Only if Governor Ayo Fayose’s media team had done a bit of literature research, there would have been no need for him to commit his greatest gaffe of the decade, confusing Halliburton’s ‘Aisha Buhari’ with President Muhammadu Buhari’s wife.
In April 2007, President Buhari, then a candidate for the presidential election of the year, had spoken about Fayose’s own Aisha Buhari, in an interview with a correspondent of the New York Times.
The paper was then investigating a lobbying scam, in which former governor of Akwa Ibom state, Victor Obong Attah, lost $1.2million of the state money to an American that promised more than he could deliver for the governor.
That Aisha Buhari, described then as a middle-aged woman had introduced the lobbyist, Richard T Hines to Attah.
President Buhari was interviewed at the time and he flatly denied knowing the woman.
Buhari: I don’t know that ‘Aisha Buhari’
Buhari: I don’t know that ‘Aisha Buhari’“I don’t have any relationship with that Aisha Buhari,” Buhari said. “I don’t have any daughter called Aisha Buhari living outside this country. She is not my daughter.”
Fayose’s Aisha Buhari had wormed herself to some people, including Attah, claiming to be Buhari’s daughter. And the subterfuge opened doors for her.
Attah, an architect who became governor of Akwa Ibom in 1999, was fooled by the impostor that he proudly claimed to have known the father, who he described as a powerful Nigerian politician, by reputation. Attah had President Buhari in mind.
He had met the woman, with residence in Virginia in the USA in 2001 when she accompanied a group of American politicians that included the later disgraced US House of Reps member Mr. William Jefferson to Akwa Ibom to see oil-related pollution problems there.
Similarly, another Nigerian who met the impostor Aisha Buhari at a pharmacy shop in the US and actually linked her with Hines, also believed her lie. The said Aisha had splashed several thousands of dollars on perfumes at the shop and the Nigerian, Joshua Assiba struck a conversation.
“You must be a rich woman, looking at the way you dress and spend money,” Mr. Assiba recalls telling Ms. Buhari.
As the pair struck up a conversation and subsequently became friends, Mr. Assiba, then a security guard, said she told him that her father was the former military ruler of Nigeria, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, and that her American friends included politicians like Mr. Jefferson of Louisiana.
But back then in 2007, she was already busted as an impostor by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, then headed by Nuhu Ribadu.
Ribadu was so sure, according to the New York Times report that the woman was not the person she claimed to be.
According to the report, Ribadu said he was uncertain if her name is Aisha Buhari, but he emphatically denied she was the daughter of President Buhari.
Just pity Fayose for the costly goof of the decade, if not the century!