By Ismail Mudashir & Saawua Terzungwe

Wives of presidential candidates, and those of their running mates’, are smack dab in the campaign mix to ensure their spouses emerge victorious. Daily Trust Saturday takes a look at the trail.

Spouses of the two major contenders for next Saturday’s presidential polls, Aisha Buhari and Titi Atiku Abubakar, are making waves on the campaign scene for this year’s general election. Supported by the wives of their husbands’ running mates, Dolapo Osinbajo, wife of the Vice President and Margaret Obi, wife of the vice presidential candidate of the PDP, the spouses are all-out, trying to outdo each other in ‘selling’ the candidature of their husbands to the 84 million registered voters of the country.

The spouses, Daily Trust Saturday reports, have adopted various strategies, conducted rallies at different locations, visited markets and paid homage to traditional rulers and religious leaders across the country.

Aisha Buhari: A campaign fit for a first lady

A new strategy was introduced by Aisha Buhari, when she constituted a 700-member high-profile campaign team for her husband’s re-election on 31st, December 2018. Tagged ‘Women and Youth Presidential Campaign Team for Buhari and Osinbajo Re-election’, the team is being co-chaired by Mrs. Buhari and Mrs. Osinbajo.

Specifically, President Buhari told team that, “In carrying out this assignment, I expect from members of this team the same loyalty and support which they exhibited in 2015. Let us remind Nigerians about our plans, our good work and achievements: Tell the people why they should give us another four years.”

The campaign team, comprising lawmakers, ministers, governors’ wives, retired generals, former governors, academics, media practitioners, actors and actresses, among others, swung into action on the 5th, January 2019 with a campaign flag-off in Kano State, at the Sani Abacha Indoor Stadium, Kano.

The president’s wife said she joined her husband to campaign because of the laudable empowerment programmes the APC planned for Nigerians and urged women and youth across the country to vote for Buhari and other APC candidates at all levels.

Aisha Buhari’s campaign team has so far held rallies in the six geo-political zones of the country. While she led the rally in Kano (North West), Dolapo Osinbajo was at the front wheel at the rallies in five geopolitical zones.

On January 8, this year, Mrs. Osinbajo led the North Central zonal rally in Lafia, and she did same on January 12 when the South East rally of the team was held in Owerri, the Imo State capital. The vice president’s wife did same in the North East and South West rallies of the campaign tram held in Bauchi and Oyo state on January 16 and 19 respectively.

In addition to the rallies, other members of the Aisha Buhari Campaign Team have embarked on house-to-house visits, as well as markets, and palaces, canvassing for votes. Wives of state governors who are members of the APC are not left out of the campaign trail, taking it to local governments in their respective states.

Mrs. Buhari’s spirited efforts to get her husband re-elected was in sharp contrast to her previous position, as twice she was in the news for expressing reservation on the administration of her husband.

Titi Atiku adds colour to husband’s campaign

Wife of the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Hajiya Titi Abubakar and that of the party’s vice presidential candidate, Margaret Obi, are also significantly adding colour and value to their spouses’ campaigns. The duo has been part of the campaign trail of the party, from one state to another, projecting the candidature of their husbands and why they should be voted in on a joint ticket.

Unlike in the 2015 elections where wife of then President Goodluck Jonathan, Dame Patience Jonathan, was accused of hate speech against the North, Titi and Margaret are said to have embraced issue-based campaigns.

Hajiya Titi in particular, has projected her husband Atiku, on every available opportunity, assuring Nigerians that her husband is coming not to loot from the nation’s coffers but to nip in the bud the socio-economic, political, security and other challenges bedeviling the nation. She also has been bringing the issue of her husband’s resolve to enhance national unity and run an all-inclusive government to bear on the campaign.

Hajiya Titi, who is Founder of Women Trafficking and Child Labour Eradication Foundation (WOTCLEF), recently, hit hard at candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), President Muhammadu Buhari, appealing to Nigerians to “kick him out.” She speficially said the Buhari-led government had lost its way.

Mrs. Abubakar, who spoke in Abuja at an event with the theme, ‘Kick Out Hunger, Kick Out APC’, also said: “We are going to get Nigeria working again; people are hungry. Hunger is causing many of our children to go into prostitution. It has become clear that the current political establishment has lost its way and Nigerians have to endure the epic disappointment.”

Two other wives of Atiku, Jennifer and Jamila, have also been bringing to bear their own influence to his presidential campaign, hitting at ruling APC, saying only their husband has the capacity and political will to end the hunger in the land, if voted into power.

Margaret, wife of the PDP presidential running-mate Chief Peter Obi, has also been making public appearances canvassing for votes for the Atiku/Obi ticket.

Mrs. Obi, who is from Akwa Ibom State, spoke to a large crowd when the PDP presidential campaign trail stormed her home state recently. The former First Lady of Anambra State, who was asked to speak to the masses, introduced the campaign in the English language but just a few minutes into the campaign switched over to her dialect, causing the crowd to get visibly excited. She told the people of the state that the PDP was the best option for Nigeria and remained the only political party that is capable of delivering and rescuing Nigeria from the current socio-economic and security challenges.

A foundation member of the PDP from the North East, Alhaji Aminu Yakudima, told Daily Trust Saturday over the phone, that the involvement of Atiku and Obi’s wives in the campaigns would shape the polls positively. He explained that they would communicate the message of affirmative action and other key areas on the agenda of their husbands to their fellow women better, and achieve results.

Analysts and poll-watchers say the participation of spouses of both major candidates and their runningmates, has added value to the entire campaign process, adding much-needed colour and vigour to the elections next week.