To say President Muhammadu Buhari has had a bad week would be putting it mildly. Now that I think of it, he has had a catastrophe of a year. Of course it isn’t very good to say or think such things because it’s me stating the obvious, and anything that can ever be said to be obvious must be banished to silence. This is why only a true disaster of a human being would comment on the wetness of water.
Last week the good president said that his wife Aisha belonged to the kitchen, the bedroom and the other room, after she told the BBC and the rest of us that she didn’t quite approve of the way he was making his appointments. It’s a fair observation. It pains me daily that Solomon Dalung is still the Minister of Sports, but this is Nigeria, shamelessness is the virtue we honour the most, and there is no scandal that cannot be weathered.
The President’s comments about his wife, Aisha, are mostly a symptom of him being the terrible face of Nigerian male patriarchy - he is a man so deeply rigid, unbending and seemingly vindictive that every move he makes looks to be taken from the dictator’s bible. Nigeria was so eager for change that it failed to consider what it would be changing to. Blessed with the clarity that only a recession can bring, the country seems to be coming to its senses and saying, “This man has not done anything remarkable or anything new.”
He doesn’t even have the advantages that Donald Trump has. He can’t send a wife with a designer habit in front of a camera to help him fix his shit. The last time she sat in front of the media, she effectively threw him under the bus, and Buhari being a true son of the military dropped a bomb on both himself and the bus.
Through some extraordinarily bad PR and the curse that is a mouth that both refuses to accept responsibility for his political failings or bend to the demands of modernity, he’s invited a storm upon his household and his government. Now, we know why the President has spent so much time abroad. It’s because the turbulence brewing in his marriage has created so much commotion that he can no longer bear the trappings of the presidential mansion.
The greatest shame of it is that we’ve all but forgotten that his administration has effectively defeated Boko Haram, and rescued 20 of the 200 Chibok girls from captivity. But, is it not our failings that define us most clearly? This could explain why our First Lady Aisha has raged against the political machine. The present government strikes me as a sinking ship, all who fail to speak even a word of criticism must be prepared to sink with it. It’s either that or the sequence of words many Northern women fear to hear: “I divorce you once. I divorce you twice. I divorce you thrice.” If that’s the case she’s positioned herself very nicely. But for the rest of us, we can only wish ridding ourselves of political baggage was so simple.