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Patience Jonathan: When The Trappings Of First Ladyship Supersedes That Of Permanent Secretaryship – by Ayodele Daniel



dame-jonathan“If you come to fame not understanding who you are, it will define who you are” – Oprah Winfrey.

With the above wise saying by American Television personality, I recall that exactly a year ago on this day, July 12, the Bayelsa State Governor, Hon. Seriake Dickson, announced the appointment of the First Lady – Dame Patience Jonathan – as one of the seventeen new Permanent Secretaries in the state civil service to the astonishment of not a few Nigerians.

To justify her appointment, the government argued that the First Lady worked in the civil service of Rivers State before transferring her services to Bayelsa State when her husband became Deputy Governor of the state in 1999.

The government further posited that during her stint in the Bayelsa State Civil Service, Mrs. Jonathan rose through the ranks and was promoted into the directorate cadre as a level 15 officer in 2005. But by far the most plausible justification for the President’s wife’s appointment was the recourse to the constitutional power conferred on the state governor in section 203 sub-section 2c.

The purpose of this write-up is not to over-flog the issue but to take stock of ‘Her Excellency’s’ one year in office as a Perm Sec.

Based on my understanding, the Civil Service is hierarchical in nature with Permanent Secretaries reporting to Ministers (Commissioners, in the case of states), who in turn report to the President (state governors). Has the First Lady reported to anyone in the last one year? This is aside the fact that she was not even assigned a portfolio in the first place.

If the governor in his wisdom deemed her fit to be elevated to the rank of a Perm Sec., why didn’t he deem it fit to assign her a portfolio or is that also a matter of state secrecy? If the First Lady has not reported for duty once since her appointment, has she been sanctioned according to civil service rules (by the way, what happened to Abdulrasheed Maina?) or is she running her invisible office from the seat of power in Aso Rock?

While justififying her acceptance of the promotion to the office of a Permanent Secretary in the civil service, Mrs. Jonathan was quoted as saying, “When it suits them, they will say we don’t have office. Remember when I went to Lagos for peace advocacy, the Governor of Lagos State said that my husband should call me to order since my office is not in the constitution and that I have no office. Why now won’t I pursue my career that I am sure of?”

Really? In light of the above statement, one would have thought that Mrs. Jonathan would hit the ground running and leave the comfort of the Presidential Villa in Abuja for the mentally tasking and highly demanding job of Permanent Secretary in Bayelsa but alas, our dear ‘Mother of the Nation’ was speaking tongue-in-cheek as she prefers her more unconstitutional, yet powerful office of First Lady.

If she is not busy blocking most of the roads in Port Harcourt, Lagos and Asaba, she is either in Abuja trying to lobby billions for her African First Ladies Peace Mission (AFLPM) project or subtly leading campaigns for her husband’s rumoured second term bid.

But in all these show of absurdities, it is interesting to point out that at least, some women still have decorum, respect for the rule of law and would rather slowly but steadily climb the ladder of success based on hard work and dedication to duty not by political fiat or virtue of their powerful positions.

In this regard, Justice Fati Lami Abubakar readily comes to mind and stands in my opinion, heads and shoulders high above any of her predecessors and successors in office as First Lady. She was unassuming and rarely seen in public between 1998-1999 when her husband, General Abdulsalami Abubakar was Head of State, but that did not diminish her role as an efficient pillar of support and epitome of womanhood.

Justice Fati did not allow her temporary stint as First Lady to stand in the way of her career and this much was succinctly captured by the Liberian Orbit (May 28, 2001) which described her as “an erudite African female lawyer that had become First Lady of one of the most influential countries in the international system and did not fold her professional career into succulent retirement.”

Can this much be said of the present First Lady, who much is not known of her career as a civil servant but suddenly is catapulted to the enviable position of Permanent Secretary not because she is the most qualified but by virtue of her husband’s position?

