This article was written BY WILFRED OKICHE
When president Muhammadu Buhari’s visited Germany in October 2016, like many Nigerians who voted for Buhari in 2015, wife of the President, Aisha Buhari about a year into his presidency, found herself unimpressed. The Buhari presidency had admittedly arrived with lofty expectations but the man at the centre made it his business to dash every single one of them. Unlike most Nigerians, Aisha Buhari was in a position to speak out and when she did, she was unsparing.
The presidency must have been embarrassed by Aisha Buhari’s public approach to criticism and Buhari chose a moment when he was on the world stage to put his wife in her place. Responding to a query by a foreign journalist, Buhari offered a thorough dismissal of his wife, who was constantly at his side while he was on the campaign trail.
According to President Buhari, the first lady isn’t a card-carrying member of the political party, and thus had no reason to meddle in the very masculine world of hardcore politics. He then went on to utter the ugly words that would forever define him in terms of gender relations. “I don’t know which party my wife belongs to, but she belongs to my kitchen and my living room and the other room,” Buhari threw up while sitting next to the all-powerful and very female German chancellor, Angela Merkel.
There are many Nigerians who were embarrassed by Buhari’s outburst, and they should be. Not simply because it happened on foreign soil. Even though that was bad enough, it should worry Nigerians more that instead of choosing to engage with his life partner mentally and politically as an equal, instead of granting her the respect she deserves by virtue of her being a human person, the President chose to sink into the sewer of assuming that on account of her gender, Aisha has no right to weigh in such manly matters as politics.
In Buhari’s world, Aisha is merely a nuisance to be tolerated during election period as she smiles for the cameras and poses merrily with Akara sellers. Having an opinion of her own, let alone one contrary to the party line, decided upon by a roomful of men must be considered radical and retribution handed swiftly. In simple terms, women must never be encouraged to speak out of turn.
In March 2017, Nollywood actress and producer, Rita Dominic, a veteran of over fifteen years, a majority of them spent as a top-flight movie star, took the occasion of the release of her latest film, Bound, to advice that not all films should be screened in cinemas. The statement, put out via an innocuous enough Instagram post, was at once, rebuke and indictment. Her comments didn’t go down well, especially among those who considered themselves ‘’movers and shakers’’ of the industry.
The reactions to Ms Dominic’s post were not surprising. Nollywood, after all, is an industry not known to take well to criticism. But the response of film producer, Don Pedro Obaseki who made Igodo back in 1999 and hasn’t mattered in a long, long, time took the misogyny to another level. Brandishing his PhD, Obaseki thought it fitting to put Dominic in a place he considered hers. Obaseki reminded Dominic of her days as a struggling artiste ‘’roaming from one set to the other’’ and advised her to take a lesson in humility.
The irony was stark and reflective of a larger problem that even successful women are forced to contend with. That a filmmaker who hasn’t scored a hit in years considers himself superior to an in-demand actress just because they crossed paths at the early stages of her career. It didn’t matter that the actress has since gone on to co-star and produce her own film, the critically acclaimed The Meeting in the years since both last made contact.
It also didn’t occur to Obaseki in his rush to shame, and with his intent to punish, that Dominic like most contributors to a functional society, could actually take pride in her humble beginnings. A woman could be beautiful, wealthy, successful, and the average man still considers himself superior just because he is a man.
God help us all. Clearly, a lot needs to be done to redress all the assault that constantly targets women in Nigeria, what are the actionable steps we think can be done?
Do you agree with Wilfred’s points? Do you agree that the Nigeria society hates women?
Kindly share your opinions in the comments.