Days after Nigerians widely criticised President Muhammadu Buhari for allowing the use of a presidential jet by his daughter, Hanan Buhari, for a private activity in Bauchi, the president’s wife, Mrs Aisha Buhari has shared a video of her daughter waving to the public from the jet, on Monday.
The video, seen by many as a defiant response from the first lady, was posted on Mrs Buhari’s verified Twitter handle as well as her Facebook page on Monday.
In the 55-second video, the president’s daughter is seen greeting locals and appreciating cultural sites in what appears to be the North-east state. She was dressed in the same clothing she travelled to Bauchi in, as seen in earlier photos.
Mrs Buhari added multiple hashtags to the video, writing #HananBuhari, #richculture, #heritage, #nigerianairforce and #PAF. PAF is the acronym for Presidential Airfleet.
Hanan Buhari flew in the jet to Bauchi on a “study tour” of Bauchi Emirate as part of her fieldwork for her ongoing Master’s program in Photography at a UK university.
Many Nigerians, including president of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Mr Ayuba Wabba, have criticised the president for “flouting his own touted policy on cutting cost of governance,” by allowing his daughter fly the jet.
The presidency, through a spokesperson, Mr Garba Shehu, defended the action, saying Hanan, like any other member of the president’s immediate family, is entitled to the use of the presidential jet.
The major opposition party, People’s Democratic Party (PDP), disagreed, saying the presidency was arrogant in its defense of the “indefensible annexation of our national assets and resources for illegal private use.”
Legal experts also noted that although the Nigerian constitution makes no clear rule on such use of the presidential jet, no official policy authorises “the children of the president to use the presidential jets to attend to private social functions.”
“For the daughter of the president to use presidential jet on a private tour is an abuse. But as I have said, I’m not aware of any law regulating it. However, there should be protocols for such purpose. For example, will it be permissible for children of the president to be moving around with the presidential limousines or cars? That will not be permissible due to security implications and for the dignity of that office, said, Jiti Ogunye, a lawyer.
“You must be aware that even the presidential jet has the seal of the president on it. So does it mean the daughter should be using a facility dedicated to the president without the president on board? That was why the use of presidential jet by Asari Dokubo from Benin Republic to Nigeria sometimes in the past generated a fury.
Amid the condemnations, some groups have risen to the defense of the president and his family.
Despite the Presidency confirming Hanan Buhari traveled for her personal programme, the Buhari Media Organisation on Sunday claimed she was on an “official trip”.
“President Muhammadu Buhari’s daughter, Hanan, did not fly a Presidential jet on a private visit to Bauchi. Rather, she was on an official assignment to represent her father, the President, at an event in the town,” a statement signed by its chairman, Mr Niyi Akinsiju, claimed.
The group also said “Even if the opposition party did not fully admit it, members of the First Family are not barred from travelling in a Presidential jet, especially to an official function”.