While Justice Fati continued working 13-years after been Nigeria’s First Lady and only recently took oath of office as the first female Chief Judge of Niger state, one in a list of firsts (she is the first female lawyer, Solicitor General and Attorney General of Niger State respectively), Mrs. Jonathan’s busy racking-up the accolades and grabbing all in her path and I wonder, will she be such a force to reckon with let’s say, three-years after she must have forgotten what power tastes like? Will her name echo the sounds of greatness or will she just go the way of most of her predecessors, who faded into oblivion once the reins of power were no longer theirs to control?

After her husband’s tenure as President, which effectively brings her own tenure as First Lady to an end, will Dame Patience go back to the Bayelsa State civil service to work as a Permanent Secretary under a Commissioner and take instructions without bringing her larger than life attitude to bear?

The First Lady should realize that nothing lasts forever; that the power she wields now and the respect that comes with it will surely fade one day and with it comes the stark reality – that there is no joy and inner peace of mind in success that was not earned.

Therefore, Dame Patience should as a matter of honour and posterity, relinquish her undeserved post of Permanent Secretary till such a time that she can be physically present behind her desk to carry out the functions of that office or better yet, revert to her pre-2005 directorate cadre (level 15) as claimed and work her way to the top.

After all, nobody asked her to sacrifice her career on the altar of political exigencies.

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  1. afolake

    July 12, 2013 at 7:52 am

    When you have a ‘man leader’ that is so clueless, you can only have a ‘knowledge empty’ help mate that showcases her emptiness.

    There is nothing wrong in trying to be relevant as a first lady,but there is something wrong when you want to be recognised even when you are adding little or no value.

    I do not see hope in the generation of these leaders !

  2. Frankie

    July 12, 2013 at 9:25 am

    Pse get ur facts right. Wives of Presidents. Governors, Ambassadors, are allowed to take indefinite leave of absence from their places of work to stay with and help their husbands, especially in d areas of Protocol and entertainment and any other adhoc duties they may be assigned. It is a CSR gazzete that they should not loose promotion or other remuneration on account of such leave. U may ask d HOS of d federation for any clarification. All past presidents, governors( including military administrators) wives and even those wives who were in private businnesses promptly packed shop and relocated to govt houses. I am even told that all the colonial officers wives we’re entitled to this privilege which was also compulsory for their husbands to proceed on overseas postings with their families. So what have d Dame done wrong. It is d Governor dat promoted her when she was due, she didn’t rustle her way which she could have done since when d husband was Deputy Governor. Let’s respect our leaders and give peace a chance

    • Ken

      July 19, 2013 at 8:43 pm

      Thanks my brother. U hve well spoken. Don’t mind d idiot dat does not hve respect for leaders. If he/she were to b n first lady’s shoe, they will do s worst. Jobless elements looking for cheap blackmail.

  3. Frankie

    July 12, 2013 at 9:40 am

    For ur correction, Justice Fati Abubakar proceeded on d same leave when her husband was Head of State, she wasn’t terminated or retired, otherwise she wouldn’t be d CJ of Niger State today. Maybe u forgot dat she hurriedly founded and coord her pet project WRAPA, which became like all others before it, a colosal failure after draining over N3bn in one year

  4. Austino

    July 12, 2013 at 9:58 am

    Dis is a show of high level of misplaced priority in dis country’s leadership system

  5. Justice

    July 12, 2013 at 11:21 am

    I read your update severally to know what the first day has done wrong but I couldn’t find one,it was rather full of biased and sentimental sense of reasoning of which you keep using quips to cover up for it but it rather made you appear more of a one-sided activist.For me,I would never allow someone’s elses achievement to define(GEJ is her husband,yes!and for that she should just be lazy and parastically feed of it,the position as a first lady is temporal(ascribed position) while that of her work is her career,an achievement and her right.

  6. Cyril

    July 13, 2013 at 3:02 pm

    Mr Daniel Ayodele, don’t you think you’re been one sided in your write up?
    Get a life and stop this show of shame.

  7. D man

    July 14, 2013 at 12:55 am

    Brother, she did not ask for d post,it was given to herbx merit

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Who Will Explain Coronavirus To Buhari?



