The current effort by Government, well meaning Nigerians and the International community at locating and rescuing the abducted Chibok girls has revealed some fundamental questions that rational minds should ask the vociferous critics of Nigeria First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan. Critics of the first lady and her office, here is the first question: In what capacity did Michelle Obama addressed the people of the United States of America on behalf of her husband, Barrack Obama on Saturday, May 10, 2014 when we know she is not the president of USA.
For avoidance of doubt here is an extract of her address: “Hello everyone, I’m Michelle Obama, and on this Mother’s Day weekend, I want to take a moment to honor all the mothers out there and wish you a Happy Mother’s Day. I also want to speak to you about an issue of great significance to me as a First Lady, and more importantly, as the mother of two young daughters. Like millions of people across the globe, my husband and I are outraged and heartbroken over the kidnapping of more than 200 Nigerian girls from their school dormitory in the middle of the night. This unconscionable act was committed by a terrorist group determined to keep these girls from getting an education – grown men attempting to snuff out the aspirations of young girls. — . In case critics of Dame Patience Jonathan are not aware, Michelle Obama’s address was supposed to be the weekly radio address by her husband. In other words, she stood in for him.
Did Michelle Obama brief Americans because she is the chief security officer of the United States of America? If Dame Patience Jonathan had done the same in Nigeria on behalf of her husband, will these unrepentant critics stomach such representation? What is the view of these critics of Nigeria first lady on USA’s first lady’s national outing on behalf of President Barrack Obama? Is it safe to say that as far as the critics in Nigeria are concerned, Dame Patience Jonathan must not play her role as the first lady of Nigeria, but Michelle Obama can perform similar role in USA.
Dame Patience Jonathan has not addressed Nigerians on behalf of her husband, she only led effort, from women angle to see how the abducted girls can be rescued unmolested; and this has become a crime on her part. But unrepentant critics in Nigeria have failed to see that what Michelle Obama is doing in USA is not different in form and content from what Dame Patience Jonathan is doing in Nigeria. Where has objectivity and good conscience gone in Nigeria on this? This writer cannot understand what is wrong in Nigeria first lady’s invitation to the first lady of Borno State, and other people that may be in better position to help in seeing that issues surrounding the abducted Chibok girls are handled in such a way that will deter mischief makers from taking advantage of the situation on ground.
Unfortunately, what Dame Patience Jonathan was trying to avoid in her invitation to relevant people in Chibok saga, is gradually rearing its ugly head. Instead of federal government and Nigerians uniting to fight terrorism, we are now struggling to separate politics from the fight against terror. In-fact, politics is gradually taken over the fight against terror in Nigeria, no thanks largely to critics of genuine efforts of Nigeria first lady in seeing to the rescue of abducted Chibok girls.
When an attempt at impeaching the then President of Nigeria at the National Assembly was made in 2001, the President in the eye of the storm, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo traveled to Lagos en-route Ogun State, his ancestral home; at the airport, reporters sought his view about the brewing impeachment move against him, he replied by saying, “I Dey Kamkpe” . Obasanjo’s reply to reporters question was not lost in rational Nigerians who were following events at that time. Recently, a foreign diplomat in Nigeria engaged some Nigerians in pigen English; many praised his mastery of our own version of English language. But when out of sheer emotional outburst, Nigeria first lady spoke in pigen English to one of those she invited from Borno State for a meeting in her office, it became a crime to her unrepentant critics.
From rational minds point of view, there is no essential difference between the response of former President Obasanjo and Dame Patience Jonathan in the instances under review. The critics of the first lady probably saw reason with Obasanjo then, but see no justification whatsoever in Dame Patience Jonathan’s version for motive[s] best known to them. One can only infer that the principal motive of critics of Dame Patience Jonathan is to bully her out of public domain because of her general acceptability by Nigerian women. Of all the criticisms of Nigeria first lady, no woman has come out to criticize her conduct either privately or publicly. Is not a huge irony that her critics are men, instead of been mostly women? That is why they will say, she summoned the first lady of Borno State and others when she is not the chief security officer of Nigeria. But the first lady of Borno State did not and has not said she was summoned by Dame Patience Jonathan.
This apparently politically motivated bully Dame Patience out of public domain campaign going on has revealed that some tiny minority of Nigerians are afraid of the first lady’s place in the history of Nigeria. Her comprehensive women empowerment initiative and other services to humanity are evident in Nigeria. I wonder why the first lady efforts at seeing an end to the plight of less privileged Nigerians, especially women and children, are not been interrogated.
Information Management Consultant & Researcher,
Lives in FCT,