OPINION RE: THE POLITICAL WIFE AS DISASTER
After going through the column of Festus Eriye, of The Nation Newspapers, dated Sunday, May 11, 2014, I do not need to be told that he was only doing his master's bidding. While everyone across the globe has hailed the First Lady's motherly intervention and the melodrama, including bringing to the fore new insights into the Chibok saga, all Eriye tried doing in his column was to run down a selfless woman, mother and the First Lady, of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, who has used her life fighting for the common good of all. It goes to show that prophets are not really honoured in their lands, and the ostensible fact that the master's inducement has beclouded the good judgment of people like Festus Eriye.
Dame Patience Jonathan has bestridden the landscape as a colossus, an executive activist and a woman whose unparalleled passion for the less privileged, including the vulnerable women and children knows no bounds. It was on these accounts, she had been given several laurels, not solicited for, both at home, and across the globe, amongst, which are the ITU Child Online Protection Champion. She was also elected for two consecutive times as President of African First Ladies Peace Mission and since she assumed office, you will agree with the rest of the world she had re-defined the office, and made it more proactive. Other honours and awards are just too numerous to mention. She has not only become a good house-wife, a respectable family woman, but a dependable better half of Mr. President and an ally of Nigerian women, who just like every other woman, will do everything in her power to assist and protect the husband in the delivery of democratic dividends.
Her positive contributions to Africa, particularly Nigeria, supersede every other shortfall Eriye must have mentioned, not to forget that we are all mere mortals. In as much as we all have one or two shortfalls, Dame Jonathan's positive strides and contributions to the political development of Nigeria and Africa, will always be written in gold for her motherly dispositions, affectionate heart for the downtrodden; she is obviously a woman who has given her all to humanity.
You may not be aware that her NGOs, Women for Change and Development Initiative and A.Aruara Reachout Foundation have been in the forefront of educating, sensitizing and empowering children, especially girls, to live a healthier life and acquiring various skills for self-sustenance. She even sponsored some children to India for heart surgeries and other vulnerable women with ailments for treatments abroad.
As the President of African First Ladies Peace Mission, she had on several occasions advocated peace in Africa in several fora; involved in dialogue and peace settlements in the continent and consistently distributed relief materials to war torn countries across Africa, South Sudan, Saharawi Arab Republic, Guinea Bissau, among others, which has earned her global recognition as 'Mama Peace' for her unrelenting pursuit for peace and harmonious co-existence.
As the On-line Protection Champion, bestowed on her by world acclaim International Telecommunications Union (ITU), she has campaigned across the globe on the essence of protecting children from cyber threats. She organized the First National Youths Online Campaign in Nigeria and also championed a Cyber Crime Seminar also in Nigeria, where the former Prime Minister of Israel, Mr. Ehud Barak, chaired.
Dame Jonathan is not only a proactive, loving better half of her husband, but an asset to the country, who has brought goodwill and enhanced the name of Nigeria, including the present administration of Mr. President and Africa at large.
As a loving mother, who is passionate about children, after the Boko Haram abduction, she convened a meeting of women stakeholders when she knew that the focal persons directly affected with the abductions will have audience with Mr. President and due to the call by various women bodies across the country. As the First Lady, the proper thing to do is to involve the parties to explain to other stakeholders what really transpired and it was after the meeting that lasted from May 2 to 4, 2014, that a lot of questions, facts and figures previously unknown came out to the public domain for discourse.
It is the opinion of well-meaning Nigerians that we owe her a lot of credit for having convened that meeting when at the time information leading to the abduction was very sketchy, and not vilifying or castigating her. It was the meeting that brought the real facts you are talking or reading about in the mass media platforms now.
It was also during the meeting that distortion of figures, facts and the narration of the ordeal by the focal persons made the First Lady teary. She naturally felt that the truth of the issue all along was hidden from public knowledge and she wept for the country of her dreams, just like what every genuine or concerned mother will do on hearing the gory tales of this abduction and the emotions attached to the issue of the girls. Sheer naturalness or sincerity or real motherliness was spontaneously unleashed. She gave way to tears â€' untainted emotionalism in action!
Dame Patience Jonathan is not just a Nigerian brand, but an African political juggernaut who had redefined the office of the First Lady and had brought glory to the country and women in many fronts. She has become the rallying point for women in Africa, and whether you like it or not, she is one of the most positively sensitive and most intelligent women we have around.
She has every right as a mother, a woman and a passionate believer of 'build a woman; develop a nation'' instinct, to do anything to make sure Nigerian women live in peace and harmony. So she has a right and had no other alternative at that most expedient moment as a concerned mother to convene a meeting of stakeholders of Chibok misfortune, and unequivocally, she was the greatest stakeholder. The facts in public domain today are due to her painstaking efforts and genuine initiative for convening that meeting. This sole effort of hers has added another feather to her numerous achievements for having done something outside the box, which Nigerian women are proud of.
Today, notable world leaders and First Ladies around the world are joining in her clarion call for the return of our girls with the hash-tag 'Bring Back Our Girls,' all to her credit. This has also added credibility to the search for Chibok girls, including enhancing the interest and image of government in the issues at stake, which further lends credence also to the assistance on the saga from international community.
Eriye's spurious and malicious intentions were driven to another level, when he opined that the focal persons were summoned and that the First Lady said that the girls were not missing. Where on earth did Eriye get his facts from? Can he 'cry more than the bereaved?' The First Lady invited the persons, knowing full well they were in State House, Abuja, to meet with Mr. President and she used the opportunity to meet with them. As for the abducted girls, there was no place or anywhere the First Lady said the girls were not missing? There is no iota of truth in that assertion, but a figment of the writer's imagination. The First Lady only acknowledged misgivings about the true figures and the distortions in the story told by the stakeholders. And it was on that note she said if the truth is not told, she will personally lead a protest to the National Assembly, Borno Government and the President to ascertain the authenticity of the abduction.
Though according to Eriye, her office is not recognized, she had over the past few years redefined the office, and now shines like a star beyond the office, and has brought goodwill to the office, including a lot of credibility from far and wide to the Nigeria nation. She had never meddled in politics in any state of Nigeria or positioned anybody into any political office. But mischievous politicians have over the years used her goodwill and name to score cheap political points against their opponents. She is not a political wife, whatever the allegory misinformation. She is a mother figure who will always accept audience from any political affiliation in the country as she had done in the past years and will always give advice when the need arises!
As 2015 approaches, people like Festus Eriye and political gladiators should tread with caution, not to overheat the polity unnecessarily by their venom, greed and self-serving inordinate ambitions because this country is more important than any of their interests whether personal or otherwise put together.
Written By Omoba Kenneth Aigbegbele