I had a great laugh too watching the first lady’s video that went viral, especially the remix of the video featuring one former honourable member. Yes, it was funny and that was it! Then I read an article captioned ‘a forensic analysis of the first lady’s cry’, all aimed at castigating the first lady’s use of Pidgin English and the constitutionality of the office of the first lady. It is laughable that the writer still refers to her as the ‘first lady’ in his caption even while questioning her right to be addressed as that. The 1999 constitution does not recognize the office of the 1st lady and neither does the American constitution, however the term “first lady” is used by both countries and by many other countries we would want to model Nigeria after. This position is recognized as a de facto affiliation to the presidency and this simply means that it is founded upon common and general practice, created or developed and not contrary to any regulation. That is to say, that recognition of the office of the first lady would be a problem if it contradicted any law or legislation.

Michelle Obama who many name in contrast to Patience Jonathan is the forty-sixth official first lady of the United States which means that even the United States associate with this common practice. People like Eleanor Roosevelt, Rosalynn Carter and Hillary Clinton all wore the first lady tag during their husbands’ tenure in office. It might also be useful to mention that the office is funded from the presidency and this has been so in Nigeria with all past heads of state and Presidents from Azikiwe till date.

Dame Patience convening a meeting in that capacity then, should not be voided on the grounds that it is unconstitutional as the meeting is legitimate. In answer to the issue of legitimacy, two questions come to mind, who convened the meeting and who did the meeting reach out to? In response to both questions, I borrow the words of the critics to say that it was convened “for a set of ladies who call themselves first ladies”. Soyinka being knowledgeable can choose to call them an ‘association’. Having answered in that context, it is pertinent to emphasize that Nigeria by its enshrinement of the ‘Universal Declaration on Human Rights’ into the constitution upholds freedom of association. This is the right of people to join or leave groups as they choose, and for the group to take collective action to pursue the interests of its members. It is both an individual right and a collective right, guaranteed by all modern and democratic legal systems. Bearing this in mind, the first lady’s meeting obviously reached out to first ladies of states and these first ladies have neither complained about the association nor their meetings and have chosen of their own free will to be part of the group. In clear indication of a willingness to be part of this group, the first lady of Borno state who was unavoidably absent, sent a representative, showing an interest in the #bringbackourgirls campaign brought before them as an association.

A senior advocate who recently rejected the invitation to be part of the constitutional committee set up by the President was also quick to quote laws on the unconstitutionality of the panel set up by Dame Patience. With due respect to the learned silk, I find this a misconception, the situation at hand is one of national security were all citizens ought to give reasonable assistance to help address the menace of insecurity. Dame Patience did not approach the legislative arm of government to implement the recommendations of a fact finding committee nor did she order the deployment of military personnel to Borno, she only tried to contribute to the issue at hand.

On the issue of questions raised by the first lady, questions must be asked for problems to be solved. America in volunteering to help has mentioned the need for a forensic test where scientists will be deployed to capture biometric data, linking the biological parents to their children. Nobody has seen that as an indirect way of seeking information, right? But we quickly blame the first lady for asking questions.

We are in the digital age where twitter, facebook, mobile apps are available for us to make helpful opinions and suggestions in times like this. I did laugh at the video and will still laugh at its comic value but beyond that, we should see the deep desire and passion to bring back our girls. Even if the tears were fake as some people have said, we should still be moved. Majority of us have been emotionally affected merely watching paid actors and actresses in the past, why then can we not be moved by the first lady’s tears especially as we have no way of knowing certainly if they were real or not. We need to refocus on the core issue at hand which is to get our children back, the constitutionality of the first lady’s office and her expression or lack of is secondary to this.

We should continuously find out ways we can help, discover what roles to play or even simply pray for our nation. This isn’t a time to cast blames or even ridicule Dame Patience, these will not solve our problems. There really is God and he is the only exalter, who knows, YOU might be the next leader he exalts, (laughs) then Nigeria might become a better place and I won’t be writing this.





9 thoughts on “BEYOND THE JOKES

  1. I just had an argument with someone some moments before this article was posted and I said virtually everything up there.. I wonder why the riddicle of Madam 1st lady will over-shadow the very important message she was trying to pass. We need to find a way to censor materials we use for jokes ooo. Madam 1st lady made her point. If we like,let us listen.

