The Aso Rock Presidential Villa has been the presidential residence since 1991, but the average Nigerian has only a very vague idea of how it runs or what it really looks like.
But maybe we can understand it better through some of the wildest stories that have come out of the place.
When Buhari became president, he looked forward to using his military experience to crush terrorists and put an end to insecurity in Nigeria. But he wasn’t prepared for a domestic invasion planned and executed by rats.
In 2017, when the president returned from a three-month medical leave in London, mutinous rodents took charge of his abandoned office.
Luckily for Nigerians, they didn’t sell the country or build human traps to capture everyone, they only damaged furniture and air conditioning units in the president’s office. The headlines travelled globally with the expected mockery.
It took the president nearly three months to end the siege of the rodents and finally resume his seat at the office. We can’t say for sure that he didn’t just offer the rats amnesty like he offers human terrorists.
Sexual spiritual attacks
Reuben Abati, a former presidential aide to President Goodluck Jonathan, wrote an article in 2016 assuring Nigerians that there was an easy explanation for presidents performing poorly in Aso Rock. The journalist said the chaos is actually a result of mischievous evil spirits at the Villa. He wrote that people that live in the Villa are usually surrounded by unexplainable personal tragedies.
And the worst of it all is these evil spirits are in the habit of messing with the sexual energies of people at the Villa. We can’t do his words justice, so here’s an exact reproduction:
Even some of the women became merchants of dildo because they had suffered a special kind of death in their homes (I’m sorry to reveal this) and many of the men complained about something that had died below their waists too.
Abati owes Nigerians a Gossip Girl spinoff about Aso Rock
Abati blamed these evil spirits for presidential mistakes, badly-received press statements and bad policies. His recommendation? Convert the Villa into a spiritual museum and abandon it for the demons.
Fani-Kayode’s “Villa Curse”
Before Abati’s time at the Aso Rock Villa, Femi Fani-Kayode served as a presidential aide to President Olusegun Obasanjo. FFK is no stranger to wacko theories, so he was very eager to build on Abati’s evil spirit premise in another article of his own in 2016.
The former minister’s theory is that any president that spends more than three years at the Villa suffers a personal tragedy. This could mean a loss of their own life (General Sani Abacha and Umaru Musa Yar’Adua) or their partner’s life (Stella Obasanjo).
In his words, “The story is that once the three-year mark is passed the curse sets in and the clock begins to tick.”
Technically, Yar’Adua died weeks before his third year anniversary as president, and his successor, Goodluck Jonathan, lived in the Villa for five years without falling victim to the three-year curse.
In-law civil war
If you think the seat of power in Nigeria is devoid of everyday face-me-I-face-you drama, then you’ve not met Aso Rock Villa.
A video leaked in 2019 showing Nigeria’s first lady, Aisha Buhari, in a heated exchange with Fatima Daura, the daughter of Mamman Daura who’s Buhari’s nephew.
In the video, the first lady protested being denied access by the Dauras to a certain part of the Villa that she needed.
That video proved once again that Aso Rock isn’t much different from any random apartment building in Ketu, Lagos, just more posh — and filled with evil spirits, of course.
Burglars on the loose
What’s been accepted about the ongoing (in)security crisis in Nigeria is that it can touch anybody. It even touched people within the president’s inner circle when burglars called by for their own taste of the national cake in May 2021.
The burglars raided the apartments of Buhari’s Chief of Staff, Ibrahim Gambari, and Admin Officer, Abubakar Maikano. Media reports noted that the burglars cleaned out the apartments and made away with money and other valuable assets. But the presidency, with eggs on its face, said the burglary wasn’t successful, only “attempted”.
It’s been over a year and no one that we know of has been arrested for the kind of heist you’d usually only see on Netflix.
In November 2017, a video of herdsmen openly grazing cattle in Aso Rock caused a stir online.
The incident happened at a time when Nigeria was in the thick of insecurity fuelled by open grazing by herdsmen in many parts of the country.
The herd grazed near the vice president’s official residence and obstructed vehicular movement. The most pressing question was how herdsmen were allowed access to the most fortified place in the country to graze.
The presidency responded by saying the herd of cattle belonged to the government and they do usually end up at the dinner table of the president and his vice. And those reported to be herdsmen were identified as staff members of the veterinary section of the Villa.
The summary of the government’s response was: