Nigeria’s first lady, Dame Patience Jonathan
I watched Mrs Jonathan’s meeting on Channels TV and came
away with more than mixed feelings.
As I watched this important gathering that Mrs Jonathan had
pulled together on the back of lack of results in the case of
the abducted school girls of Chibok in Borno State, my
immediate impression was that, chai, with the right handling,
this lady could be a good leader. And since we are already
being led, or must be led by a Jonathan, we are probably being
governed by the wrong one.
Then, lamentably, Mrs Jonathan veered off and went the
way of…well…Mrs Jonathan. She began to want to conflate
matters and lay the wrong emphasis on the wrong things.
But, doesn’t matter; Mrs Jonathan had done something that, in
the beginning, was certainly right; something that needed to
be done and should have been done long before then. Through
her small meetings, Mrs Jonathan managed to upstage her
husband and, in fact, achieved in a couple of days more than
the President and his security chiefs have achieved in damn
near three years. Her intervention was more dynamic and
shone more light on some pertinent issues – not like the
occasional photo of talk-shop we get from the President.
Sometimes, a leader just has to lead; period. Mrs Jonathan, in
her own garrulous way, did just that at the end of last week.
She had dragged before her some of the dramatis personae in
this whole sordid Chibok matter. Through her effort, we can
now see that there has been a method to Boko Haram‘s
madness all along. We now know that apart from churches,
Boko Haram appears to have been deliberately targeting
schools with largely Christian students or in largely Christian
Through Mrs Jonathan’s effort, we also found out that the
governor of Borno State, Kashim Shettima, despite West
African Examination Council’s (WAEC) advice to the contrary,
deliberately left the school (a State school) open for exams
and therefore left it vulnerable to what subsequently befell
those girls. Mr Shettima refused for the students to be
moved to relatively safer examination centres in Maiduguri.
Instead, he wrote to WAEC assuring them that adequate
security will be provided for the school. Obviously, adequate
security wasn’t provided; look what has happened! You can
begin to see why Mrs Jonathan veered off tangent and gave
in to her more impulsive, antediluvian and suspicious side.
This should give all of us a pause. The rest of us and Mr
Jonathan need to rethink our approach to this menace.
Furthermore, I was shocked to hear the President say that we
do not have a modern army. We don’t? What then has been
happening to all the billions that go into Defence budgets
every year? So, in a way, I was relieved to learn that the
Americans are coming to help us out. At this point, any help
would be better than what has obtained for three long
weeks. However, it would be best if the Americans assist
from the ‘rear’ so that their humanitarian intervention doesn’t
turn into another theatre of good versus evil confrontation.
My guess is that the cowardly Boko Haramites are still holding
on to the school girls in the forest as human shields. What an
And this is why I disagree with Ms Iyabo Obasanjo who in a
recent open letter to Boko Haram likened that group to a
I don’t know whether Ms Obasanjo’s take was informed by
her ongoing walk down the cathartic path, but to christen
Boko Haram a revolutionary group sounds too close to
blasphemy. If anything, Boko Haram is the military arm of one
half of the exploitative and thieving cabal that holds Nigeria
down. Their current campaign is directed squarely at the
people – the exact opposite definition of a revolution. After
maiming and killing fellow citizens, their leaders can often be
found cooling off in the inner recesses of the mansions and
guest houses of cabal members.
This is why I spit whenever I hear another one of their
leaders carp that Jonathan should not seek re-election
because of his lack of vigour in combating insecurity in the
country. This is coming from the same people who told us
that they will make the country ungovernable. It is like a
tenant who lets into the house his sticky-fingered prodigal
son only to turn around and blame the gateman for his missing
Their Boko Haram has taken up arms against the State, not in
a revolutionary fervour but to criminally avenge an election
loss. Do revolutionaries drive past schools of the privileged,
head for schools for ordinary folks and gun down sleeping
students in their beds? Do revolutionaries drive past opulent
mansions and other obscene edifices of graft and go bomb a
motor park for the exclusive use of ordinary folks? I don’t
It really burns me that Mr Jonathan continues to refuse to pick
up the sponsors of Boko Haram. What really is stopping him?
I don’t at all understand this kind of leadership model.
So I found Mrs Jonathan’s effort and contribution (which
sadly later degenerated into a spectacle) in unravelling this
national heartbreak refreshing. We just wish Mr Jonathan
could be more like her in some aspects.
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