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The Roundtable

As Nigeria’s First Family Openly Disagrees

Nigeria's first family
Posted: Oct 21, 2016 at 2:18 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

It rarely ever happens in the so-called developed world talk less the less developed; that the spouse of a head of government would publicly take her spouse to the cleaners, so to speak! Back in the days when England, and the rest of Europe, was ruled by imperial kings, a disagreeable wife would find herself suddenly pining away in a dank, dark and airless underground dungeon or, worse still, her head would have been separated from her body by an executioner’s sword! Just think of the reign of someone like Henry VIII for example.

The closest spectacle to the short-lived but high profile open disagreement between Aisha Buhari and her husband, Muhammadu Buhari, is the tragicomedy embodied in the three-part presidential debate between Democratic Party candidate Hilary Clinton and Republican Party candidate Donald Trump. To say that Buhari swallowed his wife’s bait hook, line and sinker is to state the very obvious. And like Trump who snatched defeat from the jaws of victory at a time American voters wanted a change in the White House, by dumping the scripted message for personal attacks, Buhari ill-advisedly chose to lash out at his wife.

“As states subsist in part by keeping their weaknesses from being known,” posited English metaphysical poet John Donne, “so is it the quiet of families to have their chancery and their parliament within doors, and to compose and determine all emergent differences there.” And that seems to be the point critics of Aisha’s public outburst are making. They contend that Aisha should have kept her dissenting opinions to herself, more so when her religion, Islam, frowns against such a seemingly aggressive, anti-family public posturing by housewives.

But two wrongs don’t make a right. No matter the amount of criticism anyone chooses to hurl at Aisha for initiating the public spat, the fact still remains that Buhari – as husband of his wife, father to his children and president of a nation, the most populous black nation in the world to boot – should have handled the situation with circumspection. American philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson must be smiling smugly in his grave over an observation he made nearly two centuries ago to the effect that “Every roof is agreeable to the eye, until it is lifted; then we find tragedy and moaning women, and hard-eyed husbands.”

It’s one thing to react angrily to remarks allegedly made by his wife by retorting that his wife’s place is in the kitchen and in “the other room,” but to do so without even first hearing from his wife and in a nation (Germany) headed by a female president (Angela Merkel), who was actually standing by his side at the world press conference, is an entirely different ball game. I’d have loved to be a fly on the wall in “the other room” the day/night Buhari returned home from his official trip to Germany.

I find it extremely difficult to believe that Aisha hadn’t expressed her mind on the issues she raised before now with her husband. It’s only concluding that she was engaging in a monologue with the deaf and dumb that she took the destiny of her family in her hands by going public. Her outburst was born of frustration, apprehension and helplessness. It is a course that she’s very determined to run to the finish line unless she procures what she’s seeking in-between. She’s quite prepared to dare the consequences.

Buhari must disdain the sweet but deceitful words of sycophants and praise singers around him. None among those now masquerading as his friends truly cares for his wellbeing as much as his wife. As a Spanish proverb says, “An ounce of blood is worth more than a pound of friendship.” Let Buhari not be deceived; majority of APC members and supporters – including dyed-in-the-wool Buharists – significantly agree with Aisha. And Nigeria of the 21st century is certainly not a country where women are fit only for the kitchen and “the other room.”

It is a trite saying that one should never change a winning team. It seems incomprehensible to me that Buhari not only bowed to taunts from those who don’t wish him well in making Bola Tinubu abandon his vice-presidential ambition, but would then leave majority of those who worked tirelessly to make his historic electoral victory a reality high and dry. He’s well advised to listen to the wise words of his loving wife and commence the process of honestly rebuilding his original winning coalition.