How I coped with Buhari’s PTSD aged 19 – First Lady, Aisha

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First Lady Aisha Buhari has revealed that she became a physiotherapist to help President Muhammadu Buhari recover from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) at the age of 19.

Aisha spoke yesterday at the ground-breaking ceremony for the Armed Forces Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Centre (AFPTSDC) initiated by the Lucky Irabor-led Defence and Police Officers’ Wives Association (DEPOWA).

She said her husband suffered PTSD following his involvement in Nigeria’s civil war without rehabilitation, his overthrow as military head of state, and subsequent detention for 40 months without being charged with any offence.

The First Lady said Buhari’s loss of three consecutive elections further complicated the situation she was confronted with at 19, when she married him and, therefore, became the unintended physiotherapist for his recovery.

She said, “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 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.

“One year after he came out from detention, we were married, I clocked 19 years in his house as his wife, legitimately. I suffered the consequences of PTSD, because having gone through all these, and at the age of 19, to handle somebody, who was a former Head of State and Commander-in-Chief of Nigeria’s Armed Forces, to tell him that he is wrong is the first mistake you will make.

“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.

“Finally, the whole nation rose against the misuse of power and bad governance. He only succeeded when it became a movement and here we are today. He ruled Nigeria before and he is ruling Nigeria now and this is the last time and final.”

Aisha chided politicians, who lost primary elections recently and had become almost inconsolable, with some making themselves unreachable by switching off their phones.

“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,” said Mrs Buhari.

She added that the PTSD centre was important to members of the armed forces and beyond, stressing that soldiers are the primary victims.

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