SpringAid International Development (SAID) has since its inception in 2008 been promoting gender equality in the communities we serve and fighting to eradicate gender based violence in homes and public spaces. Before I proceed with the issue I wish to share with you in this reflection, I would like to make this observation. The main reason a person like Mohammad Buhari could be elected president of Nigeria is simply because elections are still seen by many Nigerians as an honour exercise. This means a time to reward people not because they are competent to occupy the position but because they are seen to deserve an award from their people and followers.

As days go by, many of us are watching and waiting to hear and see improvements in leadership and governance in Nigeria. We look for a responsive and purposeful government. We are hoping against hope that a kind of political Messiah will come to raise Nigeria to its potential. Sometimes we become apprehensive and troubled, watching and waiting for news and signals that things will be well with Nigeria. As we watch by the day, we cannot escape a sense of unease and disquiet, things we dare not sometimes articulate, as the events that happen day by day open our eyes that something is really wrong in Nigeria.

Every Nigerian is a ‘watchman’ for the house of Nigeria. It is night and dark and the atmosphere seems ominous, full of incipient festering secrets and demonic agendas. For unspecified reasons, the thinking, comments and actions of Nigerian rulers be they traditional, religious, political and economic Lords manifests ‘a home sick at heart’ and is potentially and actually catastrophic to the present and future of the country. How to effect the painful, difficult, but absolutely essential transition from a primitive mindset to a scientific and modern mindset has continued to elude rulers in Nigeria no matter their age and supposed education. Nigeria is also in a perpetual circle of self destruction, it is unable to extricate itself. This, I make bold to say is the crucial issue in our country. The change maker, much wanted, anti- corruption crusader and supported candidate has turned out to be the worst nightmare for many Nigerians and tending to be catastrophically a bad president, subverting and appropriating established procedures as personal property. It is now a nightmare –pure blind, arrogant, proud, brutal barbarity acting as if it were acme of civilized justice. Nothing is going according to the promises made to the Nigerian people during the election campaigns.

Now, I will proceed with the issue that disturbs and dismays us. The news of the comments of President Mohammadu Buhari in response to the things his wife, Aisha revealed about his government in an interview she granted to BBC last Friday. It is something in the mouths of people around the globe, especially Nigerians both home and in the Diaspora. President Muhammadu Buhari replying to reporters said: “I don’t know which party my wife belongs to, but she belongs to my kitchen and my living room and the other room.”

Because of the many intentional lies flying all over the internet, I have trained myself not to believe whatever I read on the social media and many online news platforms except I watch a video where the person in question confirms what is being said about him or her. You know, we can be mistaken in what we see- bent sticks in water. I have also learnt not to accept anything I hear at face value. It is through the ear that language enters the body. Montaigne makes the point that the ears “are the most dangerous instruments we have to receive violent and dangerous impressions to trouble and alter us”. I refused to believe the words Buhari was credited to have used for his wife Aisha until I watched the video where standing side by side with the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, Mr President unashamedly uttered those barbaric, arrogant words against his own wife, while the Chancellor glared and laughed. He was obviously zealous to denigrate his wife. I was shocked to my marrows.

It is not to be doubted that such comments could only come from a ruler in a pseudo-democracy. Nigeria is of course a kleptocracy- that is a country where the rulers use their political power to enrich themselves and plunder the country. The political and economic elites of Nigeria have continued to control the government and the judiciary through corruption and through their hold on the police and the military. Democratic elections in Nigeria have been a commodity to be sold. One common element of false democracies be they kleptocracy, failed democracy or party-less democracy is that even when general elections are fair and valid, there is still a lack of democratic culture. Democratic culture is where the citizens, rich as well as poor, politicians likewise the electorates follow democratic principles. Democracy is a system of sharing power in a society. Democracy must also control the state and not the state controlling democracy. Perhaps, this is the perdition of the Nigerian state. Democracy is far more than elections. True democracy gives the citizens the opportunity and rights to hold elected people and other public servants accountable.

