ABUJA (Reuters) – The wife of Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari says she may not back her husband at the next election unless he shakes up his government.
Aisha Buhari, who has never held political office but joined her husband on the campaign trail last year, told the BBC in a interview published on Friday that her husband did not know most of the officials he had appointed, and that many owed their positions to the influence of “a few people”.
Her husband, a 73-year-old former military ruler, was elected last year after a campaign largely fought on his pledge to crush the Islamist militant group Boko Haram and crack down on corruption.
Nigeria, which has Africa’s largest economy, is in recession for the first time in 25 years, largely due to a fall global oil prices, which has slashed the state’s main source of income.
The president’s critics say he exacerbated the economic crisis by opposing the devaluation of the naira currency for 16 months before yielding, and that it took too long to overcome months of wrangling with parliament to get the 2016 budget passed.
The president has not said whether he will seek re-election in 2019.
“He is yet to tell me but I have decided, as his wife, that if things continue like this up to 2019, I will not go out and campaign again and ask any woman to vote like I did before. I will never do it again,” Aisha Buhari said in the interview.
She said people who did not share the vision of the ruling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), had been appointed to senior positions because of the influence wielded by a “few people”.
The APC is a loose coalition of politicians that was united by a desire to remove the People’s Democratic Party of Buhari’s predecessor Goodluck Jonathan rather by than a shared ideology.
“The president does not know 45 out of 50, for example, of the people he appointed and I don’t know them either, despite being his wife of 27 years,” Aisha Buhari said.
On the issue of whether the president was in charge, she said: “That is left for the people to decide.”
A government official, who did not want to be named, said the remarks were “a husband and wife matter”.
Aisha Buhari said improved security in the northeast, Boko Haram’s former stronghold, was the government’s biggest achievement. “No one is complaining about being attacked in their own homes,” she said.
On Thursday, 21 of the more than 200 schoolgirls abducted by the jihadist group in the northeastern village of Chibok in April 2014 were released after negotiations with the government.