Garba Shehu should not have bothered.
He really shouldn’t have.
In the aftermath of Buhari’s misogynistic comments about his wife’s place, while standing right next to the female Chancellor of Germany, the Presidential spokesman rushed to the defence of his principal like a knight in shining armour, to save the day. Perhaps in his mind, he has to be the one coming with the clothes with which to cover the emperor.
He needn’t have bothered. This emperor wants to remain naked.
Muhammadu Buhari wasn’t throwing ‘a banter’ on Friday, and neither is he interested in pretending to anyone about what he really thinks. This latest episode of ‘Buhari Uncensored’ sees him being given another opportunity to clarify his comments made not quite 48 hours prior.
A journalist from Germany’s Deutsche Welle gave him an opening, and just in case we didn’t hear him clearly on Friday, Buhari responded by saying that the kitchen and living room are a woman’s responsibility even if she has a job – capping it off by saying Aisha Buhari’s responsibility is to look after him.
He did not attempt to play down his comments by calling them a poor attempt at humour, even though that is probably what his media team advised given the backlash. He did not think he needed to. Because he believes he, the wisest of them all, is right.
By confirming his initial remarks, Muhammadu Buhari has shown that he is exactly like America’s openly misogynistic presidential candidate, Donald Trump. And that is truly frightening.
Trump’s dominant view of women is as outright sex objects, who exist only for his pleasure, since he is rich and famous. He takes delight in judging women in public and in private by their looks, employing the vilest, cruellest language possible.
For his part, Nigeria’s president views women as caregivers first and foremost, and once they try to rise above their station, as his wife did by challenging his choices, he doesn’t hesitate to remind them of their place.
Both these viewpoints are closely related, and it’s important that they are seen for what they are.
To both Trump and Buhari, women are disposable. They have agency only to the extent they are allowed. If you are a woman and you decide you will not be Trump’s plaything or Buhari’s nanny, you are swiftly cast aside after being reminded of your place in the scheme of things.
Donald Trump and Muhammadu Buhari are not the first men to voice opinions like this, nor will they be the last. In fact, these are very widespread views among men – and women – that have been perpetuated over centuries. What is different is that women who have been silenced for too long now have a voice, and have begun to push back against these ideas.
And that is not the only similarity between the two men.
They both display wilful ignorance in the face of fact based discourse. Donald Trump has made three dozen false claims in each of his two debates against Hillary Clinton so far and regularly holds positions far adrift of any reality. Buhari is much the same, as evidenced by Nigeria’s disastrous forex policy, a policy that he provides political cover for. The result of that policy has been a loss of credibility by Nigeria that could take years to reverse. And he never apologizes. Because, as he sees it. He is never wrong.
Nigerians have ‘entered one chance’.
In America’s case, they have all but confirmed that they will not be going down the fact-free, misogynist route of Donald Trump. They stand ready to issue a stinging rebuke to him and his supporters at the general elections on November 3rd.
Unfortunately for Nigeria, Buhari is already president.
But that does not mean he should not get the pushback, and ridicule, his statements – and worldview – richly deserve.