film.
In 2018, many Nigerians had questions when Aisha Buhari accused her aide of collecting ₦2.5 billion cash gifts on her behalf only to keep the loot for himself. Even her occasional anti-government rants started to look suspicious when some of them appeared to be fuelled by her frustrations about her brother’s political issues with her husband’s ruling party. And how can we forget the video clip of her fight with her in-laws in 2019, and another off-camera fight with another in-law that led to gunshots inside Aso Rock?
The year is 2022, and Aisha Buhari’s capacity for attracting ugly news headlines is stronger than our national grid’s willpower. The first lady became a dinner table subject this week when she allegedly ordered the arrest of a university student, Aminu Muhammed, who used Twitter to call her a fat freeloader feeding on Nigeria’s wealth. I’m paraphrasing here.
The first lady’s action proved counterproductive because now the internet is littered with a multitude of mean-spirited jokes at her expense. This barbaric overextension of state powers to deal with a personal slight that’s a civil case of alleged defamation is the kind of thing that tells you Nigerian politicians don’t exactly understand the times they live in. Have you met the internet, bro?
What else happened this week?
Protect INEC at all costs
As the gatekeeper of what we call democracy in Nigeria, the success or failure of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is tied directly to the country’s future. So, seeing another INEC office go up in flames this week was a dreadful sight. The latest attack in Ebonyi is the fifth on an INEC local government area office in the past four months.
Attacks on INEC facilities have become a trend in Nigeria and are designed to either damage the agency’s capacity to conduct elections or scare even more voters away from exercising their voting rights due to the threats of violence.
Election candidates may want to use their voices more to ensure this doesn’t become a more common sight.
Have you seen this video?
Question of the week
Fuel scarcity was back in full force again this week. How have you been navigating the latest crisis?
Click here to tweet your answer to @ZikokoCitizen on Twitter.
Ehen, one more thing…
Three Nigerian men caused an international incident when officials found them hiding on the rudder of a ship that travelled for 11 days from Nigeria to Spain.
The country is hard, but things can always get worse if you don’t seek greener pastures with a clear plan.