In what appears to be another display of brazen opulence, wife of the President of Nigeria, Aisha Buhari has been spotted wearing a £15,000 Chopard Happy Sport 36 MM stainless steel diamonds encrusted watch, (valued at N8.25 million at today’s free market forex rate of N550 per £1) raising more questions about the frugality, anti-corruption and man of the people image that got her husband elected as President of Nigeria in March 2015.
Mrs. Aisha Buhari, wife of Nigeria’s president, Muhammadu Buhari | Handout from Office of the First Lady
A statement released by her Future Assured pet project via a tweet on Monday contained an image of the First Lady and a short message disclosing that she was in New York to meet with United Nations hosted organisation, Stop TB Partnership at the 71st United Nations General Assembly (UNGA 71).
Screengrab from chopard website
The last time Aisha Buhari visited the United States, she said she was on a visit to hold discussions with aid organizations on how to help the women and children facing starvation in the north eastern part of Nigeria. Her visit was however marred with the scandal of a Hermes Birkin 35cm Porosus Crocodile Gold Hardware Bag worth $105, 000 (over N40 million) which she was carrying as she arrived the United States.
Many questioned the rationale of her fund-raising visit to the United States when the price of her handbag alone is enough to feed thousands of IDPs for months.
In this new visit to the United States, Aisha Buhari is seen wearing a £15,000 Chopard Happy Sport 36 MM stainless steel diamonds encrusted watch. When converted to Nigerian Naira at the current exchange rate of N545 to £1, the wristwatch is worth N8, 175,000.
To fairly appreciate the value of an N8 million wristwatch (yes, wristwatch), N8 million is worth 4 times more than the annual salary of a serving Nigerian minister and twice the amount a minister is entitled to for his/her annual housing allowance.
The Chopard diamond brand has become legendary and famous amongst the world’s wealthiest individuals. Upon purchase, a buyer gets a certificate to authenticate that the diamonds on the watch are not blood diamonds.
Breaking it further down for those who would dismiss as a non-issue, an N8 million diamonds encrusted wristwatch for the wife of Nigeria’s frugal President who claimed having only 150 cows before his election as President, reports indicate that more than 50 percent of Nigerians live below the international poverty line of $1.25 per day, according to the United Nations.
Coming at a time Nigeria is officially in recession, recall that prior to Buhari’s trip to New York for UNGA, a statement from the Nigerian presidency disclosed that the president would also use the opportunity to scout for investors to invest in Nigeria’s critical sectors.
Political analysts however insist that the continued flamboyant spending of the Nigerian government under Buhari sends across the image of a nation that is not in any serious financial or economic crisis.
It gets worse when Nigerian athletes who risked their time, efforts and talents to represent Nigeria at the just concluded Rio 2016 Paralympics received what has been described as the worst funding support from the Nigerian government ever. Nigeria’s Minister of Sports Solomon Dalung announced to distraught Nigerian athletes in Rio the government’s reward of $2,000 (two thousand dollars only) for winning a prestigious Gold medal at the games.
Buhari’s frugal, austere, man of the people image was first diluted when his wife, Aisha, was pictured wearing an expensive-looking watch at her husband’s inauguration in May 2015. The wristwatch, a Cartier Baignoire Folle 18-carat white gold diamond timepiece was estimated to have cost around $50,000 – more than £30,000 or about 17 million Nigerian naira. Report of the development sparked public outrage, making international news headlines.