Coronavirus (COVID-19), an exorable doom, threatens life on the planet. It is exorable because it is conquerable. This explains why world leaders are taking the charge to combat this ominous apocalypse. It is a time for leadership from the fore-end; a time when citizens must hear their leaders speak to them; see them take action, making assurances and fulfilling those promises. The counsel, consolation and firm statement of a leader is imperative at this moment.

In Canada, Justin Trudeau, prime minister, despite being in self-isolation and his wife battling the virus after contracting it at a conference in the UK, is leading the fight against this dreaded disease from the fore. He is providing regular updates of the efforts of his government to roll back this scourge, listening and speaking to citizens.

In a popular broadcast on March 13, Justin spoke to citizens of Canada announcing measures to relieve the financial stress brought on by the pandemic on Canadians.

“We do not want any Canadian to have to worry about whether or not they’re going to be able to pay their rent, whether or not they’re going to be able to buy groceries, or care for their kids or elderly family members. We need to make sure that Canadians have the options and the ability to follow the best public health advice and keep themselves safe,” he said.

In the UK, Boris Johnson, prime minister, leads the struggle against coronavirus. He provides updates, alongside health experts, on the measures his government is taking to tackle the spread of the disease. And in the US, Donald Trump is not shying away from speaking to Americans on the virus.

As a matter of fact, President Muhammadu Buhari’s lapses are often easily dismissed by his supporters or by Nigerians who do not know better. Some of them say, ‘’ Why must the president speak when the minister of health and the NCDC DG are already doing that?” This is a contemptible rationalisation of incompetence. Are they suggesting the president lacks the capacitance to understand the issues?’’

Really, I surmise the president has been walled off the ‘’candid cameras’’ over the years by his handlers – not just now – because he lacks the intellectual propensity to understand and discuss incisive issues. The last presidential media chat he held was in 2015 and it was a woeful outing. Also, his non-choreographed media interviews have been abysmal to say the least.

The truth is the unfiltered Buhari is a vacuously gaffing one. On October 14, 2016, standing beside Angela Merkel, German chancellor, Buhari said his wife, Aisha, ‘’belonged in the kitchen and the other room’’, when he was asked to comment on the first lady’s criticism of his government.

On April 18, 2018, at the Commonwealth Business Forum in London, the president said the young citizens of the country he leads are lazy.

“More than 60 per cent of the population is below 30, a lot of them haven’t been to school and they are claiming that Nigeria is an oil producing country, therefore, they should sit and do nothing, and get housing, healthcare, education free,” he said during a panel appearance with world leaders at the forum.

In a February 2016 interview with UK Telegraph, Buhari dropped another clanger. He said the young citizens of his country have a knack for criminality and should not be granted asylum in the UK.

With the Buhari experience, it is indubitable that Nigerians must place a high premium on education — not just certificate – in choosing their leaders. The cost of electing leaders who do not have the intellectual grit to understand and handle matters is far too high.

The senate has asked the president to speak to citizens on this threat, and Nigerians are also asking the president to speak to them. This is an abnormality. Citizens must not beg to hear from their president. But because it is Buhari involved here, we have to beg and even excuse the crass inefficiency and vacuity.

Perhaps, the president is still trying to get a hang of it. I think he has ‘’capable handlers’’ who can break it down to him in ABC.

Mr President, speak to your citizens. The words of a leader are more resounding and assuring than the blandishment of proxies.

PS: Let’s follow all health protocol as advised by the NCDC.

• Wash your hands regularly with soap under running water.

• Cover your mouth and nose properly with handkerchief or tissue paper when sneezing and/or coughing. You may also cough into your elbow if a handkerchief is not available.

• Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing.

• Avoid self-medication, report to the nearest health facility when you experience any of the above-mentioned symptoms.

Fredrick Nwabufo is a writer and journalist.

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Sanusi: Once Upon An Emir, By Wole Olaoye



Dethroned Monarch, Sanusi

We are all potential Ex-es: ex-student, ex-director, ex-lecturer, ex-senator, ex-governor, ex-president, ex-oba, ex-emir…. The inimitable Zik famously reminded us when he had a spat with Ukpabi Asika that Ex was an inevitable prefix for any human being as was evidenced by the fact that a certain young man who would someday become an ex-Administrator, was the son of an ex-postmaster!

