Nigeria: The Day Turai Visited Villa, After Almost 10 Years

18 February 2020

Hajiya Turai Yar'adua visited the State House on Monday, February 3, 2020. The visit came after almost 10 years since the death of her husband and former President Umaru Musa Yar'adua.

The First Lady, Hajiya Aisha Buhari, received the former first lady, Hajiya Turai, at the State House, Abuja.

The president's wife broke the news of the visit of Hajiya Yar'adua who came along with her daughter, Hajiya Zainab Dakingari, on her Instagram page.

Aisha Buhari, who spoke on the focus of their discussion, also shared the pictures of the visit on her page.

She wrote: "I was pleased to see Mrs Yar'adua in high spirits. We rubbed minds on a number of issues that touch on gender-based violence, drug abuse and youth development in Nigeria.

"I also got to hear about her experience and perspectives on these issues.

"I conducted her round the area of what used to be her former office and while she reminisced her time in the State House, she also inspected the pictures of former first ladies in the conference hall, which she initiated during her time in order to honour all the Nigerian former first ladies."

Hajiya Turai, who had not visit the State House since the death of her husband on May 5, 2010 after a protracted illness, was succeeded by President Goodluck Jonathan's wife, Patience.

The decision to stay away from the Presidential Villa might not be far from a land dispute between her and Mrs Jonathan, her predecessor.

The bone of contention was a plot of land said to have been originally allocated in the Central Business District of Abuja for the construction of an office for the African First Ladies Peace Mission (AFLM), an African Union initiative led by Nigeria, which began while Turai was first lady.

The project was later converted to host Turai Yar'adua's personal initiative, the Women and Youth Empowerment Foundation (WYEF) after the death of her husband in 2010.

The legal battle started in 2010 after the former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Bala Mohammed, revoked the land, claiming that the action was taken in an overriding public interest.

An Abuja High Court later quashed the purported revocation order on the plot measuring about 1.84 hectares in 2013.

The ruling came after an attempt at negotiated settlement based on the advice of the judge failed as Turai rejected offers made to her in 2012 for either a smaller plot of land in the same area of Abuja or a sizeable plot in an undeveloped part of Abuja.

The final verdict was adjourned severally to give room for the two sides to pursue out of court settlement which eventually failed to materialise.

The relationship between the two personalities became sour as the battle over the piece of land raged in court over a long period of time, a situation believed to have been responsible for Turai Yar'adua's decision not to visit the State House during the administration of former President Jonathan who initially assumed mantle of leadership after Yar'adua's death. Jonathan was elected for another four years after the expiration of his joint ticket with the late Yar'adua.

But exactly one week after Turai's visit, her successor, Patience, also came calling.

The Aisha Buhari also hosted Mrs Jonathan, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The first lady released the picture of the visit which took place on Monday, February 10, 2020, on her Facebook wall.

She said, "I received my predecessor, Her Excellency Dame Patience Jonathan at the State House.

"We discussed my efforts with regards to greater involvement of women in politics and participation of women at lower level of governance.

"We also discussed girl child education and her pet project 'Women for Change'.

"I got to hear her experience during her tenure and listened to her perspectives on issues affecting women and children in the society.

"It was really nice having her around and I look forward to having more of such moments."

The visit of the former first ladies came days after they all met at an event organised on January 31, 2020, to mark the 10th anniversary of the death of former first lady, late Mrs Maryam Babangida; the initiator of women empowerment programme (the Better Life Programme for Rural Women or BLP).

Hajiya Buhari met with some former first ladies at the event.

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