‘I won’t be successful until all women are empowered’ – Muhammadu Buhari, January, 2016.
‘My wife belongs to my kitchen’ – Muhammadu Buhari, October 2016.
In recent times, President Buhari has definitely not been the favourite person of the average Nigerian, but nothing could have prepared me for the comment he made in response to Aisha Buhari’s interview in which she went on record documenting concerns that have generally been expressed in his still brief but disappointing tenure as President. His response betrays the expectations one will expect from a man who has been branded as a progressive. I was saddened as a Nigerian and insulted as a woman.
Everyday and for the past several years, women have struggled to gain social, political, and economic equality of the sexes. We have faced unequal and biased treatment and often times, we have been held back on our rights as people because of our gender. Gender stratification has been wide spread and whilst a bit subdued is still prominent in Nigerian society. But no matter how ‘popular’ an attitude becomes, as long as it is negative and just flat out wrong, the President of a country (especially one as currently broken as Nigeria) has no business whatsoever pushing such a narrative.
Not only did the statement(s) made by President Buhari insinuate that a woman’s place is behind the stove and under the sheets but he did so after a comment centered around his wife not belonging to a party. The implication being that based on her gender she should have no say in the political affairs/running of the country, but also that women as a whole have no place in the government. (the same government that has female ministers in cabinet). He then went on to reference his supposed superiority in knowledge over his wife.
Although I am livid over the statement, as I see it as a complete slap in the face to feminists and anyone else who has supported and tried to push gender equality movements, I also beseech you to remember that our President was addressing his wife. A woman with whom he has shared a home for the past twenty-seven years.
Muhammadu Buhari, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, proved himself to be a discourteous and completely sexist president while at the same time trying to publicly reduce his wife to a gender role.
That is not okay.