Soyinka’s Counsel to Dame Patience by Sam Nda-Isaiah
A few weeks ago, LEADERSHIP newspaper reported that Dame Patience Jonathan had relocated to Port Harcourt to put finishing touches to her family’s plan to dethrone the duly elected governor of Rivers State, Rotimi Amaechi. As is now usual with Jonathan’s spokespersons who think their raison d’etre is to lie on behalf of the president always, they quickly came out to declare that the story was not true. And as is the case with every story they have denied, this one is unravelling before our very eyes.
Last week’s act of barbarism in Port Harcourt exposes the kind of presidency that has taken over the country – one that has neither regard for decency nor respect for the Nigerian nation. It is the same presidency which tacitly declared a candidate who got 16 votes winner over the other who got 19. This presidency shows no sophistication of any sort in its savage governance of the country.
Professor Wole Soyinka got the context perfectly. In admonishing Patience Jonathan, he rightly characterised her as a “mere domestic appendage”. You must be a “lady first before becoming a first lady”, he said. If the president cannot call his spouse to order, then, it will be in order for someone else to do it for him. That is exactly what Professor Soyinka did last week, and I think those who consider themselves elders and statesmen of the country should speak up now before our country is thrown to the dogs. I do not know anywhere in the world where a mere state permanent secretary, which by the way is what the first lady proudly considers herself, will organise the kind of thuggery we saw last week. I am not surprised that some people are already calling for the president’s impeachment.
Well, since the constitution has not provided for the impeachment of the first lady, maybe it will be better to impeach the president so that the first lady can get out of the way. That’s probably the logic. This should have been a laughing matter but for the fact that our country is being made a laughing stock.
There was a time I was an advocate for Dame Patience. I used to tell people who got entertained by her inimitable licence with the English language to allow Dame Patience to be herself. Now I know better. She must not be allowed to be herself. She should be first lady, not herself. This is the challenge we now have as a nation.
Granted, the first lady has no constitutional role but any nation’s first lady does not need a constitutional role to become a role model. The role model function comes with the job. First ladies all over the civilised world are always a stabilising force for their busy husbands and they are invariably more popular with the people than their politician and often controversial husbands. Indeed, there was a time Dame Patience played that role because, as many have testified, she is generally a good lady. But since she became the first lady in our nation’s chequered history to double as a local permanent secretary, she snapped.
My candid advice to our dear first lady is to find a role for herself in furthering the welfare of children, women, or even rehabilitating prostitutes. She should leave politics to politicians and thuggery to thugs.
And it is important for the president to take full charge of his domestic affairs. If he cannot take control of his household, should we then be surprised that the entire country is in such disarray? The aphorism that charity begins at home should apply even to presidents.
The president’s own competence is already a source of worry for Nigerians. Matters should not be complicated with an unhinged first lady.
Let’s Play With The Issues, Not Religion
A few days ago, some PDP members came out with palpably false rumours suggesting that the principal officers of the yet-to-be-registered APC were mainly Muslims. That was plainly not true. But it will be well to advise politicians on both sides of the aisle to busy themselves with the issues only and not inflame unproductive passions on religion. What does it matter anyway if they are all Muslims or Christians? Where our leaders come from has become such a big issue these days while the leaders busy themselves with stealing the nation’s money.
Today, Nigerians have no water, no power, and no security of life and property, among other deficiencies, as a direct consequence of the corruption of our public officeholders who, by the way, cut across both religions. We should have learnt enough lessons by now. This country has had Christian/Christian presidency (under Gowon), Muslim/Muslim presidency (under Buhari) and the country was ruled properly. The Abiola/Kingibe ticket which won the presidential election in 1993 was also a Muslim/Muslim ticket.
A roll call of all the crooks stealing our nation’s money today would show that the thieves are both Christians and Muslims, at least by name. It is time for our political leaders to start discussing issues and not religion, which they only use when they want to cheat and divide the people. Next time any politician starts talking in terms of the religion of his opponent, know straightaway that he is trying to steal your money. And make sure such a person is not voted into power.
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