  2. Interesting dimension to the gist. But I beg to disagree. Try as much as this writer did, he couldn’t justify Madam First Lady’s actions, at least to me. The use of the presidential facilities for a meeting convened by an unconstitutional / social position should have contravened the conflict of interest policy. Nneoma should be able to go to the villa and hold her own meeting. No be so? But that is even aside. I will tackle this issue from the perspective of motive. People need to realise this; Mrs Jonathan didn’t do what she did cos she loved those children or their family. She is interested in justifying or looking for an evidence to justify the fact that the whole kidnap was a charade targetted at bringing down her huabands govt. Hence she was out to prove it as a politically motivated if at all there was a kidnap. Else, what warranted her asking the protests to be disbanded even when she had no evidence to prove there no kidnaps. How come she ordered police to arrest one of the female protesters? Again, I ask, until the protests left the social media and landed on the streets, how come madam 1st lady and her it took husband 3 weeks, focus of international attention on Nigeria and street protests before they could do or say something. It can then be said that, if the international media didn’t turn on us, and the protest didn’t get to the street, NOTHING would have been done!! Remember the 56 students of FGC Burni Yadi? Remember several other kidnaps? A concerned mother would have been screaming. But no, it took pressure from within and beyond before she put up a charade of a show. The truth is, her sincerity of purpose was questionable. But beyond all these, Nigerians are basically responding to their frustrations and disenchantement with bad governance and the lack of authority to protect them. People are then looking for scape goats to make mockery of, as a means of venting their frustrations with govt. People in authority as represented by Mrs Jonathan are prime targets. In anothee scope, citizens now resort to self help. We now lynch suspected kidnappers; local communities protect themselves, there is now civilian JTF etc. If govt was up to its Responsibility, Nigerians would have taken Mrs Jonathan seriously. For now, the video and it’s remixes will remain comic relief to me.

    1. @chinedu I do commend your line of argument especially the last few paragraphs. Well said!! But I will disagree with some analysis you have raised.
      1. Presidential facility: Unless I get it wrong, facility is a place, piece of equipment provided for a particular purpose. I want to believe that all conference rooms within the villa are accessible to her as the wife of the president. I would have been more surprised if the Union jack and the Nigerian flag were positioned behind her or even if the seal of the president was right before her. She did not in any way insinuate convening the meeting ‘’on behalf of Mr President’’ rather it was tagged ‘female stakeholders’.
      I even want to believe now that it is in discharge of her duty that this meeting was held. Look at it from the perspective that her office is run from the coffers of Nigeria then you will agree with me that she is doing a duty the Nigerian state spends on her to do (lol).
      2. Assuming but not conceding the seat for Mr President, or anything exists known as Mr Jonathan’s facility, does that vitiate the legality of the meeting? When it has not been held in an executive or legislative capacity?? I do not think so. This issue of acting as if she was Mr President would have really held water if she comes up tomorrow and order the national assembly or the country is handled based on her findings.
      3. Police Arrest: This remains my problem with social media because anything that sniffs out and once negative, sells faster. Are you aware that a press statement was made by the Media assistant to the first lady that ‘she did order arrest for impersonation’ which was corroborated by the Police who stated that the lady was an impersonator simplicita. The lady Naomi Mutah previously led a 500 women march to the National assembly as leader of the missing children’s parents. On sighting her, she was asked to narrate her story and she turns around to say she is a representative now bearing the name ‘Grace’. It was just a case of her cup spilling over that day because am aware a lot of people making noise today are not in it because they love the children or they care but because of various political interest (I can prove that statement).
      The lady anyway is a civil servant and can come out openly to defend herself if the story was a sham… You don’t wonder why she is yet to??? Trust me even opposition will protect her to do so in the government of today but still she is yet to….. (she impersonating seems more true than false… why only she?)
      4. As regards her actions being calculated at saying no kidnap happened, I rather take the morality line of action to state it was not true. Nobody will ever know her heart if not God. If anybody claims to, maybe that person should tell us also the situation in the forest… She asked a question that would aid the situation at hand. Remember the Government led by Goodluck, some days before then set up a committee and even till last week stated the fact that the presidency is yet to receive a list of registered students in the school and all. I will agree with you at the slow pace in which response was made but going further that it was aimed at discrediting the kidnap is not true.
      5. Once again your final views on Nigerians looking for scape-goats, I agree but we can do more by not joining the train to foster chaos and anarchy rather look for a way out. This is democracy, if you think the president is not doing well, call on your representatives to commence an impeachment process and if the representatives refuse, legally you can re call him. Let the revolution start from home!!

