Patience Jonathan: The Executive Activist On Many Fronts!


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

youths globally.
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

the country.
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

Peace Mission.
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

apprenticeship currently.
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

made of.'
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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