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

Parents in panic as YABATECH Undergraduate Goes Missing.

An undergraduate of the Yaba College of Technology, Emmanuel Kolade, is said to be missing. Emmanuel, who is studying Computer Engineering at the school, left his parents’ home on Awolumate Street, Ajuwon, Ogun State, on November 11. His whereabouts had remained unknown since then. The 32-year-old man was a part-time student of YABATECH and also worked in Computer Village, Ikeja, where he repaired phones. His father, Mr. Adeniyi Kolade, told Punch that Emmanuel, his fifth child, left for his workplace on...

UPDATE: South Korean President, Park Geun-hye has been impeached.

South Korean lawmakers on Friday impeached President Park Geun-hye, a stunning and swift fall for the country's first female leader amid protests that drew millions into the streets in united fury.   After the vote, parliamentary officials hand-delivered formal documents to the presidential Blue House that stripped Park of her power and allowed the country's No. 2 official, Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn, to assume leadership until the Constitutional Court rules on whether Park must permanently step down. The court has up...

JUST IN: Two bomb blasts kill 10 in Madagali town market, BokoHaram blamed

Police say two explosions have ripped through a market in northeast Nigeria's Madagali town, and a survivor says they killed at least 10 people.   Boko Haram Islamic extremists are blamed for the attack Friday morning on the edge of the group's Sambisa Forest stronghold, which Nigeria's military has been bombing ahead of ground assaults.   Since the military has dislodged the extremists from towns and villages this year, the insurgents have been attacking soft targets.   Survivor Ahmadu Gulak says the two explosions struck...

Oil prices rise ahead of meeting of OPEC and non-OPEC producers

Oil prices extended gains on Friday on optimism that non-OPEC producers would agree to cut output following a cartel agreement to limit production.   The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) will meet non-OPEC nations in Vienna on Saturday to seek their help in curbing a global supply glut.   Azerbaijan already said it would come to the Austrian capital armed with proposals for its own reduction.   Brent sweet crude for February delivery was up 17 cents at $54.06 a barrel after settling up...

Bolivian aviation official reveals Chapecoense plane crash cover-up

While the air traffic control official warned that there would not be enough fuel to reach their destination, she had no authority to stop it before it crashed in Medellin Celia Castedo, a Bolivian aviation official, has revealed that she was "harrased and pressured" into covering up the truth behind the Chapecoense airplane crash which killed 71 passengers and injured six others.   Ms Castedo told Bolivian media that she had previously warned that the plane did not have enough fuel...

Vehicle Importation Ban – Dealers plead for review.

Car dealers in Kano have appealed to the Federal Government to review the law banning the importation of used cars into the country through its land borders. Alhaji Sani Yaro, a prominent dealer of used cars at Olu Obasanjo Way in Kano, said that even before the ban, they were struggling to save the business. He explained that it was indeed a government policy that brought about the ban, yet they urged the Federal Government to think of their plight...

My husband shaved my hair for rituals, wife tells court

A Customary Court in Mapo, Ibadan, on Friday dissolved the five-year-old marriage between Mr Olumide Asogbon and her wife, Idowu, a mother of two, over threat to her life. Idowu had told the court that her husband was threatening her life by shaving some portions of her hair and using it for spiritual purposes. She also alleged that Asogbon claimed that she infected him with HIV/AIDS and gonorrhoea. The President of the court, Mr Ademola Odunade, held that Idowu and Olumide...

Ghana opposition leader wins presidential election, radio stations say.

Ghana's main opposition leader, Nana Akufo-Addo, has won the west African country's presidential election with an absolute majority over President John Mahama, two influential private radio stations said on Friday. In his first comment since the election, Mahama said on Twitter on Friday he would wait for official results, in a seemingly softer tone from Thursday when a senior member of his National Democratic Congress (NDC)camp said Mahama was ahead. "Let's allow EC (Electoral Commission) to carry out its constitutional mandate....

Indonesian soldier found alive two weeks after helicopter crash

A soldier has been found alive two weeks after an Indonesian army helicopter he was travelling in crashed, killing three people, the military said on Friday. The helicopter went down in a ravine in northern Indonesia on Nov. 24 while carrying supplies to military posts near the border with Malaysia. Armed forces spokesman Brig.-Gen. Sabrar Fadhilah said Second Lt. Yohannes Saputra was found on Thursday in a nearby village with injuries to his arms, waist and legs. “He was extremely weak...

Iwobi Needs To Score More Goals – Ian Wright

Arsenal legend Ian Wright has advised Super Eagles forward Alex Iwobi to step and improve on his goal sense and  score goals on a more regular basis. Iwobi scored his first goal of the season for Arsenal in their 4-1 win against Basel in Tuesday's UEFA Champions League match-day 6 tie. The 20-year-old got Arsenal's fourth after Lucas Perez had scored a hat-trick. Last season, he scored two goals after breaking into Arsenal's first team. Speaking on BT Sport, Wright said: “That’s...