  3. @annonymous I’d only take you on point 4 and state that the more we talk about this issue of non-release of the data of students the more the incompetence of our government is exposed otherwise how do you explain that a state under emergency rule in which the security apparatus is controlled by the Nigerian Army answerable only to the president is yet to gather the names of the students, and a committee had to be set up for that purpose. if our government is sincere the names of those students wouldn’t be an issue at all. there ought to have been other ways to retrieve them especially now that the region is under siege and the presidency is involved. that show by our first lady did them more harm than good. the questions she raised albeit in a pedestrian manner goes to no issue. You do raise such issues at a public fora when as first lady or so-called mama peace you are supposed to be seen as caring and emphatetic. did she tell you she’d ever reached out to the parents? between the parents of the kids and the school management, which was prefarable and indeed ranking in priority to meet? hapu kene okwu a ka mmadu zuo ike, let these girls be returned safely while our government struggles to retain or preserve whatever dignity is left in them

  4. Let me also add that this article, tried as hard as it could, was more philiosphical than real. It seemed that the writer’s intention was to add a dimension to the whole story, but I daresay that no such message was passed. The reality of the whole thing is that some girls went missing and our government both local and federal decided to play politics with the rescue of the kids rather than adopt some form of synergy and pragmatic approach and in the heat of the whole drama, our first lady and I don’t care if she had a degree in english or not, decided to riddicule her husband and indeed the government with that show of shame called fact finding meeting. #BringBackOurGirls is all that matters to me

  5. We are not finding faults. We are pointing out gaps in several arguments trying to justify Mr and Mrs Jonathan’s actions. There is one indisputable fact; and that is, that this government has let Nigerians down and currently made us a thing of ridicule before the international community. You cannot wish away these fault findings because in Igbo we say; ‘Onye kpalu nku aruru juu si ngwere putalu ya olili’. He who harvests wood filled with ants has sought the company of the lizard. We live in a country that is in dire need of repair. Citizens have lost patience and you can see with the happenings around us, cynic citizens, people seeking help and solace in new things. Self help is now the order of the day.
    Back to the Chibok issue, we have all heard the theories. Some say it is a plot by the North to get GEJ out of power(which informs PEJ’s interference and attempts to justify this point of view) and the other a clear idea that mr president is incompetent. Whichever side one is; one thing is clear; every right thinking, objective person knows that this government has failed us. There were warnings before the kidnap; the Burni Yadi massacre, the several onslaught on Borno as well the confrontations with girls. Aren’t they enough warnings to any government to sit up? If there are Northerners behind these whole shenanigans, isn’t presidential power enough capacity to find those who are behind this and send them to jail? has our president suddenly become powerless? Are we saying that in the face of aggression, we will keep playing politics? yes, politics is the reason why it took 3 weeks – valuable time that could have helped us make progress – before there was presidential response. No, in the face of aggression, we first analyse whether it is politically motivated before intervening. Is it a PDP president or a Nigerian president? I can understand the trappings of power, but at the expense of innocent citizens who are struggling to escape the poverty and helplessness bad governance has thrust us into. People working hard to be a local government unto themselves since government has failed.
    I won’t say more, but anyone trying to justify presidential failure with some clumsy reason is not being realistic. Why? The single reason for power is to protect the citizens. In this regard, government has failed us. My government is just trying to wish BH away. Whatever be the case, #BringBackOurGirls

  6. the most important thing is to pray for Nigeria and d gals shld b brought back.all these arguments are not necessary abeg…

    1. some clear thinking by anonymous lawyer, in d midst of all d noise. chidimma i think u totally miss d point. praying & leaving all else is exactly d reason why we’re where we are today. nigeria is d most prayerful country on earth!

  7. I hold the strong view that the critics of the First Lady have made their vivid points. No matter how ingenious the anonymous writer may try to sway the wave of public opinion, the fact remains that the odds against her are very outstanding.

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