President Muhammadu Buhari has told his wife, Aisha, to stay out of politics. He reiterated his earlier comments that his wife belongs to his kitchen and room. The president’s remark is coming despite criticisms from international and local commentators who perceive his comments as disrespectful towards women.
Mrs. Buhari, in a BBC interview last week, said her husband does not know most of the top officials he has appointed. According to her, those who worked for the president have been abandoned for those who don’t even have voters’ cards.
The president’s wife expressed fear of rebellion from the over 15 million people who voted her husband in the 2015 election. But the president, in a joint press conference with the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, in Berlin, said Aisha was not as informed as he was about politics in the country and must remain at the home front.
Reacting to his wife’s salient queries about his leadership style, the president, who was on a state visit to Germany, laughed it off and said: “I don’t know which party my wife be longs to, but she belongs to my kitchen and living room and the other room.”
Again, in a different interview at the weekend with a German Radio, Deutsche Welle, Buhari reiterated his stand that his wife is meant to be in the kitchen and other parts of the house to take care of him. The president told a German broadcaster that his wife’s function was solely to look after him and the house.
He added that he wanted his wife to stay out of politics completely. The German Radio had asked the president to clarify his earlier statement, which has been generating heated debate across the media in the country. Many Nigerians have criticised the president for reducing his wife to kitchen and bedroom roles.
Buhari told his interviewer that: “I am sure you have a house…. You know where your kitchen is, you know where your living room is and I believe your wife looks after all of that, even if she is working.” When the president was pressed further about his wife’s role, he said: “Yes, to look after me.” And when asked if Aisha should stay out of politics, he said: “I think so.”
Baring his mind about the gender equality bill, which failed passage at the National Assembly, the president said anytime the bill is passed by the National Assembly, it will be considered for passage by the Presidency within the framework of what is acceptable by Nigeria’s cultural peculiarities.
Meanwhile, Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State has urged President Buhari to yield to the calls of many Nigerians and his wife, Aisha, for a rejig of the federal cabinet. Mrs. Buhari in an interview with the BBC, last week, warned that she will not support the re-election of her husband in 2019 if the president failed to effect major changes in his cabinet.
Speaking to State House correspondents yesterday in Abuja, the Imo State governor explained that there was nothing wrong for the president to consider the many voices of Nigerians who feel he needs to effect changes in the cabinet.
Okorocha was among the president’s delegation to Germany for talks with the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel. Okorocha said: “Quite frankly, I am a governor and I know where the shoe pinches most. It is like somebody in the game and those who are outside seem to see more.
So, it’s natural. “If there is a clarion call to say ‘Mr. President, look into your cabinet and bring in more people,’ there is nothing wrong for the president to take note of the comments from Nigerians because if everyone keeps saying the same thing there must be sense in what they are saying.”
Okorocha, who is also the chairman of Progressives Governors’ Forum (PGF), told reporters that most people within the All Progressives Congress (APC) were not comfortable with the present arrangement regarding appointment into key positions at the federal level.
The governor noted: “Most people in the party feel they are not carried along. So many people in the party who worked for the party are complaining everyday they want appointment of boards released. “The people in the South-East are saying that they have not been appointed, some people from the North-East are saying they have not been appointed, even some people in the North-West where the president comes from. Some people at local governments and villages are saying they have not been remembered so at what point do we redraw this line. But there is always room for amendment.”
The governor stated that the reaction of the president to his wife’s interview was a joke. He said Nigeria was passing through trying times and needed the cooperation of citizens for positive changes to be made and not the kind of distraction coming from reactions on both the interview and the president’s response.
“Both the president’s wife and the president’s interviews were taken out of context,” Okorocha added. On the content of the president’s wife BBC interview and the subsequent reply by Buhari, he said Aisha did not grant the interview to bring down her husband as being insinuated in some quarters.
He equally maintained that the president’s reaction to the interview was just on a lighter mood, saying that Buhari was only cracking jokes. Okorocha, who narrated how his wife once joined some commissioners and workers in Imo to condemn certain official decision he took, said Aisha’s comments were not meant to disrespect the president or the APC.