The edifice that accommodates Nigerian Presidents is surrounded by rocks. Serving both as a workplace and residence for past and current Presidents, it remains a wonder to behold and not a few women in this country want to be Nigerian First Lady; even if its just for four years.
Famously referred to as Aso Villa, the door of the new Presidential residence in Abuja was thrown open on December 12, 1991 when the nation’s capital was relocated to Abuja from Dodan Barracks in Lagos.
President Badamosi Babangida became the first Head-Of-State to occupy it. Of course, his beautiful wife, the late Mrs Maryam Babangida and their children stepped into the beautiful Aso Villa with the military ruler.
Indeed, Maryam Babangida made the office of the First Lady much to be envied and by the time the Babangidas handed over power to Mr. Ernest Shonekan for an interim government to kick off, many Nigerian women desired being the First Lady.
But not Mrs. Turai Yar’Adua.
Then, the wife of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, her stay at the Aso Villa was from May 29, 2007 to May 5, 2010.
The Yar’Aduas’ stay was cut short of one year due to former President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua’s death.
His death was announced on May 5, 2010, after a protracted illness.
But before the death, his wife, Turai was alleged and rumoured to be one of her his advisors who influenced many appointments in the administration.
Many Nigerians would not forget in a jiffy the manner she handled her husband’s illness, and then the ‘cabal’ in government before his eventual death.
Born on July 26, 1957, she married her late husband in 1975. They couple were blessed with five daughters and two sons.
Turai Yar’Adua doesn’t appear as one who would suffer fools gladly. No.
By the time the Yar’Aduas were in Aso Villa, the three daughters became wives of serving governors and like their mother, they became First Ladies.
The daughter, Maryam was married to the then governor of Katsina State, Ibrahim Shehu Shema.
Another daughter, Zainab was married to the then Governor of Kebbi State, Usman Saidu Nasamu Dakingari. The third, Nafisa got married to the then Bauchi State Governor, Isa Yuguda in 2009.
Forget the fact that their husbands are no longer in power, these ladies still command clout in their domains.
However, earlier in February 2020, Turai Yar’Adua came visiting Mrs Aisha Buhari at the Aso Villa with her daughter, Mrs Zainab Dakingari.
Of course, the former First Lady was taken round the Aso Villa by her host, Aisha Buhari, who revealed to the press that the two women discussed issues of national interest.
Aisah Buhari among other things said, “I conducted her round the area of what used to be her former office and while she reminisced her time in the State House, she also inspected the pictures of former first ladies in the conference hall, which she initiated during her time in order to honour all the Nigerian former First Ladies.”
Though it was Mrs Yar’Adua first visit to the Villa since President Muhammadu Buhari assumed office in 2015, Turai never paid a visit to the Villa when her husband’s former Vice President, Jonathan Goodluck took over after Yar’Adua’s death.
For those who thought Mrs Yar’Adua was excited about becoming a First Lady 10 years ago, you need to read this.
On January 30, 2020 when Aisha , who is a daughter of late Maryam Babangida, organised a conference to celebrate First Ladies (past and present) as part of activities to mark her late mother’s demise, Turai Yar’Adua, who was a guest at the Abuja event was asked how she felt when her husband won the 2007 Presidential elections.
Her response?“I had been the first lady in Katsina for eight years and just when I thought I was going to have my husband (to myself), it was like he was taken from me again. I was not excited and there is nothing to be excited about in being a first lady,” she said.