President Buhari with Nigerians in the Other Room

It began with Nigeria’s First Lady, Aisha Buhari, expressing her displeasure in a BBC interview on Thursday over her husband’s political appointments, and warning that if he didn’t change his ways, she may not campaign for his re-election.

Though it was unclear whether the first lady was suggesting the president reward friends with political appointments or that she was genuinely concerned about the ineptitude of his cabinet, what was apparent was her dissatisfaction with her husband’s leadership. 

President Buhari for his part, when asked about his wife’s criticism at a press conference in Berlin the next day, responded, “I don’t know which party my wife belongs to, but she belongs to my kitchen and my living room and the other room,” and drew a short glare from German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who was standing next to him.

Meanwhile, the president's spokesperson, Mallam Garba Shehu, attempted to explain it away as a joke.

Arguably, the president’s sentiment regarding women mirrors US Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump’s, who in a 1994 interview said, “Putting a wife to work is a very dangerous thing.” And it wasn't long before Nigeria’s Twitterverse was set ablaze. 

Nigerian writer, Okey Ndibe tweeted, “Muhammadu Buhari's statement betrays an absence of tack and exposes a profound disdain for women...”

Another tweet by Ogundana Michael, read, “President Buhari travelled all the way from Nigeria to meet a woman in Germany but feels his own wife belongs to the kitchen. Baba goofed...”

Nigerians were urged by Victor Asemota to elect a woman president in 2019. “Nigerian President Buhari has settled the "Women Should Cook" Twitter debate for his "loyal citizens". Don't get mad, elect a woman in 2019.”

Clever twitterers saw the humour in the other room, taking it to creative heights as typified in this tweet by Fifs!, “#TheOtherRoom A husband, a wife, loose lips and international katakata. A tale of betrayal and deceit. Coming to a cinema near you.” 

Others, like Ayo Shonaiya, wondered why the president couldn’t mention the other room by name. “President Buhari can say his wife belong to his kitchen & living room, but can't bring himself to say "bedroom" in public. Lol #TheOtherRoom.”

There was even speculation about where the president might be spending the night following his gaffe. “I suspect President Buhari might end up in the guest room after his "my wife belongs in my kitchen" remark,” tweeted Rebecca Enonchong.

Lest we forget, President Buhari appointed six female ministers to his cabinet. But then again, hiring women doesn’t necessarily mean one is an advocate of gender equality or women’s right. Just ask Donald Trump.

Photo: Weidner/Flickr

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