The position of the First Lady in the constitution of many countries has no mention or any clearly defined role. Gender equality activists opine that the writers of these constitutions are mostly male chauvinists who feel the womenfolk are to be seen and not heard. Notwithstanding its silence, the occupier of the highly esteemed office is supposed to grace it with sufficient panache befitting of it.
In 2010, it was not surprising to political pundits when Laurent Gbagbo the then Ivorian President refused to hand over power to his major challenger, Alassane Quattara who did the unthinkable by defeating an incumbent in a keenly contested election. It is the tradition of African rulers to cling on to power even when the popularity tide swings against them. What watchers did not bargain for was the role of Simone Gbagbo in the whole furore. She entrenched herself as a key member of her husband’s cabinet and headed killer squads that raped and murdered citizens in their thousands in the post-election violence that followed as a result of her husband’s intransigence. She infamously became a local clone of Lady Macbeth who was the Prima Dona that was in reality the de facto ruler. The long arm of the law eventually caught up with her when an Ivorian court sentenced her to twenty years behind bars for her ignoble role in the needless carnage. It is instructive to note that the government refused to transfer her to the International Crimes Court where her husband is currently standing trial for his role. The judicial system of the former French colony is really strong to have secured such a local conviction.
Dame Patience Jonathan is gradually toeing the path of the now disgraced Simone as she is too pig headed to learn from history. Her husband, President Jonathan in the presence of former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan signed a peace accord not to perpetrate election violence which has been the bane of elections in Africa. It beats the imagination of any right thinking individual for the first lady notorious for her peculiar use of the English language which makes her more of a comedian to hurl invectives at the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, General Muhammadu Buhari. She called him brain dead at a rally In Lokoja opining that as an old man he had no business seeking the highest political office in the land. Nelson Mandela was 76 when he became the first post-apartheid President of South Africa. Ronald Reagan was 69 going on 70 when the leadership of Uncle Sam beckoned on him. Sir Winston Churchill made a comeback to Number Ten Downing street in his mid-70’s and is one of the greatest leaders Great Britain has ever had. How preposterous was the cruel remark of the Dame!
To make matters worse, she called on her supporters to stone anyone that chants the change slogan of change at a Calabar rally. That was a clear incitement to violence given the already tense and charged atmosphere in the country. The biting unemployment, worsening hunger and skyrocketing poverty in the clime might see disgruntled elements take heed to the ill advice of the First Lady. It is sad that none of the President’s campaign handlers has come out publicly to chide the First Lady for such a hate-filled statement.
At a Sokoto rally where she was represented by the Minister for Women’s Affairs, Zainab Maina, she declared that the ruling PDP would remain in power for the next sixty years. How explosive! We remember the violence that occurred in the northern part of the country after the 2011 elections. Why would she make a statement that confers the status of the Divine Right of Kings on the PDP that has not lived up to expectation in the delivery of the goods? It was a tacit incitement to violence as power smooth power transfer has been a thorny issue in the country. Why needlessly dig up old wounds?
It is commendable that the APC has made a formal complaint to the International Crimes Court over the stoning statement. The maturity displayed by the major opposition party is a rarity as it chose not to join issues with a woman that is acting like a motor park tout. She has really demeaned the office of the First Lady of the most populous black nation in the world and has surreptitiously made the ‘Giant of Africa’ an international laughing stock.
It is our hope that there is a follow up to the APC complaint while still keeping our fingers crossed that no violence should happen as a direct or indirect consequence of that reckless statement. There is no constitutional immunity covering the office of the First Lady and we should not be surprise if she has to answer summons from the ICC even while her husband is still in office.
It is high time she is called to order and made to realize that living in a civilized society requires certain mores and norms. The zoo where the like of her ilk should be is just a stone throw away.
Views expressed are solely author’s opinion and has no association with www.omojuwa.com nor its associates