Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari responded to criticism made by his wife in the most sexist of ways — by claiming she “belonged in the kitchen” and that he had “superior knowledge” about running the government.
Buhari’s blatantly misogynist remark came during a news conference in Berlin which he was attending besides one of the most powerful women in the world, Germany’s Chancellor, Angela Merkel.
“I don't know exactly what party my wife belongs to. Actually she belongs in the kitchen, the living room and the other rooms in my house,” Buhari told reporters with a chuckle.
Buhari was responding to a BBC interview in which his wife Aisha, known for her activism, questioned his leadership and stated she would not be supporting his re-election unless he took control of his government.
The first lady of Nigeria claimed her husband’s government was being “hijacked” by a few people.
“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 against her husband might have shocked the Nigerian public, but it shows the level of discontent with the current president’s leadership.
The remark by the president had his spokesperson Mallan Garba Shehu scrabbling for an explanation.
Politics sometimes should be spiced with humour. Those of us around him know there is never a dull moment with him.— Garba Shehu (@GarShehu) October 14, 2016
Mr. President respects the place of women in our society. He believes in the abilities of women.— Garba Shehu (@GarShehu) October 14, 2016
However, this attempt at damage control was not enough to pacify the outrage on the media.
People cant wait to call #MuhammaduBuhari a typical northern Muslim misogynist. Look at wife & daughters. Shrinking violets are they?— Maimuna Bappa (@MaimunaB) October 14, 2016
I hope president Buhari's view on where his wife belongs doesn't not apply to all women. #MuhammaduBuhari— WORDS WITH ACTIONS (@wordswithaction) October 14, 2016
Some people are wondering what Buhari meant by “the other rooms.” Some social media users have taken to posting pictures of bedrooms and the hashtag #TheOtherRoom is trending in Nigeria.
#MuhammaduBuhari 'My wife belongs in the kitchen, the living room & the other room'. I hope the other room is a ticket to civilisation— Brendan 🇪🇺 (@Brendan_Surrey) October 14, 2016
Women/Girls belong everywhere they darn well CHOOSE -Boardroom, Living room, Bedroom, Situation room, in Space or on the Moon😊 #TheOtherRoom— Juliet 'Kego (@julietkego) October 14, 2016
Do not forget that there are many important people in this country who still believe a 14 year old girl belongs in #TheOtherRoom.— Amara Nwankpa (@Nwankpa_A) October 14, 2016
Aisha campaigned relentlessly for her husband during last year’s election campaign in Nigeria, inspiring women and youth all across Nigeria. However, at the start of the administration, she kept a low profile and restricted herself to helping victims of the Boko Haram conflict and empowering women.
The damning interview is a severe blow to Buhari, who has a reputation being tough on corruption, but who in latter days has been struggling to deal with economic recession in the country.