Sonala Olumhense: A New Patience Jonathan?

Published:27 Feb, 2013

In the interest of full disclosure, let me first recall that I have inconvenienced the First Lady, Mrs. Patience Jonathan, in the past.

I commented on two incidents in 2006 when the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) said it had twice seized vast funds from her: the first the sum of N104 million; and the second, $13.5 million.

Mrs. Jonathan did not like my writing about this subject, and as she became one of the world’s most powerful women, she took out an advertorial in the Nigerian press, threatening to sue me.

Last Sunday, Mrs. Jonathan was not breathing fire.  At a thanksgiving church service, reports say she testified to the fragility of the human body, telling worshippers of her near-death experience in the months of September and October 2012.

During that time, it was common knowledge that she was out of the country, but the seat of federal power at her husband’s command did not say where she was.  It was widely reported she was in poor health, but the presidency provided no official confirmation.   Whatever appeared in the press about the First Lady was met with denials and rebuttals.

Mrs. Jonathan returned to Nigeria in the middle of October, having been away for about six weeks.  As soon as she set foot on Nigerian soil, she tried to fortify those denials.  She was never ill, she said, had never heard of the hospital in Wiesbaden, Germany, to which intrepid Citizen Reporters had traced her.  She had never had surgery.

Then came last Sunday, February 17, 2013, when she painted with her own tongue a harrowing picture of sickness, agony, and confrontation with death.  She had indeed had eight or nine surgeries in one month, Mrs. Jonathan said, and spent seven days in what sounded like a coma.  At a point, her condition was so bad that her expensive doctors even gave up on her.

“It was God himself in His infinite mercy that said I will return to Nigeria,” she said.  “God woke me up after seven days.”

Every Christian knows that you do not wield the name of God in vain.  When she said that God restored her to life, you could hear a collective “Amen!” sweep through Nigeria.

I want Mrs. Jonathan to know that I was responsible for one of those Amens, and many before then.  Her life is sacred before God and before man, and nobody has any right to challenge it.

A new kind of clarity seems to have visited Mrs. Jonathan lately because in her testimony in that church, she demonstrated an unexpected perspective of time and chance.  “I will [from now on] be doing things that will touch the lives of the less privileged,” she said.  “God gave me a second chance because I reached there [that is, actually died]. He knew I had not completed the assignments He gave me that was why I was sent back.”

I welcome Mrs. Jonathan back, with joy, from the Pearly Gates, and thank her for the recognition she has accorded to God for her good fortune.
Now what?

The First Lady followed up her appearance at the Aso Rock Chapel with a celebration of epic proportions valued at half a billion Naira, attended by the nation’s high and mighty.

The question is how she implements her pledge to do things to improve the lives of the less-privileged, for which she considers her life on earth has been extended.  Nigeria is a land of hypocrites; a country where the less-privileged people are despised.   My experience as a journalist and commentator in the last 30 years has convinced me of a certain wickedness of heart in Nigeria’s rich and powerful.

Perhaps because most of the wealth and power is often stolen, begged or borrowed, those who have it seem to hold in contempt those who are not as ruthless.  Their lifestyle becomes one of lying, cheating and stealing, and the people they exploit the most are the less-privileged.

Perhaps this is Mrs. Jonathan’s mission: to bridge the gap between those who have and those who lack; between those who are overfed and those who are starving; between those who are dying and those who do not need to die.

Last Sunday morning, Mrs. Jonathan threw shame to the winds and talked candidly about her life-changing ordeal, of doctors giving up apparently because she was thought to be beyond help.  Perhaps it is Mrs. Jonathan’s destiny now to remind Nigeria that there are thousands of people every day who need help for a variety of conditions, from hunger to health.

Why?  The answer is that Nigeria is the greediest nation on earth.  Add that greed to our corruption and it is easy to see why economic plans and budgets and public projects are never implemented.  That is why we lack roads and hospitals and good schools.  Rather than build roads, we buy jets.  Rather than build hospitals, we go to Europe.

