‘Office Of The First Daughter’: Is It A Prank, Or A Kite Being Flown?

By Isaac Asabor
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If there is a frivolous act that can be said to have been enmeshed in the mud of silliness that characterize Nigeria’s democracy, it is no doubt the cantankerous and overzealous phenomenon been promoted by wives of politicians; from one political dispensation to the other, so much that they meddle into the functions that constitutionally fall within the purview of their husbands, and this has in the recent times become irritating to not a few Nigerians, particularly dispassionate political observers among them. The reason for this cannot be far-fetched when the following viewpoints are taken into consideration.

First and foremost, their husbands were elected into political positions by the people based on the confidence reposed in them. Also, given the political antecedents of most of these politicians, the people saw them as those who may be able to fulfil their promises to the people; their wives were not elected into political offices. Also, given the same electioneering situation which their husbands faced before being considered to be voted for by the people, there is the likelihood that most politicians’ wives or specifically first ladies that are today meddling in governance would fail woefully, even at their wards when given the opportunities to run for a given political position.

Secondly, the unrestrained manner with which these women arrogate constitutionally defined and assigned responsibilities to themselves may likely usurp the functions of technocrats and professionals in Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) that are duly and constitutionally charged with carrying out the responsibilities the first ladies are today meddling in. Though their intentions seem altruistic, distrusting enough, they may become an avenue for looting public funds.

Despite the fact that many Nigerians see the existence of the office of the first lady as unconstitutional and an aberration, Folasade Tinubu-Ojo, the Iyaloja-general of Lagos, has updated her Twitter bio with the title ‘first daughter of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (FRN)’ following the inauguration of President Bola Tinubu inauguration to office on Monday, May 29, 2023.

In fact, when the attention of the foregoing unconstitutional move was drawn to a cerebral colleague of this writer, he said Nigeria is not Kenya, and jokingly dismissed the political development by saying that “It could be that someone is playing a prank, or flying a kite”.

Against the foregoing backdrop, his reference to Kenya can be understood from the perspective of the fact that last year, Charlene Ruto, the second eldest daughter of President William Ruto and Mama Rachel Ruto left an audience aghast when she introduced the team members of what she called the Office of The First Daughter.

However, when the flurry of criticisms and condemnations seemed to be unbearable to the father over her daughter’s unconstitutional act, President Ruto denied the existence of such an office. Ruto told journalists at State House, Nairobi thus, "Leave my daughter Charlene alone, you know these are kids, they’re just being children, you know very well that there is no such office. She is just being the daughter of William Ruto and sometimes she doesn’t know the divide between the President and the Father.”

The activities of Charlene Ruto prompted questions over whether she was using taxpayers' money, in December 2022 when she created the office, she denied that public money was being used to fund what she called the "Office of the First Daughter".

She said: "The Office of the First Daughter is a private entity. It is neither a constitutional office nor is it being funded by the Kenyan taxpayer."

Charlene said she referred to the entity handling her diary as the Office of the First Daughter in a private capacity, and not a public-funded office.

In a press statement on Wednesday, December 14, 2022, Charlene clarified that the office was neither constitutional nor was it drawing funds from the National Treasury.

The president’s daughter came under sharp criticism on Tuesday, December 13, 2022, when she introduced her delegation to Tanzania as members of staff at the Office of the First Daughter.

Given the foregoing, it is germane to urge the newly sworn-in Nigeria’s president, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, to call her daughter to order, and assure Nigerians, that the Office Of The President’s Daughter which her daughter seems to be introducing to Nigeria and Nigerians seems as if she is pranking Nigerians or she is flying a kite and should tell Nigerians that such office does not exist.