The Serving Overseer of the Latter Rain Assembly, Pastor Tunde Bakare, has criticised President Muhammadu Buhari’s treatment of women.
Bakare, who was Buhari’s running mate during the 2011 presidential election, said the President’s claim that his wife, Aisha, was only fit for his living room, kitchen and the ‘other room’, was an insult to all mothers and daughters in Nigeria and should be treated as such.
The pastor said this in Abuja on Saturday at the 2nd Annual Chibok Girls lecture organised by the Bring Back Our Girls group in commemoration of the fourth anniversary of the abduction of over 215 schoolgirls from the Government Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State, on April 14, 2014.
Speaking on the theme, ‘Towards a just and good society: Renewing our commitment to the girl child in Nigeria’, the keynote speaker said the mindset of a leader could either improve or stall the quest for gender equality.
He said, “There are structural causal factors, institutional causal factors, constitutional causal factors and leadership causal factors because whatever makes a man look at his wife and say she is only good for the kitchen, the living room and the other room shows you what goes on in the mind of a leader.
“Our President was standing next to the most powerful woman in the world and reduced the African woman to just the kitchen and the bedroom. I stand here to say that women are not objects to be used but persons to be respected.
“If that was meant to be a joke by the President, then, that is just an expensive joke that is uncalled for on an international scene. It was unnecessary and even an embarrassment to even the mothers that bore us and the daughters that we are raising.
“Their place is not just in the bedroom or kitchen; their place is also in the parliament and one day, who knows, the day will come that even the Villa will be occupied by a woman in this country.”
Bakare said the fact that Boko Haram had continued to target females, especially schoolgirls, was a reflection of how women were being treated in the larger society.
The cleric said it was this same mentality that had caused many state assemblies, especially in the North, to refuse to pass the Child Rights Act, which seeks to curb child marriage among girls.
Bakare added, “The institutionalisation of oppression takes oppressive practices from the realm of custom to the realm of public policy until oppression is accepted as a way of life. It is clear that the oppression of the girl child has become institutionalised in Nigeria.
“This is why a significant number of state legislatures, especially in the North, have not ratified the Child Rights Act since its passage into law in 2003.”
Bakare said it was unfortunate that only 6.7 per cent of persons occupying political office were women as only eight out of 109 seats in the Senate and 19 out of 360 seats in the House of Representatives were occupied by women.
The cleric hailed BBOG for its perseverance in the last four years despite criticisms from naysayers.
Also speaking, the Deputy British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Harriet Thompson, said there was a need for women to be more involved in politics ahead of the 2019 general elections.
Thompson said increased women participation in politics could help solve many social maladies.
In her remarks, the chairperson of the event and first female northern senator, Najatu Bala-Mohammed, said the military was also complicit in the murder of innocent persons in the North-East.
Bala-Mohammed, who was the first female Student Union President at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, said the military had turned the war against terror into a conduit to divert funds.
She said, “The military came in and has cashed in and turned the North-East into a cash cow. Military budgets are unaccounted for. Remember, (former President Goodluck) Jonathan was spending N2bn every day but there was no security; thousands of our people were slaughtered.
“And we also know that the army, more than anything in Borno and Yobe, has contributed to the so-called terrorism; it has become a multi-billion dollar industry. I have been part of a committee that investigated Boko Haram and that committee indicted the military.
“There is no house in Borno where the military has not killed, raped or plundered. There have been committees after committees, set up by the government to investigate, but the government has failed to bring these people to book.”
She said although past chiefs of air staff and navy staff had been arraigned in court, the same treatment was not given to the army.
Bala-Mohammed added, “In fact, this current leadership of the military is an extension of that one and this government has failed to even acknowledge this report and the investigations.
“The reports of the investigations into the activities of the air force and the navy had been made public; but that of the army has been swept under the carpet by this government because they are not only sustaining it, but also retaining the culprits. They are in various capacities in this government that is supposed to be fighting corruption more than any other government.”
The Co-Convener of the BBOG, Mrs. Oby Ezekwesili, called on the government to ensure that the last Dapchi girl in captivity, Leah Sharibu, was rescued.
Ezekwesili, who is a former Minister of Education, said, “If Leah Sharibu doesn’t come back within the time that the government promised, then, we would have to go to court.”
But the Defence Headquarters said it was improper for politicians to play politics with security and the anti-insurgency war in the North-East.
The Director, Defence Information, Brig. Gen. John Agim, was responding to the statement by Bala-Mohammed at the Chibok girls’ event on Saturday.
The defence spokesman stated, “Our politicians should stop playing politics with security. The fight against insurgency is not a game. We have military men on the ground, who have families too and such statements don’t encourage efforts.
“What can you give to someone who has died in warfare? How much are military men getting as allowances in this war? What do they mean as Boko Haram war is a cash cow?”