That is why we put merit next, not first.  That is why we worship the wealthy, not the just.  We honour the looters and ignore the diligent.  We praise the loud not the humble.  We ignore the planting season, and wait for the harvest.

That is how shame of being labeled the “less-privileged,” which in Nigeria means “disposable,” has arisen.  It is fascinating that these are the elements Mrs. Jonathan now says she wants to help.

I can assure Mrs. Jonathan, at the risk of being sued, that I do not believe her.  When she and her husband left Bayelsa State, it was with a lot of allegations, and events since then have not improved their image.  Reporting on the April 2007 election, the Council on Foreign Relations in New York referred to Mrs. Jonathan as the “greediest person in Bayelsa State,” and a woman of great cruelty. In June 2006, NIDDEMCOW, the Niger Development Monitoring and Corporate Watch, begged the EFCC to publish its report on Mrs. Jonathan.  The Commission did not.

Add to those concerns Mrs. Jonathan’s money-laundering encounters with the EFCC which have never been transparently discharged, and it is clear her new pledge will come under exceedingly close monitoring.

But even in an era of heavy political posturing and false promises, she deserves a chance to prove that she is serious.  Where political office-holders have failed, there are a thousand ways she can leave behind a special reputation as an achiever.  She can provide a lifeline to millions of Nigerian women and children who have no access to fancy hospitals; or access to education, technical training; she can disburse opportunity by the trailer load.
And if she wants help in this direction, it is right there in the thousands of top Nigerians who were at her party at the weekend.

Yet we must be clear: if Mrs. Jonathan truly wants to bless Nigeria with her second crack at relevance, she must remember that the constitution does not recognize her office as a legal person.  Motivated by the engine of her gratitude to God, she must deploy the power of her will and her own imagination and hands.

If she proves to be genuine, this I promise: whatever I am, and my own two hands.

 

Sonala Olumhense

via SaharaReporters

Related Posts

Recent Posts

“I stand by my allegations, I will never apologize” – Lawmaker Abdulmumin Jibrin Dares Speaker Dogara

Lawmaker, Abdulmumin Jibrin has said he will never apologize to speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara over allegations of padded budget 2016.   In a series of tweets reacting to the Speaker’s statements issued, Jibrin wrote, “I will not and will never apologize to a shameless fraud in high office who has glaringly abused public trust like speaker Dogara and 3 others”.   The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu...

Yummy: Cockroach Milk May Hit The Markets Soon – Researchers

A little cockroach milk with those cookies? Chock full of protein, the insect milk may someday be transformed into a food supplement worthy of human consumption, new research indicates. Scientists have found that the Pacific Beetle Cockroach feeds its bug babies a formula which is remarkably rich in protein, fat and sugar. Don't expect to find it next to the regular milk in the dairy section, however, at least not for now. "Any liquid harvested from a...

Fresh: APC/PDP At War Over Rivers Election Re-Run

The Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) has slammed the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for postponing the National and State Assembly rerun elections in Rivers State once more. PDP voiced its anger in a series of tweets on its official Twitter handle on Wednesday and noted that this was second postponement following an initial postponement in March this year.   The party, which also aimed potshots at President Muhammadu Buhari, claimed that the postponements have only allowed for the continuation of ‘unjust...

Netflix Director Buys 600,000 Shares—Stock Soars

In a filing after the close, Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX) saw a rare insider buy. Director, Jay Hoag, disclosed the purchase of 600,000 shares. Data showed he bought 200,000 shares on three consecutive trading days: 07/21/16, 07/22/16 and 07/25/16. Average prices paid were $85.93-$87.60. The buying comes as the stock is down 23% YTD and 11% since earnings on July 18, when the company posted disappointing...

