Be­ing shy around women

Daily Trust - - SPORT REPORT -

Iwas per­son­ally puz­zled when the Pres­i­dency came out with guns blaz­ing on Fri­day in or­der to re­fute a state­ment made a day ear­lier by Mr. Gideon Za­mani, who was said to have rep­re­sented Sec­re­tary to the Gov­ern­ment of the Fed­er­a­tion Babachir David Lawal at an event in Abuja. As of­ten hap­pens when top of­fi­cials rush to “re­fute” some­thing, I had not read what Za­mani said be­fore I saw pres­i­den­tial ad­viser Femi Adesina an­grily re­fut­ing it. I then had to go look­ing for what Za­mani said in or­der to see what was be­ing re­futed.

Za­mani, a former speaker of the Kaduna State House of As­sem­bly, is an ex­pe­ri­enced politi­cian who knows that one can warm his way into the favours of pow­er­ful rulers by de­fend­ing them in pub­lic against an ac­cu­sa­tion. At the event in ques­tion, the fifth an­nual lecture or­gan­ised by the Change We Need in Nige­ria group, Sen­a­tor Chris Anyanwu was said to have ex­pressed dis­ap­point­ment with the ap­point­ments made so far by Pres­i­dent Buhari. She said de­spite the fact that he ben­e­fit­ted im­mensely from fe­male vot­ers, Buhari has rel­e­gated women to the back­ground in his ap­point­ments.

Mrs. Anyanwu added that so far, no woman from the South East has been ap­pointed to any po­lit­i­cal post un­der Buhari, and that “even the num­ber of women in Buhari’s gov­ern­ment is a far cry from what ob­tains world­wide.” Many a cyn­i­cal ob­server would have taken note of Anyanwu’s com­plaint that South East women have not bagged any ap­point­ments un­der Buhari and seen it as clever self pro­mo­tion, but never mind.

Now, if you are Za­mani, who was said to have rep­re­sented the SGF at the event, you will feel the need to rise up to de­fend the boss of your boss from Anyanwu’s at­tack. He groped around for some­thing mean­ing­ful to say. So he said, “If you are close to Mr. Pres­i­dent, you will know that he has the in­ter­est of the na­tion as his up­per­most pri­or­ity. He did not in­ten­tion­ally marginalise women. It is just that Mr. Pres­i­dent is shy with women. He has been in­ter­act­ing mostly with men. I can as­sure you that in the short­est time, this is­sue of gen­der in­equal­ity will be dealt with.” The fol­low­ing day, news­pa­per re­ports of the event lurched upon Za­mani’s ex­pla­na­tion as the gospel truth, with one pa­per say­ing, “Some insight has been pro­vided into Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari’s aver­sion for women and the low num­ber of fe­male ap­point­ments since he as­sumed of­fice...”

It must be this kind of re­port­ing that in­cited the pres­i­dency, which soon came out with guns blaz­ing. Adesina’s an­gry state­ment said, “The claim that Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari is shy around women, pur­port­edly made by one Gideon Sa­mani yes­ter­day and pub­lished by a na­tional news­pa­per to­day is to­tally fal­la­cious. The sub­se­quent at­tri­bu­tion of the sup­pos­edly “low num­ber” of fe­male min­is­te­rial nom­i­nees to Pres­i­dent Buhari’s al­leged shy­ness around women is there­fore base­less and a fig­ment of the imag­i­na­tion of the said Mr. Sa­mani, who was falsely de­scribed as the ‘Se­nior Spe­cial As­sis­tant (Po­lit­i­cal Mat­ters)’ to the Pres­i­dent.”

Phew. There are three things all rolled up to­gether in this para­graph, and I was won­der­ing which one of them it was that made Adesina and the pres­i­dent so an­gry. Be­gin­ning from the bot­tom, one is that Za­mani is not the Se­nior Spe­cial As­sis­tant to the Pres­i­dent on Po­lit­i­cal Mat­ters, which was how the news­pa­pers that re­ported his com­ment de­scribed him. Whether he was so de­scribed at the event it­self and whether he failed to make a cor­rec­tion, we do not know yet. He must how­ever be close enough to the SGF, of­fi­cially or un­of­fi­cially, to be sent to rep­re­sent him at an event. Chances are that af­ter this fi­asco, SGF will drop him like a hot iron.

Now, the sec­ond is­sue raised by Adesina in that loaded para­graph is the is­sue of low num­ber of fe­male ap­pointees in Buhari’s coun­cils. Adesina wrote “low num­ber” in quotes, mean­ing the pres­i­dency does not agree that it has ap­pointed a low num­ber of women to ma­jor posts in gov­ern­ment. Okay, that is a mat­ter for Aso Rock to sort out with women’s groups. There are six women among the 36 min­is­te­rial nom­i­nees, or 17%. The pro­por­tion was higher than that in the Jonathan regime whose two most pow­er­ful min­is­ters were women.

