President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday cautioned his wife to desist from making public statement critical of his government, saying “my wife belongs to my kitchen and living room”.
Mr. Buhari’s response elicited a cursory smile from Angela Merkel, the Vice Chancellor of Germany and his host.
The comments came two days after his wife, Aisha, delivered a strong criticism of her husband’s administration in an interview with the BBC Hausa Service.
In the interview, Mrs. Buhari said the president had abandoned those who worked hard to get him into office, and had allowed his government to be hijacked by a few individuals who now wield sweeping powers.
“He is yet to tell me —if he’ll seek re-election— but I have decided as his wife, that if things continue like this up to 2019, I will not go out and campaign again and ask any woman to vote like I did before,” Mrs. Buhari said.
“I will never do it again.”
The comments sparked response from Nigerians, with the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, saying he had been vindicated on his earlier statement that Mr. Buhari was not in charge of the nation’s affairs.
The president responded to the development during a joint media briefing with Mrs. Merkel in Berlin on Friday, saying his wife should be taking care of his kitchen, living room and the “other room” —meaning his bedroom.
“I don’t know which party my wife belongs to, but she belongs to my kitchen and my living room and the other room,” Mr. Buhari was quoted by the Associated Press as saying.
Mr. Buhari said he had superior wisdom over his wife and other people who oppose his policies, because he had been able to win an election after many years of trying.
“So I claim superior knowledge over her and the rest of the opposition, because in the end I have succeeded,” Mr. Buhari said. “It’s not easy to satisfy the whole Nigerian opposition parties or to participate in the government.”
The remarks earned Mr. Buhari immediate backlash from Nigerians on social media.
Kayode Ogundami, a social commentator and activist, said the president’s views were not compatible with modern ideals.
“The president should know that his distorted thinking that Nigerian women or any woman for that matter belong in the bedroom or kitchen is unacceptable,” Mr. Ogundamisi said in a statement.
“And if the president finds it funny, it is not the kind of joke that the President of any country should be engage in.
“The president should know that the world has indeed moved on and that.
“Women play a very key role in our society.”
Mr. Ogundamisi demanded an immediate apology from Mr. Buhari for his comments, which he said constituted an embarrassment to Nigeria.
“The president should apologise to Nigerians especially as his statement was made during an international engagement standing next to the German Chancellor Angela Markel. The Presidents view on women and wife belongs to the cave era and not the modern world. As a supporter I find it embarrassing that the best reply the Nigerian President can give to criticism by his wife is to respond in such a sexist and misogynist fashion,” he said.