Congolese Musician Koffi Olomide Detained In Prison, Reaches Out To His Fans For Support

Congolese musician Koffi Olomide was arrested by Police at his home on Tuesday. He was taken to a court building, subsequently charged by a prosecutor with assault & battery and detained in prison pending the outcome of his case. This is coming after the music star was deported by the Kenyan government last week after a video emerged showing him kicking one of his female dancers at Nairobi Airport. The Music star has now released a...

Top Pope Aide Investigated For Australia Child Sex Abuse- Report

Vatican finance chief George Pell is being investigated by Australian police over child sexual abuse allegations, a report by the national broadcaster said Thursday, as the leading Catholic cleric denounced the claims as “totally untrue”. The new allegations against Pell being probed by police in Victoria State span two decades, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported, and came just months after the cardinal admitted he “mucked up” in dealing with paedophile priests in the state. When he...

Aviation Fuel Price Soars Above N240 Per Litre

The pump price of aviation fuel (popularly known as Jet A1) yesterday surged above N240 per litre, representing 100 per cent increase from the N120 per litre price sold about this time last year. The development also jolted the flight schedule of domestic airlines as cancellations and delays became the order of the day. Nigeria’s aviation industry has been hit by severe scarcity of Jet A1 with prices rising steadily from N120 per litre to N150, N180 and eventually...

How Nigeria Is Fighting Corruption – The Economist

  NIGERIANS know what to expect when they approach police checkpoints. “How can you appreciate me?” ask officers, AK-47s dangling languidly from their shoulders. “Happy weekend!” say security guards from the early hours of Friday morning. Or simply: “What do you have for me?” Nigeria, as David Cameron, Britain’s former prime minister, pointed out, is “fantastically corrupt”. In Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index, it is 31st from the bottom. Nigeria’s president, Muhammadu Buhari, a former military ruler, wants to change...

Chairmanship: PDP Group Endorses Gbenga Daniel

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) New Era has backed a former Governor of Ogun State, Otunba Gbenga Daniel (OGD), to become the party’s next National Chairman. Members of the group, who addressed newsmen in Abuja Wednesday, said despite the fact that the party’s zoning committee had zoned the position to the south, the South-west should be given the opportunity to occupy the post for the first time in the history of the party. The group’s...

France Aims To Ease Religious Fears After Church Attack

President Francois Hollande sought Wednesday to head off divisions between France’s religious communities after the jihadist-claimed murder of a Catholic priest in his church, as calls mounted for tougher security measures. Hollande gathered top religious leaders at his Elysee Palace offices, as a violence-weary France struggled to come to terms with the latest attack, just two weeks after the Bastille Day truck massacre that killed 84 people. France’s large Catholic community was in shock after...

Man Who Spent $100,000 To Look Like Justin Bieber Dies

An autopsy report shows that a man who claimed to have spent $100,000 on plastic surgery to look like Justin Bieber has died of drug and alcohol overdose. The 35-year-old man, Tobias Strebel, who went by the name Toby Sheldon’s body was found in a Motel in the North Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles. The coroner’s report says Strebel’s body was in a state of “moderate decomposition.” Drugs found in his system include Valium, Xanax and alcohol,...

EFCC To Arraign Suspects For Duping Swiss National Of $530,000

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC has secured the leave of a Kano High Court sitting Kano, to arraign Saminu Umar Ta’ambu and Ahmed Maiturare of the popular kantin kwari textile market, Kano, for offences bordering on obtaining by false pretence. They allegedly used the name of Kano State government to induce a Swiss National, Mathias Hee, Owner of Okutex Ag, into supplying them with fabrics worth $530,000. Justice Dije Aboki gave the nod after hearing argument on the application...

El-Rufa’i Raises Committee On Army/Shiites Clash

Gov. Nasiru El-Rufai of Kaduna State has set up a nine-man committee to produce a white paper on the report of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into the Army/Shiites clash in the state. The Army/Shiites clash in Zaria last December had left many people dead. This is contained in a statement issued by Mr Samuel Aruwan, Media aide to the governor, in Kaduna on Wednesday.El-Rufai said that the committee would commence work immediately and submit...