So, what’s so apocalyptic about Sanusi Lamido Sanusi joining the ranks of ex-potentates? Nothing? Everything! Don’t ever think that bell you are hearing is tolling for the former Emir of Kano. No. It could be signalling the beginning of a comprehensive demystification of traditional rulership by plebeians holding tenured political power. In centuries past, no plebeian messed with the traditional institution. The halo of nobility, the sheer vastness of a prince’s hereditary powers, rights and privileges, made the subject know his place.

Yesterday’s subjects are today’s political sovereign. They make no pretences to sophistication. They load a gun to kill a spider. When you dethrone a monarch and then deprive him of his liberty, forcefully banishing him to a place without electricity and potable water, you are playing god. If it was all a public relations Olympics, the calm dignity with which Sanusi handled the humiliation made people all over the world admire his chutzpa and hand him the gold medal. A

Life and its many puzzles! Why is it that for some men and women, “their sleep is taken away unless they cause some to fall”? What do you do about an ego that knows no satiation? As the Preacher in the Good Book timelessly says, “All the rivers flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full… The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear content with hearing… there is nothing new under the sun”.

The Yoruba have a poem that says just that. “The horse struts and frets and then dies. Being a veteran walker is no immunity to getting lost. Nothing new under the sun. I’ve seen kings reduced to slaves; and servants who mounted the throne. Haven’t my eyes beheld both river and sea? Haven’t I seen a hunchback on spindly legs, and a midget climbing a ladder to add condiment to the soup pot? Tell me, has anyone ever started a building from the roof?

The new Emir of Kano, Alhaji Aminu Ado Bayero, is a cousin of his predecessor. As royal intrigues go, when the dust is settled the sword will be sheathed and brother will embrace brother. That is the way of princes. Eventually, outsiders will realise that all they can ever be in palace politics is outsiders. Our very own Nobel prize winning Kongi was not amused by the scandalous extra-judicial detention of the former emir.

He put the emir’s travail down to his progressive stance: “Emir Sanusi was a one-man EFCC sanitisation squad in the banking system, taking on the powerful corrupters of that institution…. “Most important of all, and most pertinently for the nation, Sanusi was one of the early warning voices against religious extremism whose bitter fruits the nation is currently reaping….

The doors of enlightened society remain wide open to Muhammad Sanusi. As for his current crowing Nemesis, a different kind of gates remain yawning to receive him when, as must, the days of governorship immunity finally come to an end.” Support for Sanusi is not limited to radical voices.

Veteran technocrat Alhaji Ahmed Joda penned a panegyric in support of the ex-emir: “The purpose of this letter to you is not to commiserate with you, because I know that you must have known the likely consequences  of the principled position you have taken. The reality we must face in Northern Nigeria is that the evil forces of feudalism that have kept us in bondage for so long are still there and fighting. You have been the only voice that has been telling us this truth….”

It is easy to kick a man given a pin-fall by fate, or piss on the grave of a fallen warrior. Dead men don’t bite. Real friends show up when you are in life’s valley. Say what you will, I would rather have a friend like Nasir el Rufai when the chips are down. In the midst of all the turmoil, conspiracy theories have surfaced to the effect that the dethronement is but a political sleight-of-hand to propel Sanusi to Nigeria’s presidency in 2023. Caution! Let’s separate the issues. Political succession is totally different from fundamental human rights. Sanusi is not my next president.

My views on power rotation are well documented. The ex-emir will go down in history as a champion for the rights of the poorest of the poor. He advocated for a new Northern Nigeria where old backward practices such as the almajiri system and irresponsible parenting will be abandoned. His was the voice crying out in the desert, lift my people up from the cesspit of penury. The attempt to demonise him after dethronement through various allegations, including one on religious fundamentalism, is dead on arrival. The same fate will befall the vilification of El Rufai on account of his loyalty to Sanusi. Please quote me: Modern challenges can never be resolved with a resort to medieval solutions.

