Patience Jonathan to host African First Ladies Summit May 15
Wife of the president, Dame Patience Jonathan, has pointed out why she will to host the 8th African First Ladies Peace Mission Summit (AFLPM) two weeks before her husband leaves office, saying that it was not meant to prevent the wife of president-elect, Mrs Aisha Buhari, from occupying the leadership of the organisation as being speculated in some quarters.
In a statement issued by her office in Abuja, on Tuesday, she decried reports that the hosting of the summit on May 15 was a grand design by her to either 'rig out' or 'deny' Mrs Buhari 'the opportunity to assume the presidency and host the said summit in the absence of the incumbent.'
The statement said it had become imperative to make clarification because of the 'barrage of uncharitable fallacies' it said mischief makers have poured on the unsuspecting members of the public.
Noting that they were lies and half-truth, it recalled that Nigeria's former First Lady, Hajia Turai Yar'Adua was elected president of the AFLPM during the 6th Summit in February 2008 in Congo Brazzaville for a term of two years.
According to the statement, Turai Yar'Adua's tenure ought to have come to an end in 2010, when she should have organised a summit to elect a successor and hand over accordingly.
It said: 'The unfortunate incident that led to her sudden exit from office is well known and need not be mentioned here.
'This inability of the former President to officially hand over created a leadership vacuum in the AFLPM for some time until Her Excellency, Dame Jonathan was prevailed upon by her colleagues, African first ladies, to convene the summit in July 2012, during which she was subsequently elected president to serve for two years.
'For the avoidance of doubt, according to its internal regulation, the tenure of office of president of AFLPM is for a period of two years only.
'This, therefore, implies that the tenure of office of the incumbent president ought to have ended in 2014, when a fresh election should have held for a new executive.
'However, at the 3rd executive bureau meeting of the AFLPM in Pretoria, South Africa, in 2014, Her Excellency, Dame Jonathan drew the attention of members to the then forthcoming election in Nigeria, which preparation would not enable her host the summit to facilitate the election of new executives and a handover.
'She, therefore, proposed that the 8th Summit holds after the Nigeria general election and it was accordingly agreed that the summit would hold in July in Abuja, with the understanding that if her husband did not succeed in his re-election bid, she would convene the summit in May 2015, to enable the election of a new president and ensure a smooth handover since her tenure has ended.'
The statement explained that the emergency Summit was to forestall a misunderstanding that Nigeria intentionally orchestrated to remain in office as president, having held the position for the past seven years, instead of the two year tenure assigned to each country in the internal regulations of the Peace Mission.
It added: 'Arising from the above, it is, therefore, clear that this is not a personal matter or a specifically Nigeria sole affair, but a continental platform governed by its own rules and protocols just as similar international organisations.
'It will, therefore, be out of place for anyone to insinuate that it is intended to shut out the incoming First Lady. This cannot be farther from the truth.
'We state, therefore, without any iota of equivocation, that it is mischievous for anyone to scheme to cause disaffection between the outgoing and incoming First Ladies, Dame Jonathan and Hajia Buhari.
'Let us, therefore, come together in our tradition of hospitality to heartily welcome our guests, the African First Ladies as they arrive Abuja for the 8th Summit of the Mission.
'Let us always remember that the personal ambition of anybody is not worth destroying the image of the nation.'
While welcoming the African First Ladies to Nigeria, the statement also noted: 'It is about Nigeria not about Dame Jonathan.'