Aisha Buhari’s push for female VP may raise dust

By Obah Sylva (Abuja) and Gabriel Omonhinmin (Lagos)

President Muhamadu Buhari’s wife, Hajia Aisha, is apparently not on the same page with him over her insistence on a female Vice President emerging from the 2023 general elections The Trumpet gathered.

The First Lady is urging political parties and aspirants to consider having women as running mates for candidates at all levels in the elections as part of her drive for the emancipation of women in politics.

However, President Buhari will most likely go along with his 2party’s eventual plan for a running mate to its standard bearer for the presidential poll. No strong or even serious female presidential aspirant has indicated interest in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) that could eventually be considered as a running mate to its presidential candidate

Also, her demand for a female vice president might not sit well with northern Nigeria’s conservatively orthodox Islamic establishment whose interpretation of the religion limits women’s participation in politics and leadership.

Like her husband, Aisha Buhari has not openly backed any of the APC’s presidential aspirants for any indication of which camp or campaign a running mate will emerge from.

But Aisha has maintained that it was “high time women were adopted as running mates at all levels considering their voting strength and active involvement in political processes.”

Aisha made this call while playing host to presidential aspirants from various political parties at a Ramadan (Iftar) breakfast at the State House, Abuja.

“As we approach the 2023 election with greater hope, I am confident that Nigeria will continue to grow from strength to strength on the pedestal of our democratic tenets,” she said.

“As we approach the 2023 election with greater hope, I am confident that Nigeria will continue to grow from strength to strength on the pedestal of our democratic tenets,” she added.

APC national leader, Bola Tinubu, Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi, Minister of Labour Employment, Chris Ngige, and Governor Bala Muhammed were among the presidential aspirants who honoured the invitation of the First Lady.

Buhari also seemingly has a different view of women’s participation in politics.

He had in Germany responded to a BBC interview where his wife also seemingly questioned his leadership ability and claims that her husband does not know 45 out of 50 persons appointed in his government.

The President sarcastically responded: “I don’t know which party my wife belongs to, but she belongs to my kitchen and my living room and the other room.”

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Buhari’s comment went viral on the internet and made big headlines in almost all the major newspapers in the country.

The President’s body language has constantly pointed in the direction of conservatism in terms of women’s participation in politics. From the outset, he refused to recognise the office of the First Lady. He rather prefers to call it “Office of the wife of the President.”

His stance on women holding vital public offices frustrated Aisha who wanted a functional office as First Lady. Probably her inability to cope forced her to relocate to Dubai, where she flew from to meet with the presidential aspirants.

Meanwhile, an Abujabased Islamic scholar and cleric, Ustadh Abu Jabir Abdullah Musa Abdul (Penabdul), has said that the Holy Qu’ran especially the Hadith forbids women from aspiring to positions like the office of the Vice-president (VP) of a country, where they would hold ‘General or Absolute’ powers.

According to him, “positions like the office of the V.P. will place such women in a position where they can order the deployment of troops and other members of the country’s Armed Forces. This type of power which is ‘general or absolute power’ Islam forbids and frowns at.

“The caveat, however, is that women in Islam, can aspire to the pinnacle of their various professions in life as professionals. The positions they could aspire to could be State Governors, Ministers, Director of industries, Directors of Ministries, Directors of Government Parastatals, agencies and banks. Women could also be chief executives of Industries, banks and other commercial ventures.

“There is no dispute among the scholars that one of the conditions of the Imam or leader is that he should be male. Ibn Hazam reported in his book Maratib al-Ijma’ that there was scholarly consensus on this point. In the section he says: “Out of all groups of the people of the Qiblah [i.e., all Muslim sects], there is not one that allows the leadership of women.”

The evidence for this is the general meaning of the ayah: “Men are the protectors and maintainers of women because Allah has made one of them to excel more than the other.” (al-Nisa 4:34].

“It is also clearly indicated by the hadith of Abu Bakrah who said that when the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) heard that the Persians had appointed the daughter of Chosroes as their queen, he said, ‘No people who appoint a woman as their leader will ever prosper.” (Reported by al-Bukhari, 13/53).

Another Islamic cleric, Alhaji Tajudeen Adigun, disagrees with this position, saying the Holy Qu’ran is expressly clear about positions. Allah, he maintained, is the one that gives power to whosoever he pleases and as such if a woman gets any position, it was only possible because God allowed it.

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