by Joe Igbokwe
Shortly after President GEJ was sworn in, her deficiency began to manifest. Comportment, carriage, finesse, decency, prestige, honour and glory that go with the exalted position began to suffer. Any public outing became a big embarrassment to President Jonathan and Nigerians. Her public engagements became unbecoming of anybody that is privileged to be called the wife of the President of Nigeria. These embarrassments were of public knowledge and even at the presidency, the matter was well-known but nothing was done to stop the ridicule. Nobody quarreled with President Jonathan because Dame Patience is his wife but we expected that he would have put his feet down and ensured that his wife went for training or back to school to learn few things about social graces and carriage. If it was impossible for her to humble herself to learn, the president would have confined her to the State House to prepare food for him. But President Jonathan did not do any of these. He pretended that nothing is lost and that probably the woman will learn through practice. But has she learnt anything? Not to my knowledge. Her reckless and primitive use of State power has gotten into her head, her mouth, her eyes, her mind, her heart, her soul, her system.
Today, her unrestricted movements and engagement have dented the presidency and Nigeria’s image. Her encounter with Governor Amaechi sometime ago in Port Harcourt was an eye opener. In a public function, she grabbed the microphone and began to direct the sitting governor that his demolition of shanties in Port Harcourt is unacceptable. Governor Amaechi was stunned into disbelief but he restrained himself for the respect he has for Mr. President. Mrs. Patience did not stop there. Anytime she goes to any state, commuters suffer excruciating pains because there will be no movement until she cruises in and out. Last year, Dame Patience came to Lagos on a mission that is yet not too clear except the position put forth by her handlers that she came to thank Lagos women for supporting her husband in the 2011 election. For the duration of her visit, Lagos was shut down and Lagosians went through excruciating torture moving about and carying out their normal duties. Last year also, she was said to have stormed Warri to open a boutique and the whole town was shut down. Tales of woes have been told of these excesses in other cities she visited but the presidency paid no attention.
The present unavoidable and unfortunate crisis in Rivers State has also exposed the excesses, recklessness, the timid use of power to achieve diabolical ends. An anti-Amaechi lawmaker in Rivers State House of Assembly said Dame Patience Jonathan is his Jesus Christ on earth. This statement at once exposed the neck-deep involvement of Dame Patience Jonathan in the dangerous political game being played in Rivers State that may derail our hard-earned democracy if the presidency fails to act.
Now the questions are: do we have a constitutional provision for the office of the First Lady in the 1999 Constitution? Did anybody elect Mrs. Jonathan for any post in Nigeria? Is there anything like the office of the First Lady in Nigeria? What is pushing this limited educated wife of the President to indulge in this show of power and strength? Why is the presidency keeping quiet about this abuse of privileges? Why is the National Assembly deaf and dumb on these abuses of privileges by Dame Patience Jonathan and the wanton excesses she is manifesting in the polity? Why is the Council of States keeping mute on these unwarranted embarrassments from Mrs. Patience Jonathan? Apart from a voice from the global personality called Professor Wole Soyinka, what are the elders of Nigeria saying about this mess and shame? Why are the women not speaking out? Why this deafening silence? What about the intelligentsia, the university lecturers? Why are the lawyers not speaking? What of labour? If a writer is silent, he or she is lying.
Now, we must stop this nonsense. Those who knew nothing about this democracy we are enjoying today are working 24 hours a day to scuttle the hard-earned system of government, but we must not allow this. Elders must speak out for the children to hear. President Jonathan must have the courage to call his wife to order. Dame Patience is not too old to go back to school to help herself. I am 100% sure that if she had a better education, she would have understood her limits and where to stop as the President’s wife.
This is a lesson to all women whose husbands have political ambition. Go and help yourself, go to school, learn the art of carriage, learn finesse, learn self control, learn diplomacy, learn public speaking, understand your limitations, read voraciously, learn about dignity and integrity, discipline and respect for constituted authority.
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