Of the three first-line charges made by Adesina, it ap­pears that the one that an­gered the pres­i­dency the most was the one about Pres­i­dent Buhari be­ing shy in the com­pany of women. This be­came clearer in the state­ment’s third para­graph where Adesina said, “The as­ser­tion by the al­leged pres­i­den­tial aide that Pres­i­dent Buhari is “very shy deal­ing with the op­po­site sex” be­cause “he has been in­ter­act­ing mostly with men” was re­ceived by the Pres­i­dent with shock and con­ster­na­tion.”

Shock and con­ster­na­tion, and that is Buhari him­self speak­ing. Adesina could not have known that the pres­i­dent re­ceived the charge with shock and con­ster­na­tion un­less the pres­i­dent him­self told him so. So, what is shock­ing about that? All men, ex­cept the most out­go­ing ones, are to var­i­ous de­grees shy in the pres­ence of women. For some men the pres­ence of a large num­ber of women at a place is an op­por­tu­nity to show off, to speak and to do some vis­i­ble acts in the hope that some of them will be im­pressed, as a step­ping stone to higher things. Most other men how­ever think the pres­ence of women around calls for calm, cau­tion, sit­ting prop­erly, ad­just­ing clothes, speak­ing in low tones, eat­ing in small bites, drink­ing silently, belch­ing softly and gen­er­ally try­ing to be­have well. It is there­fore not a bad thing, I think, to be ac­cused of be­ing shy in women’s pres­ence.

Even though we were told last May that Muham­madu Buhari no longer wishes to be re­ferred to as Gen­eral, we can­not for­get too quickly that he was a soldier for 24 years. Maybe that is one ex­pla­na­tion for his shock and con­ster­na­tion. By all ac­counts the pres­i­dent stayed close to his reli­gious and cul­tural val­ues dur­ing his years in the army but then, no one could have been an Army of­fi­cer for 24 years with­out en­ter­ing an Of­fi­cers’ Mess. I do not know why sol­diers call it a mess. Is it be­cause that is where of­fi­cers mess up ev­ery evening? I have been to a few events at of­fi­cers’ messes over the years and I can tes­tify that shy­ness in the pres­ence of women is not one of their cel­e­brated at­tributes.

A sub­se­quent para­graph in Femi Adesina’s state­ment ad­vanced some rea­sons to prove why Pres­i­dent Buhari can­not be shy in women’s pres­ence. He said, “Pres­i­dent Buhari has a wife, many daugh­ters and fe­male rel­a­tives whom he loves dearly. He also had a mother that he adored. How then could he be shy in the com­pany of women, to the point of al­legedly not ap­point­ing them into pub­lic of­fices, on ac­count of not be­ing com­fort­able in their com­pany?”

Let us sep­a­rate two things here. Ev­ery man has a mother; many men have sis­ters; a lot of adult men have wives; and a lot of men have daugh­ters as well. All that how­ever does not stop ma­jor­ity of men from be­ing shy or at least self ef­fac­ing when they find them­selves in the com­pany of other women. This is be­cause each of th­ese cat­e­gories of women is in a class of its own, from a man’s point of view. Even among one’s sis­ters, deal­ing with elder sis­ters re­quires a dif­fer­ent ap­proach from deal­ing with younger sis­ters.

It is on the sec­ond part of the state­ment that I tend to agree with Femi Adesina. If Buhari has not ap­pointed many more women into his coun­cils, it can­not be be­cause he will be too shy to pre­side over the Fed­eral Ex­ec­u­tive Coun­cil with stylish head­gears all around. Women are dis­ad­van­taged in nearly ev­ery facet of Nige­rian pub­lic life, es­pe­cially in pol­i­tics. If for ex­am­ple Buhari had asked each state APC chap­ter to nom­i­nate one per­son for min­is­ter, prob­a­bly all 36 of them would have nom­i­nated men. And it would not be be­cause ev­ery APC gover­nor and state chair­man is shy in the pres­ence of women. England will have to smash the world record for a suc­cess­ful run chase if they are to avoid de­feat in the sec­ond test against Pak­istan in Dubai.

You­nis Khan made 118 in the sec­ond in­nings as Pak­istan reached 354-6 be­fore declar­ing.

Mis­bah-ul-Haq made 87 and Asad Shafiq 79 in the sec­ond in­nings as the home side bat­ted England out of the match.

The world record for a suc­cess­ful fourth in­nings run chase is 418; re­al­is­ti­cally, the chal­lenge await­ing England is to bat for a day and a half to avoid los­ing the match.

You­nis Khan

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Nigeria

© PressReader. All rights reserved.