Nigerian First Lady Aisha Buhari seems to be hugging the headlines of late for all the wrong —- and maybe some not-so-wrong — reasons.
Following her controversial statements last week criticizing her husband and his subsequent response that fired off a media storm, the First Lady is once more in the news, and this time it is for her taste in high-end luxury items.
On Tuesday, Mrs. Buhari was photographed on her recent trip to Brussels, Belgium, for the African Women’s Forum wearing a multi-coloured Salvatore Ferragamo cape.
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According to online lifestyle publication BellaNaija, her pricey designer outfit retails for about $2,600 (1.2 million naira), an amount that is nearly 70 times the country’s minimum wage of $45.
In the middle of one of the worst economic downturns Nigerians have ever had to grapple with, Mrs. Buhari’s taste for the good things in life understandably sticks out like a sore thumb in the sight and psyche of the average Nigerian.
Her husband, President Muhammadu Buhari, swept in to power in last year’s general election largely due to his populist appeal among the majority of Nigerians who were swayed by his reputation as an incorruptible former army general who led a frugal, conservative lifestyle.
However, on May 29, 2015 — barely two months after the historic election that brought her husband in to office — Mrs. Buhari quickly got on the wrong side of Nigerians when she turned out for her husband’s inauguration wearing a Cartier Baignoire Folle 18-carat white gold diamond ladies watch.
Eagle-eyed Nigerians were quick to spot the luxury accessory, and fashion experts put the retail price of the watch at about $52,000 (20.8 million).
In August of this year, Mrs. Buhari was again photographed arriving at the airport in Washington, D.C., holding a black Hermes Birkin designer 35 cm handbag.
Those in the know say an authentic Hermes Cognac Porosus Crocodile Birkin bag costs anywhere between $69,000 (N26,910,000) to $89,000 (N34,710,000).
The online conversation about Mrs. Buhari’s choice of clothing and accessories has often centered less on accusations of graft or embezzlement and more on the crass insensitivity displayed by her choice of clothing in the face of Nigeria’s current recession and the thousands of starving children who are victims of a seven-year-old Boko Haram insurgency in internally displaced people camps in the country’s northeast region.
Unfortunately, Mrs. Buhari and her representatives seem unfazed by the daily challenges of Nigeria’s people.