Many of the thinking, comments and actions of our rulers- traditional, religious, politicians, economic and academia shake me to my core, in ways that I never thought could be possible. As I watch how government after government squander the opportunities of a life time for millions of Nigerians. As I observe these, I feel them so personally, and I am sure many of you feel the same. When I watched President Buhari say that his wife, Aisha belongs to his kitchen, living room, bedroom and the other rooms in his house, I must say I felt ashamed being a Nigerian, a country I so much love and have been contributing my best to its development. I could hardly believe that Buhari could say that of his wife of 27 years marriage and the first Lady of Nigeria. What a tragedy for Nigeria to have such a man as the President of the most populous African country on earth.

This shameful comments about his wife, should be understood not just as a disrespect to his wife but to all women all over the word especially Nigeria women. One is left to wonder what was going through the mind of Angela Merkel as she stood beside Mr. President who was anxious to put the wife down in order to feel powerful and satisfy his ego. While it is not out of place to expect Buhari to love his wife, he is certainly expected to show her respect as a human being.

Many of the thinking, comments and actions of our rulers- traditional, politicians, economic and academia shake me to my core, in ways that I never thought could be possible. As I watch how government after government squander the opportunities of a life time millions of Nigerians. As I observe these, I feel them so personally, and I am sure many of you feel the same. President. Words like gender equality are missing in the dictionary of the President. In a country where many women suffer tremendously from gender violence –both emotional and physical in many families, the insensitivity of Mr President towards the plight of girls and women should not be lost to any reasonable mind. His words say a lot about the disgrace, disrespect the wife must have been quietly enduring in their home. His behavior is cruel and arrogant and scornful of the ambitions, aspirations and intellects of Nigeria women. Buhari’s comments portend a security risk for the sustainable development of Nigeria.

Nigerians may run the risk of seeing Buhari’s comments as an isolated case of an individual personal character. Of course this will be misunderstanding the import of President's comments. Unfortunately, you may be stand for a shocker realizing that his comments represent the views of most Northern Nigeria Moslems about girls and women. To some degree, it also represents those of most boys and men in Nigeria – south or north. Many of us shy away from talking and confronting the gender violence going on in most homes in Nigeria. Many girls and women live in silence because very few would believe them and in fact, for many people even for most women, boys and men have rights to correct their wives by beating them. Recently, there are talks of an Emir forcefully abducting girls as young as 12 years, forcefully converting them to Islam and marrying them against their will. Children they should be encouraging to be in school, they are destroying their development and future.

Many of the words and comments that Mr President makes on national issues are revealing of his mindset. And in fact, in all intents and purposes, he is not what Nigeria needs at this time. While I admire his anti-corruption crusade, I fear, he is introducing a far more dangerous kind of corruption into Nigeria by his application of different standards to people deserving of the same treatment in his government. Buhari boasts that he tried to be Nigeria President three times and failed and this fourth time, he has succeeded. His words bespeak of conquest. He, Buhari has conquered Nigeria. It is now effectively his private property to be dealt with however he pleases, because he has superior knowledge over every person in Nigeria. The best we all can do is to shut our mouths. This spells disaster for Nigeria. In the name of Islam, human rights are being destroyed. In the name of religion, evil is being justified. What a shame that this mindset is pervasive of every sector and level of the Nigerian society.

Consider how shamefully Reuben Abati, an opinion builder and the media manager for Goodluck Jonathan's government claims a couple of days back that spiritual powers- witches and wizards in Aso Rock are responsible for the failures of various Nigerian governments to make good their good intentions for Nigeria. If this ‘educated’ opinion leader could ascribe the gross incompetence of many Nigerian leaders and public servants to the actions of evil forces, could be so superstitious, what do you expect of the millions of ‘illiterate’ Nigerians? Buhari’s comments serve as an urgent wake –up call to a revolution in our mindset as Nigerians, if we are to go anywhere as a country. The battle of the mind must be won first and foremost by all who rule Nigeria. Nigerian women should rise to support Aisha and condemn Buhari's comments and all those supporting such views about girls and women. Chikezie Onuoha (SAID)