Yesterday, US based news platform, Sahara Reporters, posted a story on its website claiming Aisha Buhari and other key Nigerians allegedly use revenue generated from the Nigerian High Commission in the UK, to pay the hotel bills of Mrs Buhari’s large entourage during any of her visits to the UK. Part of the report reads;
“Our inside sources in the UK, and Abuja revealed that the High Commission spends a minimum of £7,000 for hospitality on each of Mrs. Buhari’s trips to the United Kingdom. Last year alone, Mrs. Buhari visited the UK at least seven times.
The finding was confirmed by a High Commission document dated July 28, 2016, and signed by Ibrahim Sule, Minister Counselor/Head of Chancery. “The Mission was also informed that Her Excellency and members of her entourage would be staying at the vacant house/official residence of High Commissioner. In this regard, given the above scenario, there is the need for the Mission to provide hospitality to the First Lady and members of her entourage. To this end, I wish to kindly recommend to His Excellency to consider and approve the sum of £7,000 to carry out the hospitality expenditure for the wife of the President, members of her family and entourage,” stated the latter. The request was approved the same day. Apart from feting Mrs. Buhari and aides as well as treating officials like Mr. Kyari like royalty, the High Commission also engaged in a variety of contract scams, notably through payments to contractors for jobs not executed or those executed at grotesquely inflated costs. Documents exclusively obtained by SaharaReporters show that the sum of £14,100.80 was paid to a company, Savanna Construction Limited, for what was described as “call out report on 31 air-conditioning units in the High Commission building”. The curious transaction was captured in a letter dated July 19, 2016, and signed by S.U. Kpohraro, Chief Security Officer (Admin). The Head of Chancery (HOC) signed the approval, which was granted the same day”.
Aisha Buhari has now released a statement, countering the allegations. Read the statement below
The attention of the Wife of the President, Hajia Aisha Buhari has been drawn to a report in Sahara Reporters where, she was amongst other things accused of abuse of privileges at Nigerian High Commission in London. It is not in her interest to join issues with anyone or defend others mentioned in the report, it is however paramount to put the record in proper perspectives as its concern her trips to UK vis-à-vis the Nigerian High Commission in London. Aisha Buhari has never traveled to London with a large entourage as was carried in the report. The highest number of people on a trip involves her three kids, ADC, and her personal physician. The Nigerian Commission in London has never offered any favor either monetarily or materially to her or her so called entourage on any of her trips to London. The state house in Abuja caters for her meal when necessary, and other healthy food or variety needed by her children are her personal responsibility. It is on record that the Nigerian Commission in London does not receive Aisha Buhari at the airport with any official distinction or privileges as was accorded other first ladies before her Her drivers are privately arranged without any recourse to the embassy for staff. She has never complained or raised dust about any of these acts by the High Commission because of the understanding, as clearly spelt out and practiced by her husband, that public office must be separated from the private lives of the occupants. She has always been an advocate of good governance where officials of government are responsive and appealing to their constituents, it therefore baffles the imagination that one could believe she would corroborate with any government official however highly placed either at home or abroad to shortchange the Nigerian people. These records are not hidden for a non-mischievous reporter who really intends to inform the people and not to disparage the family of the President just to add weight to a report. Aisha Buhari would have ignored this, like all of such baseless accusations, but the angle to which the report was presented has a corruption and abuse of privileges connotation which negates the fundamental principle upon which this administration thrives. Consequently, Sahara reporter or any of the embassy staff is hereby challenged to provide any concrete evidence either in hard or soft copy to contradict Aisha’s Buhari’s position as it concerns her trips to London. Sahara reporter should take the challenge and come out with the true version in relation to Aisha Buhari if not for her reputation and that of her family, but for the sake of good Nigerians who deserve to know the truth at all times.
Adebisi Olumide Ajayi
S A Media Wife of the President