By Wilson Adekumola
The outgoing First Lady, Mrs Aisha Buhari, said on Friday that former first ladies should be entitled to benefits including salary payments even after their husbands’ terms in office have ended.
Aisha Buhari made the request at the launch of a book in Abuja authored by the president of the Defence and Police Officers’ Wives Association, Mrs Vickie Anwuli Irabor, titled ‘The Journey of a Military Wife’.
While itemizing such privileges to include the provision of vehicles, sponsored medical treatments, provision of some stipends, among others, she stressed that first ladies deserved these privileges just like their husbands in office and out of office, saying that “when the pressure comes, nobody wants to know whether you are out of the villa or not.”
Meanwhile, Under Nigeria’s laws, ex-presidents are entitled to a pension package which includes the salary of the incumbent that will be drawn by them till death.
Mrs Buhari opined that such privileges should be extended to first ladies, saying, “I married my husband as wife of a former president. I am going in a few days as wife of a former president a second time.
“They should consider us as former first ladies. They should incorporate the first ladies, give us some privileges that we deserve as first ladies,” she said, adding that whatever would be paid should not be for “just to the former presidents,” she said.
She then hailed Mrs Irabor for the book which she described as a factual, emotional book that will help officers’ wives navigate their lives.
Speaking further on the book, Mrs Buhari said the book “underscores women as agents of stability for the nation as the nation battled insurgency and other security challenges.
“It’s a guide and reference for military wives and underlines the need for better support for military widows. The insights from the book will help readers appreciate the challenges of the military family.”
The Governor of Imo State, Hope Uzodinma, who was also at the event said Mrs Irabor’s book will promote national development.
The Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor, commended the DEPOWA president for writing about the experiences of military families.
General Irabor explained that the book would help the military to formulate a policy document on the welfare of military families.
The Chief of the Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo, who spoke on behalf of service chiefs, also commended the author for establishing a guide and reference for military wives.
He said the book launch was an opportunity to set aside a day to celebrate military women, noting that a good military wife manages the home to enable the husband to focus on military duties.
Former Chiefs of Army Staff, General Alexander Ogomudia and Lieutenant-General Tukur Buratai, commended the author for writing the book, saying, “We are proud of her.”
Also speaking, the former First Lady, Mrs Maryam Abacha, lauded Mrs Irabor’s efforts and called for greater cooperation among military families, recalling the good times she enjoyed as a military wife.
She said, “I married my husband a long time ago. I married him as a civilian before he joined the army. We went through the war. He became commander, then GOC. We always prayed to God for the soldiers and the nation.
“Those days in the 60s, the mess was a friendly place where we learnt a lot and exchanged ideas. I pray that NAOWA, DEPOWA and others continue to thrive. I am very proud to be a soldier’s wife and very proud of the legacies we left.”
The chairperson of the occasion, Senator Daisy Danjuma, wife of a former Minister of Defence and retired army chief, General TY Danjuma, relived the experience of military wives and experience of some military officers as well.
She said, “We celebrated good times, and mourned when some were executed during coup d’etat.
“Army officers do not prevaricate when they want to marry. They give their wives room to develop, acquire more education. You know job and postings, you have to be strong”.
In her own words, Mrs Irabor pointed out the vital roles play by the military wives describing then as unsung heroines.
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