APC presidential candidate Buhari under severe attack over plans to scrap Office of the First Lady

The All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate in the February 14th presidential elections, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (rtd), has come under severe attack following his decision to scrap the Office of the First Lady if elected president.

A Canada-based gender rights activist, Chioma Ikejiani, who is leading the protests, called on Nigerian women to rise against former the military Head of State, arguing that if he succeeds, the action would put an end to the development of women through his resolve to make the Office of the First Lady extinct.

Buhari had in a campaign talk, said he would abrogate the first lady’s office if he gets the nod to become Nigeria’s leader.

Speaking with journalists yesterday in Abuja, Ikejiani, who also publishes a gender-based international magazine, AMOI, said Buhari’s stand was against the development of the Nigerian women who have received appreciable attention under the current dispensation.

She explained that what Buhari intends to achieve with his position on women, was to return the Nigerian woman to a situation likeable to what the Taliban did to women in Afghanistan.

According to Ikejiani, Nigerian women have sacrificed so much to get to where they are today and should rather ask for greater representation in their governance rather than being cut short by a sexist who has vowed not to carry them along.

She noted that with the 35 per cent affirmative action, Nigerian women had received positive acclaim and also occupied positions of trust with the office of first lady being a rallying point for their concern and welfare.

Ikejiani, who is in Abuja to promote her forthcoming magazine, which is dedicated to gender empowerment in Nigeria, argued that Buhari’s antecedents as a military dictator whose first outing as head of state did not recognise women, makes it more imperative for women to rise against him just to protect their interest.
“You know, as military head of state, he did not consider women to be of any value in the governance project. It took his successor, General Ibrahim Babangida, to recognise the important role women play in governance and development.

“Therefore, his promise to do away with the office of first lady, is a promise that should worry our women. They should rise and make sure that promise dies and not come to pass, because if it does, our women will be returned to the dark age where they are seen as better off in the kitchen.

“In the last 16 years of the practice of democracy, Nigerian women have risen to even become Chief Justice of Nigeria. At the moment, a woman is the President of the Court of Appeal. Women also head several sensitive government agencies and concerns. That is a success story for the Nigerian woman. It is a story that will challenge the girl child to aspire to greater things. I am certain that story would have been different had women not been galvanized for empowerment through office of first lady.

“It is therefore imperative that Nigerian women rise up for their rights, demand an apology from Buhari and refuse to be subjugated to the kitchen which his promise implies,” she maintained. Ikejiani also urged Nigerian women to speak out loud using their voting power.

Credit: Paul Obi/ThisDay