By Biodun Busari
The First Lady, Mrs Aisha Buhari has revealed that President Muhammadu Buhari experienced post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) which took its toll on her for several years following his active participation in Nigeria’s civil war without rehabilitation.
Mrs Buhari made the disclosure yesterday at the ground-breaking ceremony for the Armed Forces Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Centre (AFPTSDC) instituted by the Mrs Lucky Irabor-led Defence and Police Officers’ Wives Association (DEPOWA), where she was the special guest of honour.
In attendance were foreign and local government functionaries including the Borno state governor, Babagana Zulum, former President of Malawi, Dr Joyce Banda, Vice President of Liberia, Dr Jewel Howard-Taylor, Member of the UK House of Lords, Baroness Sandy Verma, Minister of Defence, Maj-Gen Bashir Magashi (rtd), Chief of Defence Staff, Gen Lucky Irabor, among others.
The President’s wife said, “So, at the age of 19, I had to figure out how to tell somebody of his calibre that he was wrong or right and that was the beginning of my offence in his house, and contesting elections in 2003 and failed, 2007, failed and 2011, the same thing – all without rehabilitation – I became a physiotherapist.”
She also said that her husband’s toppling as the military head of state, and subsequent detention for 40 months without being charged with any offence adversely contributed to his ailment
“It is a reality that soldiers and military families have to live with, despite its negative consequences. Being a soldier’s wife or a retired soldier’s wife and a wellness expert, I understand the challenges associated with PTSD and its impact on military families and the nation.”
“My husband served the Nigerian Army for 27 years before he was overthrown in a coup d’état. He fought the civil war for 30 months without rehabilitation; he ruled Nigeria for 20 months and was detained for 40 months without disclosing the nature of his offence,” the first lady noted.
“Failing election for three times was a big blow to every contestant but those that have contested for just yesterday, a simple primary election, they are still living in a traumatic condition, I tried to console them, I tried to talk to them, some of them have switched off their phones up till today, just because of a primary election.”
“You can imagine me at 19 years, handling somebody that went to war, suffered coup d’état, then lost several elections, and, finally, getting to the Villa in 2015. Also, for a woman to tell them that this is wrong or right in Nigeria and Africa is a problem.”
Mrs Buhari thanked DEPOWA for its support in trying to cater for soldiers facing PTSD, saying: “I thank DEPOWA for this initiative and the military establishment for supporting them. I call on them to ensure that this centre provides quality and sustained care for soldiers that suffer from PTSD.”