Government & Politics

#Throwbacks- Meet Buhari’s Life With His First Wife, Hajia Safinatu


Safinatu was 14 years old in 1966 when she met her husband, Buhari,  for the very first time when the young major in the Nigerian Army paid a visit to the house of Safinatu’s father in the company of his friend, the late Major-General Shehu Musa Yar’adua (brother of Late President Umar Musa Yar’adua)

buhari and safinatu

Hajia Safinatu was born on the 11th of December, 1952 in Jos, Plateau State into a family of 13 children, to Alhaji Yusufu Mani and Hajia Hadizatu Mani. Her mother, Hajia Hadizatu, gave birth to seven out of the 13 children.

She was well-educated and was so literate that she could read and write in Arabic, being well-grounded in Islamic education. She attended the Women Teacher’s Training College in Katsina where she obtained her Grade II Teachers Certificate in 1971.


buhari and safinatu1

Shortly after the two met, the Nigerian Civil War started in 1967 and Buhari was deployed to the battlefields. In 1971, with the war over, the two lovebirds decided to seal it and they got married. She was 18 years then.

On the 19th of January, 1984, nineteen days after her husband had just become the country’s seventh head of state and as the wife of the Commander-in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces, Hajia Safinatu Muhammadu Buhari moved into the State House, Ribadu Road, Marina, Lagos State.

buhari and safinatu2

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 never interferred with her husband’s official work and did not discuss national matters with him.

When it came to the traditional dishes, they were always personally prepared by the First Lady herself, assisted by aides. General Buhari loved to enjoy pepper soup made with mutton, chicken or fish.

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. They would also later have a fifth child, Musa (now late).

buhari and safinatu3

Following his release from detention by the Ibrahim Babangida regime, the couple went their separate ways in the mid 1980s. She was reportedly accused of receiving financial assistance from Babangida while her husband was in detention following the overthrow of his government. Buhari would later marry Aisha in February 1989.

. In 1998, she was diagnosed to be suffering from diabetes mellitus in Saudi Arabia. For eight years, she battled the disease and breathed her last on the 14th of January, 2006. She was 53.

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