Looking at photographs of him after his release, there is no doubt that Aminu Mohammmed Adamu, the student who fired a salvo at Nigeria’s First Lady, Hajiya Aisha Buhari, regretted his action. In the photos, he appeared contrite, sober, and seemingly innocent, like someone in whose mouth butter would not melt. Appearances could be deceptive though. Are we not told not to judge a book by its cover? Similarly, we should not judge by appearances. Who could have imagined that such a frail looking, small boy could be firing dirty shots at the first lady? Many people censured Mrs Buhari for allegedly urging the police to arrest him as a prelude to pressing charges against him. Indeed, he was arraigned before a judge of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) high court, charged with false information, among others, and thereafter remanded at the Suleja Correctional Centre.
Many described her actions as tantamount to “intimidation and oppression’’. We should never indulge any wrong doing whether small or big because to do so is to encourage it. Why do we have rules and regulations in a society, the grundnorm to guide our behaviour? If everyone were to behave according to his/her whims and caprices, then society would run riot, chaos, confusion and anarchy would ensure and it would be survival of the fittest, so to speak, and the society itself would eventually collapse.
Aminu Mohammed is a case of modern-day children (as they like to call themselves) who view this digital era as an opportunity to spew excrescences on social media without regard to decency. For such people, nothing is sacred and they are no respecter of cultural values. You may not like the face of someone occupying a public position, but decency demands that you respect the office, not necessarily the person. Student Aminu Mohammed is an example of someone that lacks proper home training, of someone that jettisoned cherished African traditions and culture, chief of which is respect for elders of whatever kind, be it traditional title holders, royalty or those in authority.
Mrs. Aisha Buhari, wife of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, is not Aminu Mohammed’s age mate at all, she is old enough to be her mother; in fact, she has a son that is older than him. In the African setting, there is strict homogeneity among age groups. Adults mingle, converse with adults, children with children, according to their ages. None poke noses into the affairs of the other; the boundary are finely demarcated.
Every group’s space is respected as such. It is considered ill breeding for one to jump into and start interacting with an age group that is not homogenous to one’s own. Each group as for example, children, teenagers, adults, the elderly, has something that is common to it, something that makes it unique and different from the others and so able to relate properly with its own kind only.
In the Yoruba custom when talking to someone that is older than you, you do not look straight into the person’s eyes. You do that only with your age mates. There is specific pronoun for addressing someone that is older than you. We also respect constituted authority in our African norms and customs. Student Aminu Mohammed broke our time-honoured cultural values, coarsely dismantled long standing age barriers to haul vile at Hajia Aisha Buhari. And there was no disguising who she was directing it to because she placed Mrs. Buhari’s photo besides his offensive tweet, unlike cartoonists who when aiming a gig at someone draw a caricature of the subject of their jibe, so you cannot definitely say that is Mr. XYZ.
They do it subtly. Not so with Student Aminu which had Hajia Buhari’s photo alongside his tweet. The tweet read, “Su mama ancin kudin talakawa ankoshi” that is, ‘Mama has eaten poor people’s money and is now fat’. In order words, Aminu accused the first lady of corruptly enriching herself. This is libel. It is bad enough to embezzle funds. It is worse to corruptly enrich oneself from the sweat (monies) of poor people as indicated in that tweet of his. That one is growing fat is not evidence that one is chopping people’s money. It is also not altogether true that everyone in position of authority is corrupt or steals public money. Amidst the dross surrounding us, there are still some upright people, however few they may be.
In the Buhari administration, the office of the first kady is not as powerful or influential as it used to be. Mrs. Buhari does not have as much control as did her predecessors, Mrs. Patience Jonathan and Mrs. Turai Yar’Adua. In fact, these were viewed as powers behind the throne literally and many sought presidential favours through them. Not so with Aisha Buhari who is more or less a figure head in her husband’s administration. As a matter of fact, her official title under this administration is ‘wife of the president’. All her aides are actually aides of the president deployed to the office of wife of the president. The point is that Mrs. Buhari has little or no access to public funds as such, let alone stealing them and much less, stealing from the poor masses, the talakawa. People say that those in authority should have a thick skin for criticism. Yes. But the criticism should be objective, constructive, one that is aimed at making the subject a better person, not to denigrate and fetch him/her public opprobrium. Any criticism that verges on slander, character assassination, has crossed the red line. We should bear in mind that every public figure no matter how highly placed is first and foremost a human being. Anything that impugns on another human being’s integrity is evil. Ditto perpetrators or conveyors of such defamation.
I do not believe that Mrs. Buhari wanted to go the whole hog of following through with the judicial process to the end. I believe she only wanted to fire a warning shot at Student Aminu and his ilk. She has dropped all charges against him; Aminu has reunited with his family. He has learnt his lessons, has apologised to Mrs. Aisha Buhari and even deactivated his twitter account. Case closed. Aminu can be enlisted as an Ambassador in the fight against cyber stalking, cyber bullying, fake news and defamation by social media buffs, especially unenlightened, ignorant youths who think life is one way traffic where anything goes without repercussions.
Ikeano writes from Lafia, Nasarawa state via [email protected] 08033077519