There was no escaping the pictures. Hanan, Buhari’s daughter, had caused a stir with images of her descending the presidential jet and waving at some mass of Nigerians huddled at the Bauchi airport. The controversies dominated the media space understandably during the past week. Some are even still talking about the matter.
There had been speculations that the Thursday trip in which she was flown in the Presidential jet was a private one and for a photoshoot.
In its response to myriads of reactions that trailed Hanan’s escapade, the Presidency said in a statement by Buhari’s Senior Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, that it was normal for the president’s daughter or any member of the First Family to make use of the Presidential Fleet.
“It’s true that a member of the First Family was flown to Bauchi yesterday on a mission duly authorised. It wasn’t an impromptu or improper trip because it followed normal procedure. The Presidency informed the National Security Adviser of the mission who in turn informed the Commander of the Presidential Air Fleet.
“The normal practice in existence for a long time is that the Presidential Air fleet is available to the President and the first family and four others. These four are the Vice President, the Senate President the Speaker and any other person(s) authorised by the President,” Garba said.
Judging by subsequent reactions, it was clear that Garba failed to calm frayed nerves. However, opinions have been divided on the issue.
Captured below are some views of Nigerians who took to twitter to express their feelings on the matter:
Farooq Kperogi, Ph.D
“The Presidency said it isn’t a legal violation or even a subversion of convention for Buhari’s daughter to use a publicly funded presidential jet for private purposes. That’s flat-out untrue. But even if it were true, things don’t always have to be illegal for them to be condemnable. Something can be condemnable because it’s unethical or immoral, even if it’s legal. Making a tax-funded presidential jet available for the private use of Buhari’s daughter is straight-up unethical…
Of course, it’s entirely defensible, even expected, for Buhari’s family members to get on a presidential jet WITH him. That’s one of the perks of the presidency. But Buhari’s daughter, not being a Vice President, a Senate President, or a Speaker, cannot, on her own, use a presidential jet—certainly not for private purposes. Plus, there’s no precedent for this in Nigeria. None of Obasanjo’s children ever used a presidential jet for personal vanity trips. We definitely never heard of any Yar’adua children use a presidential jet for private functions. And most people never even knew Jonathan had children. We barely heard of or saw them, and surely never ever read that any of them used a presidential jet without their dad in it. No one in Nigeria’s history has personalized governance and murdered age-old expectations of basic decency in governance with as much impunity as Buhari has.”
Of course, since we voted them along with their father on the ballot paper. They even have the right to sign bills into law as first daughter and son respectively. Crucify me if you want, but my opinion is, Hanan has got no right to use the jet for…
Of course, since we voted them along with their father on the ballot paper. They even have the right to sign bills into law as first daughter and son respectively. Crucify me if you want, but my opinion is, Hanan has got no right to use the jet for… https://t.co/QzsQc5d5bS
— NVL 2015 (@nvl_2015) January 11, 2020
It’s a sad thing that and highest level of corruption that Hanan Buhari should turn presidency jet to Uber.
this jet that poor masses tax is used to fuel. This issue need to be looked into, it’s corruption on the side of @MBuhari
Ibrahim Modibbo Sanusi
Dear @MBuhari Did you know your daughter is using our presidential fleet including security details. these are the things your party use to fool Nigerians into voting you. Thinking you will stop wastage of taxpayers money. With due respect you are far from a man of integrity
Did you know your daughter is using our presidential fleet including security details. these are the things your party use to fool Nigerians into voting you. Thinking you will stop wastage of tax payers money. With due respect you are far from man of integrity 💔 pic.twitter.com/0bMi3Huz4x
— Ibrahim Modibbo sanusi (@ModibboSanusi) January 10, 2020
Using presidential jet by Hanan Buhari the president the daughter does not contravene any Nigerian Law, a member of the first family anywhere in the world enjoy certain executive privilege, If she like let her use it to Adamawa or Kano to buy “Fura da Nunu” waiting concern you?
Using presidential jet by Hanan Buhari the president daughter does not contravene any Nigerian Law, a member of the first family anywhere in the world enjoy certain executive privilege,
If she like let her use it to Adamawa or Kano to buy " Fura da Nunu " waiting concern you? pic.twitter.com/d2JbbVinru
— Yusuf sulaiman (@NumberDaya) January 14, 2020
“Dr Aliyu Idi Hong was a minister 2008 from Adamawa state, he once represented President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua in Yola and he used Presidential Jet, Presidential car and security too. So I don’t think it’s a big deal for Hanan to represent her Dad wit his p jet.”
#if Donald Trump daughter can use American air force one for her personal matter. #why Buhari’s daughter Hanan can’t use Nigerian air force one too!!!
#if Donald Trump daughter can use American air force one for her personal matter. #why Buhari's daughter Hanan can't use Nigerian air force one too!!! https://t.co/qV2AaxpCKA pic.twitter.com/phDtUKdvyr
— Jermeelz (@jermeelz) January 13, 2020
General Arinola A (GAA)
On this Hanan Buhari using the Presidential Jet, I want to believe there was a reason for it. The President has not done this -taking privileges that are even due him in the past 5 years. I hope this was an aberration. Nothing legally wrong, yes, but the optics aren’t great at all.
On this Hanan Buhari using the Presidential Jet, I want to believe there was a reason for it. The President has not done this -taking privileges that are even due him in the past 5 years. I hope this was an aberration. Nothing legally wrong yes, but the optics aren't great at all
— General Arinola A (GAA) (@iyaboawokoya) January 13, 2020
“Good that Valverde is out… Buhari’s Daughter Hanan Is Hustling As A Photographer And You Say Na Oil Work You Dey Wait For. My Bro Go Hustle Before Suffer Go Steal Your Destiny. No time to wait oooo, men don dey compile list already!”
How right is Falana?
According to a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, the use of aircraft in the presidential fleet for members of the First Family for private engagements is not backed by any extant law or official policy.
He had even explained that the use of the aircraft in the presidential fleet by the Senate President, House Speaker and Chief Justice of Nigeria had not been approved by the Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal Commission which is the statutory body empowered by the Nigerian Constitution and the Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal Commission Act to determine the remuneration and allowances of all political office holders in Nigeria.
Changing the narrative
In what smelt like effort to change the narrative, the Buhari Media Organisation (BMO), four days after Hanan enjoyed her trip and kept Nigerians talking, rose to announce that the event she attended in Bauchi was not private but an official event, in which she represented her father.
Niyi Akinsiju and Cassidy Madueke, BMO chairman and secretary respectively, in a statement they jointly signed, said under the circumstance that Hanan was on an official assignment, “convention and protocol allowed her to use the aircraft.”
The big question then is why it took BMO four days to realise that Hanan was on an official assignment to represent Mr President? Could the Presidency have been in the dark regarding Hanan’s presence in Bauchi to represent her father? If the Presidency knew, why did it not bother to inform Nigeria about it in its response, which would have gone a long way to save their principal and the First Family from being exposed to public ridicules?
One thing is clear though, Hanan would remain a central topic for a long time to come as some religious and ethnic sentiments are beginning to taint the colour of the conversations. Above all, her mom, Aisha, looks set, expectedly, to defend her with all her might.