Wizkid Cancels his Homecoming Concert

Wizkid is heartbroken! He has released a statement that states he has cancelled all his shows scheduled to hold this December and January 2017 because his doctors have advised him to. Wizkid said he has been on the road touring and doing what he loves for two years non stop and now, it's all catching up on him. You recall Wizkid was to host his homecoming concert at the end of the year in Lagos, a concert he promised...

Funke Akindele signs endorsement deal with fashion outfit

The contemporary Afro-European label, Ayo Van Elmar has unveiled celebrated Nigerian actress Funke Akindele as their new face. Speaking about the brand Funke Akindele said, “I am delighted to be the face of Ayo Van Elmar, an aspiring global fashion brand with international standard. It’s great relief for me in particular knowing that I can patronize our made in Nigeria fashion pieces and still look classy’’. Highlighting the rationale behind the arrangement, Ayo Elizabeth Olaogun, the Creative Director of Ayo...

Ex-NSA Sambo Dasuki calls for accelerated hearing of his trial

The former National Security Adviser (NSA), Sambo Dasuki has called on the Supreme Court to accelerate his trial. According to Vanguard, Dasuki also said he had earlier lodged two appeals against his continued detention. In a letter to the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen, the ex-NSA, through his lawyer, J.B. Daudu (SAN), asks the apex court to quickly determine his appeals.   An excerpt of the letter reads: “The same government having breached his right to fair trial by...

BREAKING: Cross River gov, Ayade, wins at Supreme Court

The Supreme Court on Friday affirmed Prof. Ben Ayade  of the Peoples Democratic Party as the governor of Cross River state.   Joe Agi, also of the PDP, had asked the court to sack Ayade over false declaration of age but the apex court justices held that Agi could not prove the allegation against the governor. Details Later…

Nigerian Air Force Promotes 78 Senior Officers

The Air Force Council has approved the promotion of 78 senior officers to the next higher ranks in the Nigerian Air Force. The promotions comprise 14 Air Vice Marshals, 19 Air Commodores and 45 Group Captains. Those promoted to the rank of Air Vice Marshal include the Air Component Commander OPERATION DELTA SAFE, Paul Dimfwina; Commander Presidential Air Fleet, Saddiq Kaita; Director of Legal Services at the Defence Headquarters, Mahmoud Ahmed; Chief of Accounts and Budget at Headquarters Nigerian Air...

73-year old Mick Jagger welcomes 8th child with his 29-year old girlfriend

A rep for Jagger released a statement confirming the birth of the rocker's son. The rep said: “Melanie Hamrick and Mick Jagger’s son was born today in New York and they are both delighted”.“Mick was at the hospital for the arrival.” The rep added that both Hamrick, who is more than 40 years Jagger’s junior, and the baby are “doing well,”   The rep added: “We request that the media respect their privacy at this time.”   The couple began dating in 2014, after his...

Mercy Akide-Udoh: My kids will never play for Nigeria

Former Super Falcons striker, Mercy Akide-Udoh, has said her children will never play for Nigeria, as long as the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) continues to treat players poorly. Akide-Udoh emerged the first ever African Women Footballer of the Year in 2001 and was named in the FIFA World All-Star in 2004. The 41-year-old was reacting to the face-off between the current Falcons squad and the NFF over unpaid bonuses and allowances despite winning the 2016 African Women Cup of...

Super Falcons: SERAP Drags FG, NFF to UN

A human rights group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, has petitioned the UN Working Group on the issues of discrimination against women in law and in practice. He, therefore, requested the body to use its mandate and position to urgently order the Nigerian government and the Nigerian Football Federation, NFF, to clear the allowances of Super Falcons. In the petition dated December 7 2016, and signed by SERAP’s executive director, Adetokumbo Mumuni, the group pointed out that it was...

Police Arrest Five for Circulating Fake US Dollars, Euro

The Police in Enugu have arrested five suspects, including a female juju priestess, for printing and circulating fake U.S. dollars and for swindling unsuspecting members of the public. The Police Public Relations Officer in Enugu State Command, Mr. Ebere Amaraizu, said in a statement in Enugu on Friday that the police operatives in Emene Division caught two of the suspects – Emeka Udebusor and Erick Ekete, both of Nchantancha Nike community -suspects following a tip off on December 4. He...

Chapecoense Change Club Crest to Honour ‘Eternal Champions’ Who Died

Two stars have been added to the badge - one to mark their Copa Sudamericana award and one to commemorate the lives lost Chapecoense have added two stars to their badge as part of their tributes to those lost in an air disaster late last month. The plane carrying the Chapecoense squad, technical commission and a number of journalists for the first leg of the Copa Sudamericana final crashed en route to Medellin two days before the match was due to take place, killing 71 people...

JAMB Closes Admissions Into Federal, State Universities

The Registrar of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, JAMB, Prof. Ishaq Oloyede, on Thursday disclosed that the board has officially closed the 2016 admissions into all federal and state universities. He, however, announced that admissions to polytechnics, monotechnics, colleges of education and private universities have been extended from December 1 to December 15, 2016. “All tertiary institutions and the general public are hereby informed that the 2016 admissions exercise into public universities closed on Wednesday November 30, 2016. However,...