#OneNGWeekly (episode 31): Life History Of Safinatu (The First Wife Of President Muhammed Buhari)

Hajia Safinatu

Introduction, Background and Education

Hajiya Safinatu was born on 11th of December, 1952 in Jos, Plateau state into the family of Late Alhaji Yusuf Mani. She’s a Fulani woman, an indigene of Mani Local government in Katsina state. Late Safinatu started her primary school in Tudan Wada Kaduna (1959-1960) but was later transferred to Nasarawa Primary School now Dikko Memorial Primary School in Katsina when her father Late Alh. Yusuf Mani was transferred to Lagos to work as Private Secretary to Late Alh Musa Yar’adua who was Commissioner for Lagos Affairs in the Federal Cabinet of the First Republic. After her Primary School, Late Hajiya Safinatu proceed to Women Teachers College Katsina where she obtained her Grade II Teachers Certificate in 1971. She was well-educated and was so literate that she could read and write in Arabic, being well-grounded in Islamic education.
Safinatu and Buhari
Her Marriage

Late Hajiya Safinatu got married to her husband Gen. Muhammadu Buhari two days after her graduation from Women Teachers College Katsina at the age of 18.
An interesting thing about Buhari’s relationship with Safinatu was that shortly after the two met, the Nigerian Civil War started in 1967 and Buhari was deployed to the battlefields. This was one of the most tense periods in the life of Safinatu and she would later reveal that she was always worried during the war about the welfare of her lover and would ceaselessly pray for him. In 1971, with the war over, the two lovebirds decided to seal it and they got married. Thus, all through the war, while Buhari was on the battlefield combating Biafran rebels, his heart was not only burning with the love of Nigeria, it was also burning for a young beautiful Fulani girl named Safinatu. She was 18 when they got married.
Buhari and Safinatu

She became the first Lady when Buhari became the Head of State

Late Hajiya Safinatu Buhari became First Lady of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on the 19th of January, 1984, after her husband Major General Muhammadu Buhari assumed the mantle of leadership as Head of State of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
As first lady, her daily routine starts with prayers, reading newspapers and doing domestic works at home. At official level, she was involved with hosting official guest particularly when visiting heads of states come with their wives.
One memorable moment for Late Hajiya Safinatu was hosting the Gambian First Lady in the ancient city of Kano where they visited the city wall and one of the markets in company of wife of the then military administrator of Kano State, Mrs Halima Hamza
At her leisure in the State House, Late Hajiya Safinatu spent time collecting and compiling traditional Hausa and Fulani recipes which she later published after leaving state house for future generation. The title of her book is (“Our Delicious Menus” Recipes, Seasonings, and Culinary Ethics) published in 1999 by Nigerian Defence Academy Press, Kaduna.

She was heavily influenced by social, religious and cultural factors and this was seen in her conduct and behaviour as the First Lady. She was always quietly by her husband’s side but she concentrated almost all her energy on her children and making the home very comfortable and peaceful for the general. She started her daily routine by reading the newspapers. Thereafter, if she had no engagements for the day, she would receive guests.

The head of state usually received visitors till about midnight after which he would then retire to his study to work till the early hours of the morning. A dutiful wife, Safinatu never left her husband to study alone; she would stay with him, keeping his company until he was ready to sleep. Safinatu never interfered with her husband’s official work and did not discuss national matters with him. She seemed to have devoted all her energies into ensuring that the home was as peaceful and as comfortable for the Head of State as possible. She avoided publicity unless it was absolutely necessary. For this reason, many Nigerians did not know much about her. I hope this piece will shed more light on her person. She’s good to everyone
Safinatu, Buhari and Children in the 90s

Family and Children

As at the time her husband was overthrown, she had given birth to four children: Zulaihatu (now late), Magajiya-Fatima, Hadizatu-Nana and Safinatu Lami, Musa (now late). Following the overthrow of her husband, she left for Kaduna with her children
The Divorce:
The couple went separate ways in the mid of 1980s. She was reportedly accused of receiving financial assistance from Babangida while her husband (Buhari) was in detention following the overthrow of his government. After all, Buhari got married to Aisha in February 1989.

Safinatu’s Death
Safinatu became ill and was diagnosed to be suffering from diabetes mellitus in Saudi Arabia. She battled the disease for eight year and gave up in ghost on the 14th of January, 2006. She died at the age of 53


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