First Lady Aisha Buhari has warned influence peddlers never to collect money from people who want to see the President.
She spoke on Saturday night during “an appreciation dinner at the old Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja, in honour of All Progressives Congress (APC) women and youths who played a major role in President Muhammadu Buhari’s victory in the March 28 election.
She said: “There is nothing people did not say about the past administration. It is not Jonathan that is not good but the people around him.
“So, the people that are going to be around President Buhari have to be very careful because this election ended peacefully.
“We are praying and hoping that people around him should know that it took him 12 years to get to that position and they must know that they are coming to serve the masses, not President Buhari in person.
“It is the people that are around him that will determine the political health of our state.”
Stressing that the Buhari administration would run an open government, Mrs. Buhari said it would be run in clear departure from what obtained in the former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration when people were allegedly asked to pay money in foreign currency before they could see the President or his wife.
She said: “I will like to inform you that in the past regime, whether it is true or false, only God knows, some people were going round and parading themselves as Personal Assistants.
“If you wanted to see the First Lady, you would pay $30,000 or $50,000 and if you were seeing the President, you would pay all that you have gathered in your lifetime.
“This will not happen in our regime. Whoever asks you to give a single penny in the name of coming to see the President or his wife is not our staff. He is not an APC member, it is a lie. Don’t be deceived.”
Read also: NDDC Probe: PDP Recommends Akpabio’s Suspension As Police, Wike Set For Showdown
Noting that she did not take part in the campaigns of her husband in the first three times he contested and failed, Mrs Buhari said her active participation in the last electioneering made the difference.
According to her, APC National Leader Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu encouraged her to play an active role in the Buhari campaign.
She said: “Many people did not know why I was not appearing for the last three campaigns. I appeared only this time and I think it made a lot of difference. A lot of people said my husband earned four million votes as a result of my campaign.
“We were not sure but with the popularity of my husband, we thought then that he needed female support to cancel the all sorts of gender problems people have been attaching to him, like saying he kept me under a purdah.
“He had never kept me under a purdah even for a moment since I got married to him.
“Even now, by the recent campaigns, it was Bola Ahmed Tinubu who insisted that I should come out and support my husband. Not that I never liked supporting my husband but it all depended on the people around him; that was before.
“And now too, it is the people around him that showed that they wanted me to participate. We did and we have seen the difference.”
She said Buhari was the pillar of her success, despite the generation gap between the two of them, as he even encouraged her to go to school.
“My husband is a gender-sensitive human being, having so many girls as his own biological children and then having me as a wife; you can see the generation gap. He allowed me to go to school. To cut the story short, he is the pillar of my success.”
When Tinubu continued pestering her to join the campaign train, Mrs. Buhari said, she sought her husband’s approval.
Mrs. Buhari first appeared at a rally in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital.
According to her, the greatest challenge she faced during the campaigns was security.
She recounted how the wife of Zamfara State Governor told her how supporters of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) stopped their convoy from returning to Gusau, the state capital, up until 4am at a point.
She said she had her own experience when she joined the campaign train to Ilorin, the Kwara State capital.
Former Rivers State Governor Rotimi Amaechi, who was the chairman of the event, thanked Mrs. Buhari and other women for making his job as the Director-General of the Buhari/Osinbajo Presidential Campaign Organisation easy.
He recalled that before the President’s wife joined the campaign, some Nigerians were asking for her and after she joined their attention shifted to whether Buhari had a certificate or not.
He said: “Before you (Mrs. Buhari) joined us, they were asking for his wife. When we presented his wife, they were asking for his certificate.
“When we presented certificate, they said he was sick in London. Our president is strong and healthy. He visited 35 states during the election.
“Thank you for your reply when they asked if women will want to go and give food to their husbands in prison. You made our jobs easier.
I wish all women who took part in the campaign God’s blessing.”
The National Women Leader of APC, Hajia Ramatu Tijani, advised the party leadership to ensure they deliver on the change they promised Nigerians.
She said that the dinner was organised to appreciate those who made the change possible by touring all parts of the country to campaign for the party.
She said: “This is the night for those who share our dream for change. It is for those who toiled across the country for victory. This event is meant to appreciate those who made the change possible.”
Tinubu was represented by Senator Babafemi Ojudu, who read his brief remark titled: “This change is about women.”
Others at the dinner included the Vice President’s wife Mrs. Dolapo Osinbajo; Senate President Bukola Saraki’s wife, Toyin; wife of the House of Representatives Speaker Yakubu Dogara’s wife, Gimbia and APC National Chairman’s wife, Victoria Odigie-Oyegun.
Also at the dinner were wives of APC governors, APC female deputy governors; wives of former governors on the platform of the party and other top officials of the party across the country.