Keeping Up with the Jonathans By Japheth Omojuwa
When people suddenly find themselves in such latter position (being the wife of Nigeria’s 1 citizen), prepared or unprepared, anywhere in the world, they are taken through a crash programme in finishing and poise and made to realise that being the wife of an important man comes with serious responsibilities lest they sabotage the same person that they should be supporting. If Dame Patience went through such re-orientation, the course was incomplete.”
The above excerpt was Dr. Reuben Abati’s assessment of Nigeria’s so-called first lady, Patience Jonathan, in August 2010. Almost four years on, despite having the opportunity to have the same Abati put her “through a crash programme in finishing and poise,” Mrs Jonathan has remained consistent with her lack of poise and class. With the same Abati an aide to her husband, President Goodluck Jonathan, Patience would rather probably engage the talents of the same Abati in putting up a press statement excusing her now predictable lack of poise and empathy.
The First Lady loves to be seen and perceived as the “Mother of the nation”, whatever that means, but on account of her classless antics over the last few days, she is not even worthy of being deemed the mother of a kindergarten class. Being classless and without any sense of decorum is one thing, being perpetually ready to display such when class and decorum would suffice is a cause for concern, especially if the subject in question is the wife of the President of Nigeria. Mrs. Jonathan has shown this side of hers to Nigerians over the years but it did hurt to see her go global with her overbearing antics that portray her as one without any sense of control or discipline.
The arrest of Mrs. Naomi Nyadar and Saratu Angus Ndirpaya of Chibok town allegedly on the orders of the First Lady is an unfortunate one. It again empathises the insensitivity of the President and his wife. Accusing people of not supporting the President, her husband, just because they decided to join fellow citizens in demanding that the government immediately does something concrete about the rescue of the over 200 abducted schoolgirls. Accusing them of being Boko Haram members just to find an excuse to hang them on even shows a side of her that adds to her image of one without sense of order and time.
The First Lady must really now believe that she is some sort of alternate president, that if her husband cannot act for any reason, Nigerians would be pleased to see her act. Seeing as she was not voted in by Nigerians, she probably believes acting as the alternate president would require the use of force.
Or, on what grounds would the First Lady order Nigerian women to stop protesting? What rights or sense of achievement makes her think that people like Oby Ezekwesili and Maryam Uwais would listen to her? What has the First Lady achieved in her personal place as a woman outside of the “achievements” associated with her being the wife of the President? It is easy to get carried away with being the First Lady but ours must understand that, outside of that name, she would find it really difficult among most Nigerian women.
At a time our country is being bombarded by the twin realities of a demonic terrorist group and a helplessly incompetent and uncaring President, a First Lady who constantly terrorises ordinary citizens with her highhandedness cannot be the right mix at these times. It is not bad enough that the First Lady did nothing about the abducted girls for almost two weeks since their abduction, she wants us to believe that she cares more than the mothers and women who have been at the forefront of demanding that the government #BringBackOurGirls. Shedding political tears will not suddenly erase the silence that was her response after the abductions.
It has suddenly become globally “cool” to be seen caring about the girls, our Mother of the nation thinks shedding tears on national TV will easily set her up for sainthood. We are not fooled.
And then there was the President himself! “Some of those cases they call corruption, are just people stealing!”, the President said on Sunday night during the Presidential media chat.
Nigeria shares most of its major challenges with several countries around the world, but the one challenge that is unique to Nigeria is the Goodluck Jonathan challenge. The Presidential media chat that held on Sunday, May 4, is a clear indication that, not only is our country in dire straits, but as long as Jonathan is in charge, we will have several more days of screaming about the same challenges. The only difference would be in the intensity and size of the damage that’d be inflicted on Nigerians by the Jonathan administration.
In case you have not been paying attention, President Jonathan has spent considerable time defending two major issues, three if we add the now defunct, abandoned cassava bread project. You’d be hard pressed to find a presidential media chat where our President did not defend this one minister we must now begin to admit he holds dear to his heart. The President was far louder and passionate when he was defending the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke’s rights to spend N10bn on each of her at least three jets than he did speaking about the still abducted Chibok girls. Expectedly, you cannot defend a Deziani and not defend the umbrella under which her image has come to be seen and known by ordinary Nigerians; corruption. Mr. President believes that no matter how much you steal from government, you are “just stealing” and we cannot call it corruption. The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, once said Jonathan’s “body language” shows he supports corruption but watching Sunday’s media chat, one could see the President’s lingua franca is corruption.
If you are still waiting for this administration to fight corruption, your wait is not likely to end. The reason is obvious; no corruption is going on under this administration; if you would call it correctly, you can say they are “just stealing.” We are done for and we must begin to understand that as long as we have this man running this country, our hope for a better country will continue to diminish each day he is allowed to take the decisions that not only affect our own lives but that of generations unborn.
Anyone who watched the media chat and did not feel sad for Nigeria and Nigerians is likely to either be a direct beneficiary of this administration or someone with an acutely low expectation of who and what a president represents and should be like. If that last Presidential media chat was indeed presidential in execution, then we can begin to refer to anyone who calls himself a billionaire as a billionaire irrespective of how empty the bank account and net-worth.
Jonathan should save Nigeria and its destiny; he should check out of power as soon as he can, latest May 29, 2015. He compared the Chibok abductions to the search for MH370, but can Nigerians compare the Malaysian government’s response to that disaster and his response to the Chibok abductions? We cannot compare because he was dancing Skelewu at a political rally in Kano a day after the abductions and was never going to do anything about it. Thank God for a burgeoning group of active citizens who kept the issue on the front burner. May God save Nigeria from the Jonathans!
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