EDITORIAL- Women belong NOT just to the kitchen, living room and ‘the other room’
The news media, and social media walls are suffused with the controversy over the recent public verbal feud between Nigeria’s First Lady, Aisha Buhari, and her husband, President Buhari.
Aisha recently took her case to the world, when she granted a controversial interview to the BBC, denouncing her husband’s leadership approach, and threatening to withdraw her support in an anticipated 2019 reelection campaign unless he shakes up his government politically.
In a BBC interview, Aisha Buhari suggested his government had been hijacked by only a “few people”, who were behind presidential appointments.
But the President Buhari’s response set the global media fraternity on fire when standing alongside German Chancellor Angela Merkel at a news conference, he said “I don’t know which party my wife belongs to, but she belongs to my kitchen and my living room and the other room.”
While Buhari’s camp played down this comment as a mere expression of humor, majority of Nigerians and other communities worldwide denounced the comment as chauvinistic, and utterly abusive.
While Buhari’s statement was swiftly excused by Garber Shehu as a joke, the issue of a woman’s place in contemporary society hardly seems comedy material for any sitting president.
In a later interview, Buhari boldly reiterated his stance, saying his wife’s most important duty was to “look after” him and the home “even if she’s working”.
Aljazirahnews believes Buhari had no reason not to anticipate the question since the story broke three days earlier.
He should have sat down with his staff and worked out the best answer. Probably the best answer to us was to parry the question and say, “Are you sure my wife said that? Please wait until I go back home and interview her myself. She could have been quoted out of context.”
Sadly his comments came just three days after the International Day of the Girl Child, meant to focus on the plight of disadvantaged girls all over the world.
The sad truth is that while the Nigerian president’s comments could be dismissed as the remarks of a 73-year-old with outdated views, in reality his statements accurately reflect widely held beliefs in a stubbornly patriarchal society.
The role of women in politics and government is gradually changing and cannot be over emphasized.
Aljazirahnews notes the fact that Nigerian women are in active politics which is not in doubt in the on-going Fourth Republic.
Prominent women for example include Dr Okonjo Iweala, Prof Dora Akunyili, Oby ezekwesili, and others who have contributed to the Nigerian economy, nay, and Nigerian politics.
Women are making waves in the society. Nigeria now has women senators and lawmakers, women now head ministries and parastatals in Nigeria, and they are doing well.
To say that a woman belongs to the kitchen was the worst possible answer in this 21st century when notions of gender, racial and other equality are very high. Even worse, the president said this in Europe, where the notion is doubly high.
Worse still, he was standing next to the German Chancellor. President Buhari also said this at a time when the British Prime Minister is a woman and the possibly next President of the United States is a woman.
Furthermore, sadly Garba Shehu failed to relate with his boss (Buhari) on the latter’s statement that his wife belonged to the kitchen. He waved it off by saying he was joking. This shows the lack of connection, cooperation, and understanding between the Buhari and his special assistant.
Another issue that calls for serious concern is the lack of preparation from the Nigerian delegate in Germany.
A picture surfaced online in which Nigerian delegates appeared as though their main purpose of attending the conference was to dine and wine with the German Chancellor and her team.
No paper and pen was spotted on their table. German counterparts on the other side had their jotting materials in place as if they were ready for war.
Aljazirahnews condemns this shoddy preparation by the our so called delegation. This may have been the reason why even the Nigerian press could not quote the actual cash figure the German government promised to support the country in its engagement with the Germans.
In this time of economic crisis cum hardship, Nigerian leaders travelled abroad with no aim and purpose, no vision and certainly no objective.
The outing was negatively astoundingly compounded with the less than dignifying statement against women by Mr President.