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Does Nigeria’s First Lady, Aisha Buhari really belong to the kitchen?

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Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has responded to criticism from his wife by saying she belongs in his kitchen.

On a visit to Germany, he said: “I don’t know which party my wife belongs to, but she belongs to my kitchen and my living room and the other room.”

Mr Buhari was standing next to Chancellor Angela Merkel, who seemed to glare at him.

Aisha Buhari had said she might not back her husband at the next election unless he got a grip on his government.

Responding to questions by reporters, Mr Buhari said that having run for president three times and having succeeded at the fourth attempt, he could “claim superior knowledge over her”.

In an interview with the BBC’s Hausa language service, Mrs Buhari, a businesswoman and activist, suggested her husband’s government had been hijacked by only a “few people”, who were behind presidential appointments.

Media caption“If it continues like this, I’m not going to be part of any [re-election] movement,” says Aisha Buhari

“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.

Her decision to go public with her concerns will shock many people, but it shows the level of discontent with the president’s leadership, says the BBC’s Naziru Mikailu in the capital, Abuja.

The president’s remarks on the kitchen and “the other room” have been met with outrage on social media.

There was immediate criticism for the president’s thoughts on the role of women.

Tweet saying Image copyrightTWITTER
Tweet saying Image copyrightTWITTER
Tweet saying Image copyrightTWITTER

Some are wondering what Mr Buhari meant by “the other room”, others have been posting pictures of a variety of bedrooms, and the hashtag #TheOtherRoom is trending in Nigeria.

Satirical writer Elnathan John complained that the president had ruined his column:

Tweet of prominent writer saying President Buhari ruined by satire column.Image copyrightTWITTER

The comments by the president sparked a flurry of explanatory tweets by his spokesperson, Mallam Garba Shehu, who said the president respected the place of women in society and believed in their ability. He dismissed the incident as a bit of “banter”:

Tweet by presidential spokesman saying Image copyrightTWITTER

A turning point for Nigeria? Analysis by Naziru Mikailu in Abuja

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari. Photo: September 2016Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES

Aisha Buhari campaigned vigorously for her husband in last year’s election in Nigeria, organising town hall meetings with women’s groups and youth organisations.

However, she kept a low profile at the start of the administration. She was restricted to her work on the empowerment of women and helping victims of the Boko Haram conflict in the north-east of the country where she is from.

This is one reason why this damning interview has caught the attention of many Nigerians.

It is a significant blow for Mr Buhari, who has a reputation for being a tough, no-nonsense president.

Mrs Buhari’s comments also bolster accusations that his government has been hijacked by a small group of individuals.

The comments could also mark a turning point for a government that has clearly struggled to deal with economic recession and is facing growing disquiet within the ruling party.


Aisha Buhari registers to vote as the president looks onImage copyrightAFP
Image captionPresident Buhari (L) may not be able to rely on Mrs Buhari’s (C) support if he chooses to run again in 2019

Mr Buhari was elected last year with a promise to tackle corruption and nepotism in government.

The Nigerian economy, battered by low global oil prices and a currency devaluation, officially entered recession in August for the first time in a decade.

Oil sales account for 70% of government income.

The president famously remarked at his inauguration that he “belongs to nobody and belongs to everybody”.


Aisha Buhari

  • Born in 1971 in north-eastern Nigeria’s Adamawa state, she is the granddaughter of the nation’s first Minister of Defence, Alhaji Muhammadu Ribadu.
  • She married Muhammadu Buhari in 1989. They have five children together, a boy and four girls.
  • In 1995 she opened the Hanzy Spa, northern Nigeria’s first beauty parlour, in Kaduna State.
  • She published the book The Essentials of Beauty Therapy: A Complete Guide for Beauty Specialists in 2014.
  • She is an advocate of human rights and has donated money to help the families of victims of Boko Haram after more than 250 girls were kidnapped by the militant group in 2014.
  • She caused upset in Nigeria last year after appearing in public wearing an expensive-looking watch, which led some to ask whether she was undermining Mr Buhari’s “man of the people” image.
  • Mrs Buhari was also criticised on social media for attempting to shake hands with the Alaafin of Oyo, a leading chief of the Yoruba people.

Souce: BBC Africa

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