Chibok: Patience, Shettimas and the Incongruous Tears, By Funmilola Ajala
Nigeria’s First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan, is in the news, again. Has there been a time public glarecompletely eludes her? Simply, there hasn’t.
But, the Dame mentioning in public discourse – this particular time – seems not to be what the 1st family would have wanted, at least if one realises the negativity in the so-called humour of ‘There is God ooo’ chant which suddenly appears to be the latest rave among young and old folks in Nigeria.
Not in this era when the nation is muddled in a socio-political quagmire concerning how to resolve the mystery of the Boko Haram kidnapped girls of Government Secondary School, in Chibok, Borno state, a month now.
It is, indeed,unfortunate that the encounter which led to the public opprobrium of the First Lady was supposedly a crisis meeting of top female politicians and wives of state governors, convened by Mrs. Jonathan herself, in Abuja, on the evening of Sunday, May 4th, 2014.
Incidentally, the lasting reminiscence of the meeting – called to fashion a prototype for safe release of the abducted girls – would certainly not be that the parley achieved its principal agenda. In contrary, the image of Mrs. Jonathan unexpectedly breaking down in tears, sobbing uncontrollably,caressing her face with a white handkerchief, will forever stick to the mind of many who saw her in that very compromising gesture.
And, for those who missed the ‘show’ that night, the video excerpt has turned a sensation on the video-sharing website, YouTube.
Of course, Mrs. Jonathan has been subjected to unending media perusal since she appeared on the national scene, few years ago, often for the wrong reasons. Perhaps, she has habitually not being helpful to her very own course, if her perceived undue interference in real-time politics in states like Bayelsa and Rivers is taken into accounts.
Still, nothing compares to the subsisting derision which her action has provoked since she assumed the unconstitutional, but influential portfolio of Nigeria’s number one woman in May 2010.
Not only few Nigerians questioned the genuineness of Madam Jonathan’s tears, many also doubt the original rationale of such display of emotion, suggesting that she might have ‘staged’ the drama just to excuse her underfire husband from the salvo of guilt placed at his doorsteps since the vicious Boko Haram human shopping spree in Chibok, last month.
While it is, to be candid, arduous, and maybe extraneous, to embark on ascertaining the veracity of Mrs. Jonathan’s frustration viz-a-viz its contextual connotations; it is socially obligatory for anyone trying to execute a sincere assessment of Dame Patience to be holistic in such assignment.
And, so, in musing over the expressive flop of the First Lady, and its motive(s), one must not forget to deduce some lucid lines from her tearful submission, the most important of which is, ‘Why did the wife of governor Kashim Shettima of Borno state, Nana, fail to be in attendance at the meeting, for the second time in 3 days?’
Meanwhile, news and official press release from Borno, the following day, indicate that Mrs. Shettima had to excuse herself from the Abuja meeting in order to be in Chibok, offering solidarity to the parents of the abducted girls and other women in the community. And pronto, another video clip – albeit not as explicit as Patience’s -surfaced online, showing Mrs. Shettima, too, in tears in the midst of amplified wailing in Chibok.
And while this unsolicited drama between the 2 First Ladies unfolds, governor Shettima was also pictured, sobbing, in Maiduguri when he received protesters from Chibok, who invaded his office, last Friday. For the records, governor Shettima had reportedly broke-down in similar fashion, when he visited a community hit by Boko Haram insurgents few months ago.
At this juncture, would it not be logical to pose: ‘if Nigerians would not forgive male politicians for the unsavory and grubby leadership calamity which their apparent ineptitude and greed have foisted on the nation; what then about the female folk in our political elitism who are fast perfecting the mastery of aggregating public sentiment through phony emotional gimmickry? That is, if one may ask.
In 1996, rebels of fugitive, Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), stormed St. Mary’s College boarding school, in Aboke, northern Uganda, abducting 139 female pupils. It took the bravery of the school Head teacher, Rachele Fassera, a missionary from Italy – who went into the forest – to appease the belligerents. She was able to secure the freedom of 109 of the kidnapped girls.
Such actsas Fassera’s are practically non-existence in Nigeria where everyone – who is connected with power – appears to be suffering from an incurable political migraine which has impared our collective sight and reasoning.
If these two women, who are ordinarily supposed to be the most concerned would decide to communicate on such a delicate national tragedy in the media, then one should not be hanged for suggesting that the deep-seated political animosity between their husbands may have informed their respective actions, despite their inconsequential tears of vexation, or solidarity – as the case may apply.
In her first assignment as a minister of the federal republic of Nigeria, Diezani Alison-Maduekwe, then in charge of Ministry of Works, travelled – officially – through the ever congested Benin-Ore road. Surprised at the sight of deplorable status of the road and its adverse effects on those plying it daily, Madam Minister shed tears while pledging that the road would be fixed as soon as possible. Fast-forward to the present reality, the story of the road remains as miserable as ever.
Perchance, there is one interesting aspect of President Barack Obama that many might not know. The number one American citizen struggles with Nicotine consumption long before he ventured into the White House. He is said to be an addicted smoker by those who are close to him.
However, he was caught off guard sometimes last year while exchanging pleasantries with a diplomat who was a former colleague – at a public event. Obviously not aware that one of the microphones around was not mute, Mr. Obama could be heard by reporters jokingly asking his longterm associate if he had quit smoking. He went further to reveal that he had not indulged in the habit for a while,because he is “scared” of his wife, Michelle.
Embarrassing!One might probably want to conclude. Yet, the scenario explains the pragmatism of the influential role a woman is pre-loaded and endowed with, by nature.
The same influence put to bear on Barack by Michelle was adopted by Fassera against Kony. The same influence which has been missing among Nigerian women, primarily those who are privileged to live in state-sponsored opulence.
The current level of degeneration which has displaced our societal values may not seize, anytime soon, if all we are served with as citizens is cheap, sickening, and distasteful artistic mastery of interminable political swipe, partisan mimicry, and unnecessary blame apportioning, even from wives of beneficiaries of our national grandeur.
- You can follow Ajala on Twitter: @ajalatravel07 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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