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Nigeria: Many Virtues Of Patience


The recent diktat by Nigeria’s first lady that her husband’s political opponents be stoned is yet another red flag that the bungling government in Nigeria is not sincere in conducting violence-free elections.

By Abdulrazaq Magaji – Nigerians are getting to know why Rivers State has become a killing field. The last time, it was when the campaign train of the opposition All Progressives’ Congress, APC, landed in the bustling town of Okrika only to be confronted by hoodlums. By the time the dust cleared, one policeman was killed while several APC members and one television reporter were seriously injured. The hoodlums who attacked APC members in Okrika, like similar attacks across Rivers state merely acted out a well-crafted script. Okrika, as if we need to remind ourselves, is the hometown of Nigeria’s first lady, Dame Patience Jonathan. Does it matter?

It does, considering the fact that at a recent campaign rally in Calabar, Mrs. Jonathan, in her characteristic waddle, mounted the rostrum and, in a hate-filled voice ordered that henceforth anyone caught shouting ‘change’ should be stoned! The first lady’s diktat came at a time the word ‘change’ has become the most popular word in Nigeria. As well as being the slogan of the APC, ‘change’ has become a word members of the fumbling ruling Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP, now live in morbid fear of. Mrs. Jonathan is reputed for her tantrums since ‘luck’ catapulted her to Abuja but, it seem that this time around, her okro mouth took her far!

Mrs. Jonathan deserves our pity but, heck! what manner of mother figure would order people to be stoned for espousing opposing views? A mark of the pity Nigerians have for their first lady is the usual recourse to dismiss her tantrums or, at worse, parody her off-the-wall remarks. Her recent call to arms does not depart from her well-known tantrums. But even at that, two reasons make it imperative to caution Mrs. Jonathan since those who should do so have either decided to abdicate their responsibilities or turn the blind eye. One, it was foolish tantrums that just earned another profane first lady, Mrs. Simone Gbagbo of Ivory Coast, a twenty-year jail term. Another long spell awaits her at the International Criminal Court at The Hague. To avoid a similar fate, Mrs. Patience Jonathan will do well to begin to pray earnestly against election-related violence and learn to keep her genocidal tongue in check!

Secondly, Mrs. Jonathan has further sullied the lack-lustre campaign of her husband by her call to arms and the few level-headed but non committal allies of the president must be hugely embarrassed by the first lady’s gracelessness. This is for the simple fact that her husband, President Goodluck Jonathan, is a willing signatory to a peace accord. Or, does the first lady know more than Nigerians think she knows? In any case, these are unsolicited pieces of advice and it will be delusional to even imagine it will make any appreciable impression on the first lady or those close to her! Reason?

Discerning Nigerians thought the Mrs. Jonathan learnt a lesson or two from her sloppy performance in the aftermath of the abduction of more than two hundred school girls in Chibok. Strangely, the first lady’s initial response to the abduction story was dismissive; she only introduced a comic angle to a serious matter when she burst into tears in front of television cameras. Like Kema Chikwe and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, both senior cabinet members in the Jonathan presidency and several men and women of the moment, Dame Patience later passed off the abduction as political gimmick by the opposition! If anything, her unprecedented order that opposition politicians be stoned suggests that the first lady missed the lessons of her Chibok debacle.

Had she known her pet idea would so soon be bastardized, chances are that late Hajiya Maryam Babangida would most probably have refrained from introducing verve, drama and activism to the unofficial office of first lady. Since the fad caught on, Nigerians never had the misfortune of having an occupant who took the office to embarrassing heights as it is being done today! A mark of un-preparedness of Dame Patience for the role was her wrong-headed and misplaced agenda to promote the welfare of Africa’s first ladies and female presidents when she could have used the office to promote the welfare of excluded and vulnerable women and children in Nigeria.

Judged by the way she has executed her office thus far, it remains a mystery that Nigeria’s first lady has neither presided over cabinet meetings nor appeared at the head Nigeria’s delegation to the United Nations General Assembly! In harmonious unions, it is absolutely normal for devoted wives to exercise some extent of influence over their spouses. In the same vein, there is absolutely nothing wrong if, for the love of her husband, Mrs. Jonathan occasionally assume some of her husband’s official responsibilities. This should not be a problem for a woman who, due to her excessive love for her husband, can order his political opponents to be stoned!

Of course, government should institute a Hall of Fame for the likes of Mrs. Jonathan. A first lady who instructs people to stone political opponents deserves to be worshipped! In fact, her name should top the list of those to be so honoured! She has done enough to warrant it; she has proved to be the world’s most imaginative and hardworking first lady! After all, hard work, like its twin sister, patience, is a virtue. No one should appreciate this better than Madam Patience even though it has become clear, in view of her order that those who oppose her husband should be stoned, that the virtues of patience and hard work are lost on Madam Patience.

Abdulrazaq Magaji lives in Abuja and can be reached at magaji777@yahoo.com

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