Christopher Hitchens’ Q&A may someday apply to the ex-Kings College boy who’s now an ex-king.

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Sanusi Dethronement: The North Only Beheads The Bearers Of Truth



Emir Sanusi

By Fredrick Nwabufo

Northern Nigeria is prostrate. It is the axis of uglies – banditry, insurgency, kidnapping, diseases, ignorance, and drug abuse. Alas! The region’s elite are aware of the problems, but look away because the disequilibrious status quo sustains them. What is petrifying, however, is that they maul and clobber at anyone who spits the truth in their faces.

I think, this is the mortal sin of Muhammad Sanusi II, emir of Kano – beyond his politics with Abdullahi Ganduje, governor of Kano.

But wait!

The World Bank says 87 percent of Nigeria’s poor are in the north. And that while poverty is plummeting in the south, it is rocketing in the upper region.

READ: Dethroned Sanusi Will Be Under House Arrest – Ganduje’s Aide

“Poverty in the northern regions of the country has been increasing especially in the north-west zone. Almost half of all poor lived in the north-west and the north accounts for 87 percent of all poor in the country in 2016,’’ the Bretton Woods institution said in its report entitled ‘Advancing social protection in a dynamic Nigeria’ in February 2020.

In August, 2019, the federal government revealed that 1,460 people were killed by bandits in seven months. And that the north-west is the worst-hit by this bloody enterprise. The killings have steadied, expanding in proportion and execution in the region.

In his accustomed manner, Sanusi recently vocalised these depressing figures of retrogression in the north – as regards the World Bank report — earning himself praise from progressive Nigerians and reprimand from the usual suspects — those stuck in the cesspit of bigotry.

Also, the gadfly emir of Kano, whom I regard as the John the Baptist of the north for his vociferous condemnation of this status quo, is alone in his advocacy against irresponsible polygamy, Al-majiri and child marriage – practices the northern elite espouse. He is the face of a progressive north; the northerner of the new age.

As a matter of fact, on different occasions he had complained about the northern elite whom he said wanted to silence him for speaking the truth about the region.

‘’Our colleagues and compatriots among the elite do not like statistics. Numbers are disturbing. I recently gave a speech in which I said the north-east and north-west of Nigeria are the poorest parts of the country. This simple statement of fact has generated so much heat; the noise has yet to die down. The response to this speech has been a barrage of personal attacks and insults aimed at silencing any voices that dare shine the light on the society to which we are saying Bring Back our Girls,’’ he said at a lecture held to commemorate the Chibok girls abduction.

READ: Sanusi Breaks Silence After Dethronement As Emir Of Kano (Video)

And I guess they can only take the throne away from him but cannot take away his royalty in the community of decent humans. Really, I believe the emir would rather give up his throne than be gagged by the shareholders of iniquity.

To say the least, Sanusi’s dethroning was not unexpected. Ganduje had always shown his hand in this plot. Really, the emir of Kano never hid his dislike for him. But what is there to like about a governor who was allegedly caught on camera stuffing wads of dollars into his babariga? In the build-up to the 2019 governorship election in the state, the emir was not shy in expressing his disapproval to Ganduje’s candidature.

So, Ganduje, who considers Sanusi a ‘’loud mouth’’, plotted a bitter revenge after he was re-elected. He had moved to remove the emir in 2018 but for the intervention of some ‘’higher powers’’. However, he whittle-down the power of the emir by creating new emirates from his domain. He was not done though. He rustled-up allegations, set up probe panels – all in the desperation to embarrass Sanusi.

But Sanusi was still talking.

Really, one of the most abrasive places to exist is in the circle of non-progressives. You talk different, think different or act different, they will feel threatened. Even when you try to clown around; the aboriginal clowns will still feel threatened because you do not look the part.

I think, Emir Sanusi is light-years away from the people he is dealing with in Kano government. He is needed more at the top echelon of government where he can contribute more meaningfully to the development of Nigeria.

Northern Nigeria is not ready for an emir like Sanusi. He is ahead of his time.

Fredrick Nwabufo is a writer and journalist.

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