Patience Jonathan: The Executive Activist On Many Fronts!
BY OMOBA KENNETH AIGBEGBELE
This personage needs no introduction. She is no other person than the
woman of courage, the woman whose love for the downtrodden, the less
privileged and the have-nots, knows no bounds. The woman, who is
passionate about women emancipation and empowerment; the activist in the
issue of the girl-child and children in general, and the advocate of
peaceful co-existence and the total well-being of Africans!
She is no other person than Dame Patience Jonathan, Nigeria's First Lady,
the woman called Mama Peace, the Odamiba 1 of Otueke.
But what really challenges the passion of this activist is her pet project
and the honour bestowed on her as the International Telecommunications
Union's, ITU-Child online Protection Champion, where she dissipates her
energies, campaigning for the girl-child, children with heart related
issues, women empowerment and the online threats against children and
She hosted the First National Youth online Protection Summit, in Nigeria,
which was a successful and graced by GOOGLE, NITDA, YAHOO, and other
Internet private providers and organizations with youths that came from
all spheres of life in Nigeria. They came together to interact, network
and build synergies on cybercrime and protection against Internet bullies.
Similarly, with the partnership of New Horizon, she convened a Cyber
Security Summit in Nigeria, a major platform that brought major
stakeholders in a convivial environment to chart a way forward towards the
protection of the various publics against cyber threats.
The august event was chaired by Mr. Ehud Barak, former Israeli, Prime
Minster, who, with other panelists drove home the challenges, issues and
dangers posed by cyber threats/crime and called for all hands to be on
deck. The summit re-awakened all Internet users to the dangers posed by
the increasing love for the cyberspace.
The emancipation of women has led this ebullient lady to crave and fight
for the 35 per cent Affirmative Action Principle, which has raised the
stakes for women in appointed and elective positions in the country and
has broken the ceiling of the dominance of the men-folks in politics in
Just within this year, the amiable woman activist had been around the
entire country from North to South, East to West canvassing for the
inclusion of women into political reckoning and on these various platforms
she also empowered widows, destitute and other vulnerable women, thereby
sustaining their well-being and making them productive at home through
skills acquisition given at such events.
To date, a lot of funds have been expended for the purchase of equipment,
buses, tractors, fertilizers, generating sets, bags of rice, garri,
grinding machines, sewing machines and a host of other durable and
perishable goods which were handed over to the women at these functions
with the assistance and collaboration of well meaning Nigerians.
While she had partnered a lot of non-governmental organizations, NGOs,
which among others include the National Association for the Control of
AIDS (NACA), which has reduced the number of HIV/AIDS positive pregnant
women. The partnership has led to an increase in the number of individuals
who are receiving HIV testing and counseling in the country, as well as
collaborating with the Primary Health Care Development Agency for
effective services delivery. One of such is the Midwives Service Scheme
(MSS), which has also reduced child mortality by 60 per cent in 2015.
Through her continued partnership, advocacy and sustained approach, to
date, more than 2,600 midwives have been deployed to over 650 rural health
centres across Nigeria. About 650,000 safe delivery kits (MAMA KITS) have
been distributed to new mothers across different states, while about 2,500
midwives have been trained in life-saving skills and over 600 rural
centres across the country now have communication links to the national
operations centre, which is in line with her strategic plan to operate,
manage and eliminate any health scourge as President, African First Ladies
The collaboration with the MDG office was very successful collaboration,
as both recently launched the Village Health Workers Scheme during the
year to which kits were distributed about 1,480 to newly employed village
health workers. While the village to village initiative is a milestone
that needs to be mentioned as access to free medical information is made
available through SMS. For according to the energetic woman of courage, we
can proudly say majority of our rural women and children are now the
greatest beneficiaries of this laudable scheme while her partnership with
the lady Mechanic Initiative have paid off significantly with the
employment of about 5,000 who are gainfully employed and are undergoing
While as part of the plans to empower the women by extension the family,
the NGO is constantly training women in skills acquisition, like sewing,
bead making, make-ups,and training in soap, perfume and furniture
Close to her heart, because of involvement with children, is the First
Lady's NGO, A. Aruera Reach-out Foundation (AARF), which had entered into
strategic alliance with international experts on reducing the risks
involved in transportation, accommodation and treatment of children with
heart related diseases and challenges.
So far over 4,000 children have benefitted from this initiative of the NGO
and more are still in the offing, for according to the First Lady, she
cannot but continue to do this very work of humanity because it has become
part and parcel of her life style and passion.
Her role on Chibok Girls saga at the meeting conveyed by her on February
14 and 15, 2014, led to the unveiling of information previously not in the
public domain, broadening the matter for the good of the nation.
The good she intended turned unsavoury as the meeting progressed, and
according to my good friend, Kenneth Ugbechie, who wrote philosophically,
that we may not approve of her mastery of the Queen's English, just like
majority of Africans, saying, “you don't need to speak good English to be
a good leader.”
But we cannot lose sight of Dame Jonathan's sense of bravery, courage and
empathy for both the poor, women and children. Above all, she has stood by
her husband in good times and in bad times like an Iroko tree, driving
home the message that, 'this is the stuff wives of strong characters are
Dame Patience Jonathan will remain that composite Nigerian woman -
mobilizer, politician, mother – that compassionately encapsulates our rich
cultural and African family values!
Mr. Aigbegbele is the media adviser to the First Lady.
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