Abdulrafiu Lawal, a Public Commentator pens down his thought about the ‘my wife belongs to the kitchen and other rooms saga’. Read below:
In Nigeria today, every issue is beclouded by sentiments. Aisha Buhari’s BBC Hausa service interview is not an exception. Nigerians considered its appropriateness or not on the basis of the North/South divide. Some people from the South see her as a vocal first lady and a voice for women’s rights, while those from the conservative North see her as an “outcast” for dressing her husband down in public. My position is that those who see Aisha Buhari’s rebellious act as a good omen should pray that they experience such in the hands of their wives, either in the mosque, church or any public place. It is only then that they would appreciate the difference between honour and disgrace. Many of us as Nigerians are hypocrites who encourage and support in others what we will not accept as individuals; we do this publicly because of certain political interests that might be personal.
However, regardless of where one comes from or stands in this matter, there are two things to take away from the Aisha Buhari outburst. First was how the first lady simply chose to crush the president’s ego before Nigerians and the world. She also showcased his flaws, both as a husband and president. Her attempt to whitewash this subsequently, like she sought to at Benisheikh, Kaga local government area in Borno State on Thursday, will possibly not change anything. According to her, at the said occasion; “On our campaign promises to Nigerians, especially to the people of Borno State, we thank Almighty Allah for giving us the opportunity of beginning to fulfill these promises.
That is the essence of being a good leader; when you promise, you try to fulfill your promises. That is what we are all after. And what I am after in particular is the success of my husband’s administration. And we can’t do it alone, except with the help of the governors, their wives and members of our progressive party and all Nigerians.” Her Benisheikh balm for the badly bruised Nigerian president amounted to rushing to give a person, who you had already stripped in the market place, a blanket to cover his body. Its an exercise in futility, because the public has already seen the other side of the person.
Two instances lend credence to this argument. Senator Binta Masi from Adamawa State, who is also a good friend of the first lady, was sarcastic about the “kitchen and the other room” statement on the floor of the Senate on October 20, 2016. This is what we refer to as “Shagube” in Hausa. I expected that considering her relationship with the first lady and the age of her husband, President Buhari, Masi ought to know better. She should not be the one to make fun of the president’s comments as a mark of respect for her friend and possibly the husband.
One cannot blame Senator Masi though, it was Aisha who in her peculiar sort of “wisdom” forgot the sacrifice they had made for twenty-seven years and used a fifteen minutes interview to turn her husband and the president of one hundred and eighty millions Nigerians into a toothpick for her friend. Like I said in an earlier piece, “Aisha Buhari: Good Intention, Wrong Approach”, Aisha has unconsciously made foes for the president within and outside the party, and offered them a weapon to fight him with. This is already yielding dividends, no thanks to a new Hausa song tagged “Baba Yagaza”, mocking the president for allegedly failing to deliver and asking him to pack his things and go, before he is humiliated out of office. Anyone who speaks Hausa and followed how President Buhari was ushered into Aso Rock seventeen months ago, will weep on listening to the song.
The musician quoted Aisha Buhari’s interview to drive home his point. I do not think the musician could have had the guts to wax such a record a year ago, but today Aisha Buhari has emboldened him to do so. Before now, waxing a record to condemn Buhari in Northern Nigeria was tantamount to signing one’s death warrant, but Aisha Buhari has now set the pace with her reckless talk on the BBC Hausa Service and many more musicians will key in to it.
Hausa songs were some of the tools employed by the All Progressives Congress (APC) to market President Buhari in Northern Nigeria in the countdown to the 2015 general elections. This was how the likes of Rara Na Kahutu with his “Masu gudu Su gudu” song became an instant celebrity. Today, the same medium is being used to rubbish him as an “incompetent and obstinate” person, no thanks to the Aisha Buhari’s interview. Contrary to what many Nigerians think, Aisha Buhari is not the first Northerner to throw “her husband under the bus” using the media.
She only pioneered it at the level of the presidency. Some years ago, the wife of Professor Jibril Aminu, a one time Vice Chancellor of the University of Maiduguri did the same to her husband over some unresolved matrimonial issues. Though, the Aminus are Fulanis like the Buharis, the only difference is that she used the print media and the statuses of the individuals concerned in the eyes of Nigerians are different. There was also the case of Adamu Yuguda Dibal, deputy governor, Borno State between 2003 and 2011, whose aggrieved wife granted an explosive interview to the Sun newspapers over alleged cases of matrimonial squabble. Some mischief makers at that time tried to link the interview with a colleague of mine and state correspondent of the Sun newspapers in Borno State, but it turned out that he knew nothing about it.
Unlike the Buhari approach, Dibal tactfully managed his, as the newspaper never circulated in Maiduguri and the story fizzled out in the court of public opinion. The submission of 46 names of ambassadorial nominees by the presidency to the Senate on October 20, 2016, including that of Aisha Buhari’s confidant, Pauline Tallen, without due consultations could be traced as one of the ripple effects of the Aisha interview. Her rejection of the nomination on the grounds of family health, the lack of prior consultation and allowing other Plateau indigenes an opportunity to get federal appointments only compounded the issue.
It also confirmed the widely held belief that a “communication gap” between her and the president was partly responsible for the outburst. This is because one does not need a soothsayer to know that President Buhari wanted to appease Aisha by nominating Tallen. At this point, some All Progressive Congress (APC) chieftains and governors are now celebrating the fact that at least the president has now seen reason to consult them before making appointments in the future. The only snag is that Aisha has unconsciously given them an idea on how to “hit” him the next time he refuses to toe the party line. The lesson for spouses whose husbands are occupying public office in Nigeria is to always guard their utterances in public. One minute of loose talk can make or mar their husbands.
They should also pray that their emotions never becloud their senses of judgment, like Aisha Buhari’s did. Now that her interview is yielding dividends or what the Hausa speakers describe as “garin gyaran gira, an rasa ido”, I hope that Aisha Buhari is relieved and happy that she has unconsciously become part of the tool fashioned to pull down what they both toiled to build in twenty seven years, due to poor judgment. Regardless of what becomes of the Buhari presidency, the Aisha Buhari BBC Hausa Service interview episode will remain a permanent stain on her husband’s presidency. This is because it is a mini form of spousal referendum on a man seen as one of Africa’s most respected living president today. She has demystified him and done unquantifiable damage to his presidency.