Dame Patience Faka Jonathan: One Persecution Too Many – by Obi Z.Uzondu

The ordeal which the former First Lady of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dame Patience Faka Jonathan has been made to go through in the anti corruption crusade of the Muhammadu Buhari administration is such that no other First Lady ever in the history of Nigeria has been subjected to. Her public and private lives have been seriously traumatized, turned upside down, and her ego seriously injured in what has now become very clear as utter demonstration of hatred, acrimony, and wickedness. May be what remains is for the security operatives to ransack her kitchen, stir her pot of soup to find out how many pieces of meat she cooks with. Or, probably strip her blouse to count how many stitches she carries on her stomach from the near life threatening surgery she went through – may be each stitch should have several millions of dollars price to it. Why would a government that has made strong promises about social change treat a woman who took in a lot of stress and pains, sacrificing personal comfort and energies, to serve the country, be subjected to such level of humiliation in the guise of fighting corruption? It must be remembered that there is no provision for the office of the First lady in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. So, Dame Patience Jonathan could not be facing investigation and prosecution in the capacity of occupying an “Office of the First Lady”. Nigeria has no constitutional provision for the “Office of the First Lady”. It becomes very worrisome as to which expenditure subhead she might have operated for which she should be held responsible and accountable.

What Nigerians are told to be recovery of looted funds could at best be a witch hunt and deliberate orchestration to malign, humiliate, oppress, disgrace, and suppress a defenceless woman, just because she happened to have been the wife of a man who came from a despised minority to become the President of the country in a circumstance which only God Almighty could have ordained – a circumstance that sent chill down their spines, because the situation under reference was so constitutionally studded, protected, and provided for that they never got the chance to subject him to signing his powers away in their usual blackmailing ‘agreement’ manner. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo was alleged to have signed “an agreement” for which certain leaders from that section of the country had always reminded and demanded of him to honour “the agreement he had with the North” – probably for which reason they supported his election. The foregoing, therefore, would only suggest that becoming Nigerian President was not necessarily about the entire country, but about a section of it.

So, with the above information, it would not be a surprise as to why almost ‘every political weapon’ was unleashed during the 2015 elections to make sure that the former President was muscled out of office. Goodluck Jonathan’s misfortune at the polls was as a result of conspiracy; and not because he was a failure or bad leader. Now that he is out of office and it has become clear that no corruption charges could be established or linked to him, all that they have resorted to do in that same ‘venom’ is to attack a soft target – his wife – Dame Patience Faka Jonathan. Almost everything that was said to have been established by her has been seized. For goodness sake, and for the sake of a sane nation ruled by sane people, mere private individuals have been able to establish companies and industries and employed staff and workers in large populations.

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Could a woman who had worked and risen to the position of retired Permanent Secretary in the Bayelsa state civil service, been wife of Deputy Governor, First Lady of a super oil rich state like Bayelsa, and finally serving as the First lady of the Federal Republic of Nigeria for close to seven years, not be able to establish private schools and build hotels? Corruption is not a new word in our politico-administrative lexicon. There are past Nigerian leaders whose tenure marked highest in the corruption ranking. Their wives had their own means of making huge money. As much as such leaders have never been probed or investigated, nothing has been said about the stupendous wealth their wives flaunted. Not even fingers of allegation have been pointed their directions.

It has often been argued that the worst corrupt people are those who steal public funds and launder them in foreign bank accounts. Up till moment, efforts are still made to repatriate funds believed to be part of what is known as ‘Abacha Loot’. Nigerians wished that all this money kept in foreign bank accounts was used by their owners to establish industries and sundry business outfits where our teeming population of unemployed school leavers and graduates could find jobs and employment. Nigerian economy would be the better off with minimal unemployment rate. Yet such people are allowed to escape through plea bargains.

Recently, the Nigerian media was awash with the story of a former first lady whose domestic staff made away with about 94 million naira. Some argued that the money was in dollars. Whatever the case – whether naira or dollars, the figure does not suggest any small amount – and it was just accessible to ordinary house help. Who knows what heavier figures had been missing without traces? People have established good business enterprises and employed Nigerians with less amount of money, yet a former first lady kept boxes of hard currencies for easy spending without investing them. That information was never investigated and the first lady was never called for questioning. But all that Muhammadu Buhari’s government is focused on is to persecute Dame Patience Jonathan for committing the money she has to establishing industries and providing employment for Nigerians. That is her offence! May be she should have kept the money somewhere to be spending it piecemeal. But she is a hard working woman with strong business orientation. The part of the country she comes from is business conscious, hard working, and very much enterprising. They are not such to pack bales of money in stores and houses, living lazy lives. Any Nigerian First lady who has known the unemployment challenges in the country, but would prefer to keep huge sums of money without establishing businesses to offer employment to job seekers, ought to be prosecuted.

It is rather disheartening that Nigerian leaders and opinion makers would keep silent while Dame Patience Jonathan is made to undergo such embarrassment and torture, just because she chose to invest her money as a way to alleviate poverty and provide employment to Nigerians. What then should be done to those who launder what they have or pack them up in stores for easy spending?

To think that this woman being so tortured is the wife of the most sacrificial, selfless, humane, and patriotic leader Nigeria ever had; the man whose right instincts and sound judgment gave chance for the present government to be in place, is really disheartening and very unfortunate. I have this hunch that the real target has always been former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, but the hypocrisy of the system, having failed to nail or implicate him in any probes, resorted to ransacking his wife’s hand bag. May be, coming from the Niger Delta – Ijaw minority tribe, ‘she has nobody’ as those who feel they own Nigeria would always say. She is, probably, a “national orphan”. This kind of insult could never be meted on ‘those who own Nigeria’.

When they were looking for the misappropriated ‘Arms Deal’ money from the former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, it was understandable to Nigerians. What money is lost in government that they are looking for from Dame Patience Jonathan? President Goodluck Jonathan had won international recognition and respect of great world leaders. This is what they seek to rubbish by the unprovoked and unreasonable persecution of the wife.

Being the wife of the President of Nigeria is enough to attract goodwill gifts, tips, and public relation fortunes her way. Some former first lady was rumoured to be receiving financial donations from oil rich state governors at the release of every monthly allocation. Whether there is truth in that rumour or not, succeeding government never made any case out of that. Above all, there are certain extents we should not drag a woman – a mother

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