Police Nab South African Cocaine Trafficker’s Nigerian Accomplice

A Nigerian suspected of having sponsored a South African woman, Lerato Lekganyane, who was allegedly caught with 1.21 kilogrammes of cocaine at the Murtala Muhammad International Airport (MMIA), Lagos on May 20, has been arrested.  The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) disclosed this on Tuesday at Lekganyane’s trial before Justice Babs Kuewumi of the Federal High Court, Lagos.  The unnamed Nigerian man and Lekganyane will be arraigned, (she for the second time) before...

Engage In Female Genital Mutilation, Go To Jail– Aregbesola

Worried by the recent rating of Osun State as number one on the hierarchy of the six Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) most endemic states, the wife of Osun State Governor, Alhaja Sherifat Abidemi Aregbesola has warned perpetrators of the risk of going to jail. Addressing a press conference in Osogbo, Alhaja Aregbesola  expressed  sadness that despite efforts being put in place to eradicate the practice, the recent rating by the National Demographic Heath Survey (NDHS) calls...

Fourth Substitute Pilot To Take Place During Extra-Time In This Season’s FA Cup – From Quarter-Finals Onwards

This season’s FA Cup will pilot the use of a fourth substitute by teams, the Football Association has announced. Pending approval by the International Football Association Board, from the quarter-finals onwards clubs will be able to make an additional substitution during extra-time. The move follows the scrapping of sixth-round replays, meaning drawn matches will go straight to extra-time...

Police Arrest Girl, 18, Over Sale Of Own Baby

Operatives from the Enugu State Police Command said they have arrested one   Okike  Ezinne,18, from Isu  Mbaneze in Ohaozara Local Government Area of Ebonyi State, who is also the mother of an 18-month-old baby for allegedly selling the baby for N300,000. The state Police Public Relations Officer, Ebere Amaraizu who confirmed the incident, said that Ezinne told the police that she had the baby girl out of wedlock and decided to keep her, except that life...

New: Ex-President Jonathan Indicted In Fresh Corruption Charges

Former President Goodluck Jonathan has been implicated in fresh corruption charges laid against Governor Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo State.   The All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ondo State has accused embattled Governor Olusegun Mimiko of using N15b from the federation account to sponsor his election.   The APC also claimed that Goodluck Jonathan personally ordered the release of the funds to Mimiko for his re-election.   This is coming after former NSA adviser, Sambo Dasuki recently spoke about Goodluck Jonathan’s role in the arms...

Pep Guardiola Considers Playing Fernandinho At Centre-Back ‘To Create Good Build-Up Play’

Pep Guardiola has raised the prospect of using midfielders Fernandinho or Fernando at centre-half as the Manchester City manager sets out his plans to make the team more creative and stylish. Guardiola regularly deployed midfielders Yaya Toure and Javier Mascherano as centre-backs during his time at Barcelona and utilised the likes of Javi Martinez and Xabi Alonso in defence with similar success at Bayern Munich.

Three reportedly killed during Hausa-Yoruba clash in Lagos

Three persons were reportedly killed in a clash between the Hausa and Yoruba community at Ijora Badia area of Lagos state yesterday July 26th. According to Vanguard, trouble started when a man named Ojo was allegedly attacked and stabbed to death by some Hausa boys in the area. The Yoruba youths in the area staged a protest that became violent. "For long, these Hausa boys have been attacking people here. They waylay people, dispose them of cash and belongings....

FG Should Extend Amnesty Till 2019 For Sake Of Peace – Ex-militants

Former Niger Delta militant leaders have requested the Federal Government to extend the terminal date of the Presidential Amnesty Programme in the region to 2019.   The ex-militants, under the aegis of Leadership, Peace and Cultural Development Initiative, made the request at a news conference in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State capital, on Tuesday.   The National President, LPCDI, ‘General’ Reuben Wilson, (a.k.a Pastor Reuben) argued that the extension of the programme would provide an ample time for the beneficiaries of the programme studying abroad...