Nigerian President Buhari’s deplorable comments about his wife only serve as a poor reflection of his ego — they do not take anything away from women’s exemplary contribution to the continent’s history and legacy
By Bashir Goth,
At a time when issues of sexual harassment and women’s rights dominate the narrative of the United States presidential race, it was unfortunate for an African leader of the most populous, most ethnically diverse and most culturally rich country in the continent to insult his wife and in fact all African women before the whole world.
“I don’t know which party my wife belongs to, but she belongs to my kitchen and my living room and the other room,” said President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria, in response to his wife Aisha Buhari’s criticism of his government’s performance.
Buhari’s reaction is an insult to African women and it has left a bad taste in the mouth with African men as well, particularly as Buhari stood beside German Chancellor Angela Merkel, one of Europe’s most powerful women leaders and indeed a wife herself. I can only imagine how much Merkel must have cringed when she heard Buhari’s insulting words to his wife and to women as a whole. British online newspaper Independent reported that Merkel ostensibly “glared at him before laughing briefly”. What else could she have done? As an old Arab adage says: “The worst misfortune is the one that makes you laugh.”
Unfortunately, the western media may just dismiss his comments as an awkward view from an African leader, but it is a serious matter. More so, since women are known to be the backbone of African economy, apart from holding together the continent’s social fabric.
When I read Aisha’s strong comments against her husband’s choice of people for ministerial and other senior government posts, I could understand that she was obviously not happy that the people who worked hard for the party to win the elections, people on whose shoulders Muhammadu reached the presidency, were passed over in government appointments and opportunistic outsiders were favoured, who were not even members of the party. She even mentioned that she spoke to the president and conveyed to him complaints that she had heard from the people. But as the president decided to ignore her advice, she finally decided to go public with her frustration and put her disappointment on record as a citizen.
“As a person, I have my right to say how I feel about something. If it continues like this, I am not going to be a part of any movement again, because I need to work with people who started the journey collectively so that we can achieve what we want to achieve; so that he would leave behind a legacy,” she said in an interview with BBC.