Storm in a tea cup
These are very interesting times, indeed.
Despite the recession, which is enough reason for Nigerians to technically or virtually slip into deep depression and wallow in anguish occasioned by the hard times, they’re indeed lucky to have all the reasons in the world to smile.
Despite the recession, or even because of it, many Nigerians have devised more than enough means to “suffer and smile” as the inimitable Fela would put it. In the last few days and at no cost to us, we have been exposed to free entertainment every day, especially from the social media which have given a free reign to the tantrums of Donald Trump, struggling to be the worst president America would ever have, and our own storm in the tea cup from the villa. Need I mention the tragicomedy on display, courtesy of our judiciary which is struggling to bail itself out from the entrapment of some rotten eggs oozing out some not so palatable smell. And the show continues.
Now those who have been forced by the current circumstances to take a leave of their God-given sense of humour, erroneously think the whole world of what ordinarily should have passed as a comedy of errors. But no. Instead, they decided to make a mountain out of a mole hill, if you permit this worn out cliché. I’m, of course, referring to the little palava between our president and his missus which palava they took all the way to foreign shores to an audience, which like some Nigerians were hopelessly bereft of our own brand of humour.
Mrs Aisha Buhari, who goes by the modest title of Wife of the President instead of the more elegant one that puts her ahead of and above all other ladies, went on air last week, courtesy of the Hausa Service of the BBC, and told the world that some nosy interlopers were putting sand in her husband’s garri. From her spacious corner in the kitchen, she should know. As if that was not bad enough, she added, for good measure, that these same people were equally determined to put spanner in the works and make her husband look bad in the eyes of the citizens.
Where were these people in the years of struggle? She did not see them when they were in the sun and the rain working tirelessly to make her husband president of Africa’s biggest country. And, the chic of it, these people are now reaping where they did not sow, in the process causing disaffection between those who should be there and are not there and those who shouldn’t be there but are there. She did not stop at that. After a careful reflection, she believes that they should be held responsible for what many worried Nigerians, especially die-hard Buhari supporters feel is the slow pace of work in the villa which is hampering speedy implementation of Buhari’s electoral promises including putting the right people in the right positions.
She tried to remind us that this Buhari is nearly not the Buhari Nigerians, 15 million of them, elected to govern the country and bring change and salvation to the people, put a smile on their faces and a sumptuous food on their table. If the BBC had given her enough time, I guess she would have sworn that her husband could do far better than we have witnessed so far. If the people she knew and the ones who had been planning with her husband in the last 12 years had been given a little chance to make some input, this country would have gone places by now. Certainly, we wouldn’t have known what we call recession today. And because she said all these, the mountain came tumbling down. As if she had thrown the forbidden dynamite.
But a close look at her outpouring of concern does not give me the impression that she had crossed the forbidden line or that she had technically slipped into the zone that borders on the abominable. Reactions to her interview varied from exhilaration to bemusement. And that possibly sent the husband, our President, wondering. And when he was asked by some reporters in Germany about what his wife said, his reply, laced in some dry humour, was said to be politically incorrect. He said he did not know what political party madam belonged to. Really? But he knew her party. Her party is the husband’s party. Her vision is the husband’s vision and, all things considered, her concern is the overall success of the husband who by the grace is the President.
As his wife of 27 years, who has been very supportive, faithful and caring, naturally she has the monopoly of the kitchen, the bedroom and any other room in their matrimonial home. Naturally! And if the president himself said so, that was not enough to pull down the mountain. But it nearly did, thanks to the obtrusive nosiness of political do-gooders.
Don’t blame Buhari’s German host, Chancellor Angela Merkel, the German leader, this woman of substance, who in my view, has the stamina of sturdy men; the capacity for hard work, the intellect, vision, not to mention charisma. Don’t blame her for not appreciating the sunny side of African humour full of warmth and vitality. She must have thought, like other women activists and feminists in the audience, that President Buhari had put down his wife, especially and African women in general. They did not realise that it is the pride of the African women, despite their push for gender equality and all that, to take care of their men, provide them succour and the necessary balm after a hard day’s work. Many of the African women in top positions still say with pride that they cook for their husbands and still find time to take care of the home.
And when their men appear to be going off track, it’s part of their duty to worry and to call them back to line, gently and affectionately in a manner only their feminine sense and sensibility could do with good results. Their role at home does not take anything from other worthy contributions they are making in the society as care givers, doctors, aviators and educators and even ministers. Nothing takes the fact away: theirs are truly the hands that rock the cradle.
The Germans would be delighted to learn soon enough that the homily which the wife of the President delivered through the BBC was not lost on the President. Despite the African macho spirit, President Buhari, I wish to believe, would soon realign forces and reflect on strategies and explore more options to reenergise his administration and disappoint his critics who may think that listening to his wife’s advice and words of caution would be a sign of weakness. In fact, if anything it is a sign that our President is a listening president. Not to do so, would be to suffer fools gladly and tolerate sycophancy.
The amazons arrived long ago and there is no stopping them. Recall that when Bill Clinton was campaigning for the presidency of the United States of America, he acknowledged the enormous contributions of his wife, Hilary. Bill proudly told the Americans that by voting for him they would be having two for the price of one. Meaning that his wife was going to be a major influence in the administration. And she made a positive contribution that eventually earned her a Senate seat. And, barring any unforeseen circumstances, that same Hilary is on her way to the White House as the next American president.
The little palava in the villa has provided some comic diversion from the serious business at hand. Lets get back to work to get the country out of recession: Let the war on corruption move into higher gear and lets stamp it out, especially the pernicious trait that is threatening to destroy the judiciary. And the Chibok girls. There is still a lot to be done to free the rest of them and all the others still in the Boko Haram captivity. Let’s put madam’s storm behind us and move on.