Nigeria has had its fair share of interesting First Ladies — the late Maryam Babangida was a style icon who birthed the Maryam Phenomenon and the late Stella Obasanjo is still remembered for her beauty and style. And we can’t forget Patience Jonathan, the grand dame of drama whose infamous “There is God” video became Nigeria’s most viewed non-music footage ever on YouTube at the time.
All the spotlight of Nigeria’s 2023 presidential election is on the frontrunners. Still, who are the women in their lives who could soon become the next First Lady? Here’s what to know about them.
Oluremi Tinubu is a senator and the wife of Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the 2023 presidential candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
Remi was born on September 21, 1960, a few days before Nigeria’s independence. She began her educational career at Our Lady of Apostles Secondary School, Ijebu Ode and would later gain academic degrees from both Obafemi Awolowo University (then, University of Ife) and Adeyemi College of Education. She also earned a theological degree from The Redeemed Christian Bible College, and is, in fact, an ordained minister.
However, Oluremi’s real talent is in politics. She became First Lady of Lagos State when her husband was executive governor between 1999 and 2007. She won her first election as a senator, representing the Lagos Central Senatorial District, in 2011 — a position she’s held till date.
Like her husband, she has her fair share of controversies. In 2019, she was caught on video telling a voter she doesn’t trust Igbo people. Also, in 2021, she rebuked a fellow senator from her party, Smart Adeyemi, when he complained about insecurity in Nigeria. She asked him, “Are you in PDP (Peoples Democratic Party)? Are you a wolf in sheep’s clothing?”
What to expect
Remi Tinubu’s precedent suggests that she is very much fine with the status quo and unlike the current First Lady, Aisha Buhari, known for criticising the president, she is likely to stay in her lane and mind her business.
If Oluremi Tinubu comes across as too “in your face”, Titilayo Abubakar is the very opposite. Born Titilayo Albert on June 6, 1949, she’s the wife of former vice-president and current PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar.
She got her early education in Lafiaji, Lagos. Her tertiary education was at Kaduna State Polytechnic where she was also a lecturer for a decade. She also holds degrees in business administration from the University of Abuja.
Titilayo married Atiku in 1971 while he was an officer of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS). When her husband became vice-president in 1999, she notably started an advocacy to end human trafficking and girl-child prostitution. The advocacy, WOTCLEF, was inspired by her visit in the 1980s to Rome where she saw young Nigerian girls used as sex slaves. To her credit, WOTCLEF’s work contributed towards the enactment of Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Law Enforcement and Administration Act 2003, and the subsequent establishment of NAPTIP.
Although not as controversial as Oluremi Tinubu, Titi Abubakar was recently in the news over a trending photo of a police officer carrying her handbag at a public event. In 2017, she claimed to be a 419 victim having been defrauded the sum of ₦918 million by a pastor. The rich also cry, apparently.
What to expect
Titi Abubakar’s history suggests that she’s good news for feminist rights, and may likely champion more such causes in office. We do hope however, that she is wiser now and much more prudent with money. ₦918 million is every fraudster’s dream.
Another potential next First Lady is Margaret Obi, the wife of Peter Obi, the 2023 presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP).
She was born on September 9, 1974, and hails from Akwa-Ibom. Margaret is a businesswoman, entrepreneur and philanthropist. She was the First Lady of Anambra State when her husband was the governor between 2006 and 2014.
Her notable achievements include the creation of family courts in Anambra’s Ministry of Women’s Affairs and Social Development, for the resolution of issues relating to child abuse and property rights for widows. She also inspired gender affirmative action during her husband’s time in office.
Not much controversy surrounds her. However, in 2017, the notoriously private Margaret had to publicly respond to rumours that she was divorcing her husband. A claim she described as the “height of wickedness”. Who can blame her eh? She had to secure the bag before wicked people pour sand in her garri.
What to expect
Like Titi, Margaret has championed causes for women and children which may translate to something bigger if her husband wins. We hope she creates a social media profile soon though. She can’t always be holding press conferences to debunk rumours when a simple tweet would suffice.