While Mr President’s response to his wife’s remark on his leadership style continues to stir the polity, many have argued that it is the total sum of his view of womenfolk. However, Dean, Faculty of Law, University of Lagos, Professor Akin Ibidapo-Obe, an expert in African Law, feels otherwise. He spoke with Woman’s Own.
WHAT do you make of Mr President’s response to his wife’s interview with BBC Hausa which is already generating so much controversy?
Buhari’s response was not right because, you know, in Concept of the African Woman, we do understand that the African woman is a strong voice that must be expressed. But people have the misconception that the African woman is a voice that must be suppressed. But that is not true.
But was Aisha right to have chastised him in public on international media?
There is nothing right or wrong about it. It’s left for us to make our conclusion but that should not be whether it’s right or wrong. Will it be better for her to botten explode at the wrong time or whatever? Let her express herself and let Buhari either take a cue from that and make whatever adjustment that he needs to make.
EDUCATION AND EXPOSURE
You don’t put a woman through such expansive education and exposure and then tell her that her role is in the kitchen and in the bedroom. I want to believe that our president was just merely being merry; in a lighter mood. If he indeed felt that her role was really in the kitchen, how would she have had a Masters Degree in International Relations and all?
African tradition teaches us that a man and his wife should settle differences in the bedroom; in private. But Aisha did the opposite…
We’re substituting our own view for the view of the Britons. There is nothing like ‘a woman cannot express herself’ in Africa. As a matter of fact, true African culture says the woman should express herself. My wife expresses herself and her feelings. Everybody has equal right of self-expression. Why do we always expect the woman to be the one to diminish her role to suit the male perspective or the male person?
In your own view, would you say the place of the African woman is still in the kitchen and should any man be saying such in the 21st century?
I told you the president only said that as a form of joke. The reality of the president’s attitude to women is the fact that Aisha has gone through the educational grooming and international exposure. That is the reality of Buhari’s perspective; not when he now cracks a joke and we say “haa, this is how it goes”. Anybody can say that! That’s not a matter of perception. The reality of what Aisha has gone through in terms of educational exposure, in my opinion, is the true view of Buhari’s perception of women.
If you allow your wife to have education and exposure and then you just look at her and say her place is in the kitchen, even when it’s not as if she doesn’t fulfil those roles in the home, that cannot be taken as a serious comment. In fact, it is not derogatory because whether we like it or not, she is in charge of those duties in the home. We shouldn’t over-blow what Buhari said. Beyond his words in Germany, the President has expressed his opinion and view of womanhood by his action of allowing his wife to have proper exposure educationally and internationally.
But this ‘true view about women’ which you argue about is not reflected in the proportion of women compared to men in his cabinet, which is in fact one of the lowest we’ve had in recent times…
It is not the sole duty of the President to choose precisely who and who should be in his cabinet. Don’t forget that this is a collective government. If there are few women, then maybe that is what the political atmosphere, party nominations and some personal nominations provided for. You know, sometimes, when a President wants to appoint a representative from a state, he has to consult the people there to nominate somebody. We cannot put the low number of women in the cabinet solely on Buhari’s table. If they ask Imo State for example to bring a nominee and they bring a man, do you expect Buhari to change it to a woman? We’re in a democracy and people should understand that.
And what’s your response to men who are already saying they would send their wives packing the next day if she did that to them?
I don’t think that is the correct thing to do. If you have a wife with whom you’re in good understanding, you must understand that she is frankly expressing herself and that it is in your best interest to consider her views.
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