Nigeria’s President has been condemned after dismissing criticism from his wife by saying she “belongs to my kitchen”.
President Muhammadu Buhari was responding after his wife, Aisha Buhari, said she might not support him at the next election unless he replaced senior members of his government.
Speaking at a press conference during a visit to Germany, the President said: “I don’t know which party my wife belongs to, but she belongs to my kitchen and my living room and the other rooms.”
He also suggested he had “superior knowledge” over her and his other critics “because in the end I have succeeded” in politics.
The 73-year-old President made the comments while standing next to German Chancellor Angela Merkel. She was reported to have glared at him before laughing briefly.
Mr Buhari’s statement has been widely condemned, with commentators and social media users slamming the “joke”.
Daniel Bekele, director of Human Rights Watch’s Africa division, said the remarks were “sexist and offensive”.
“A strong response is urgently needed from Africa and beyond to condemn President Buhari’s statement objectifying women. He should urgently apologise for his words and act in a manner that demonstrates his apology is genuine,” he wrote.
But Nigeria’s presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, said the President’s comments should not be taken seriously.
“Politics sometimes should be spiced with humour. Those of us around him know there is never a dull moment with him,” he tweeted.
“Mr President respects the place of women in our society. He believes in the abilities of women.”
Ms Buhari had earlier told the BBC her husband needed to shake up his government and remove ministers who did not share the vision of his All Progressives Congress (APC) party.
“The president does not know 45 out of 50 of the people he appointed and I don’t know them either, despite being his wife of 27 years,” she said.
“If things continue like this … I will not go out and campaign again and ask any woman to vote like I did before. I will never do it again.” (UK Independent)
Did President Buhari really think he could get away with his ‘joke’, on foreign soil, in front of a world press?
Did he really think German Chancellor Angela Merkel was laughing with him, or at him?
Did he really think his ‘joke’ will not be regarded as sexist and offensive?
Did he really think Nigerians would rally round his ‘joke’, condemning all women to the kitchen and living room and all other rooms?
This ‘banter’ or Trump-like locker room comment has exposed Buhari in a way that should concern not only women in or out of his cabinet, but Nigerians as a whole. As a President, an experienced leader, he ought to know the world has changed and his every comment would be analysed. He hasn’t done himself any justice.
For Shehu Garba to declare that Buhari’s ‘joke’ was his way of spicing up the political arena says it all. “He was obviously throwing a banter” declares Shehu. Well, as you obviously can see, this banter isn’t so obvious. His series of tweets (as seen below) in defence of his boss does not wash. These guys are far removed from the world of communication. It is so obvious that they are of the opinion that a Nigerian laced humour must be respected all over the world.
A simple apology would have sufficed and would have automatically made the 74-year old seemingly out of reach Nigerian President a ‘modern’ leader. Apparently, accolades were already poured on him, condemning the notion that Buhari gags his wife. It appears to be real and no longer a notion. What a shame.
I don’t know how Buhari would wriggle out of this one, but be rest assured that it wouldn’t be his last goof.