2023: Where Is Patience Jonathan? – By Lasisi Olagunju
She was famously called Mama Peace. If there was anything in the Goodluck Jonathan presidency that many have missed, it was the no-nonsense voice of Mrs Patience Faka Jonathan, the president’s wife. She was never afraid to take a position on anything even when her husband dithered. I remember her very often these days, especially now that her husband is on the train going to 2023. I missed what would have been her shrill cries when her son, Nyesom Wike, was facing the fire of PDP’s primary at the weekend. Wike pleaded that he was “the only one who can win APC” and should be sent to “go and win APC.” He was ignored by the principalities and powers whose enforcement job is to dip the arse of the uncooked in hot water. His billions fetched him defeat. Wike should not have forgotten who made him governor. He should have gone to that Abuja war with his Mama P who knows how to pronounce the names of the enemy.
She will mount the rostrum again. I can’t wait. On March 28, 2022, terrorists attacked a train in Kaduna, killed many passengers and abducted scores, including pregnant women. There has been calm everywhere in the Villa despite the tragedy. If Mama Peace had been the Iya Gbogbo (mother of all) in Aso Rock when that bad thing happened, she would have yelled thunder and lightning and told those ‘sharing’ innocent blood that “God will descend here today, today.” She would have banged the table and wept. When Chibok happened to Nigeria eight years ago, Dame did not escape to a gilded palace in Dubai or to the creeks of Okrika. Our First Lady sat up. She summoned the Borno State Police Commissioner; she summoned the Divisional Police Officer for Chibok; she subpoenaed the Borno State Commissioner for Education, the Local Government Chairman, the school principal and even the school gate man. She frog-jumped everyone to Abuja and in tears held an Orderly Room Trial for the suspects right there in the Villa. You remember her famous “there ris God o”? She wanted the truth, and when her granite gaze could not squeeze it out, she yelled and wept and the Internet caught fire. The video of that scene was the most viewed that season. With the abduction of those pregnant women in Kaduna, Mama Peace would have summoned her “daughter” (aka wife of the governor of the troubled state), brought out her white handkerchief and released a torrent of tears of deliverance. Everyone would have stood up in solidarity with her pains. As First Lady, she filled her space and added her husband’s seat to hers. No torchbearer dared flash impudence into her tiger’s eyes. Mama was a man; we miss her. But we may not miss her for more than one more year: her husband, Dr. Jonathan, is coming and with the snail shall come its shell.
A court case in Yenagoa, Jonathan’s state capital, last week kitted the ex-president with legal muscles to contest for Nigeria’s presidency next year. Jonathan was the mystery first defendant in that case. Those who went to court sought to disqualify him from contesting again for the nation’s top job. They said because he took over from a dead president and had taken the oath of office more than once, he must retire forever. The fact that the case was conceived in secret, birthed in utmost secrecy and heard ex parte did not preclude Jonathan from having his lawyers there. How much contribution did Jonathan make into the preparation of that case? Tortoise did something similar: he asked his wife to use his belly to grind pepper; it was his get-away strategy from an implacable creditor. Many wonder if Dr. Jonathan no longer reads his ‘The Lord’s Prayer’, particularly the verse that prays God to “deliver us from evil.” Jonathan should not have fallen into the temptation of ruinous ambition. I trust Madam Patience; the system would not get her so cheaply.
The primaries started days ago in both APC and PDP. We saw bullets and shattered limbs in Lagos; bulldozer dollars in Abuja; withdrawals and accusations in Kebbi; defections, defeat and rejections across the states. There are too many angry people everywhere there is a political party. We miss the mother of the nation at this time. She would have owned the moment; would have looked the angry in the eyes and told them to “keep kwayet!” Now, she must be preparing for the epic battle of the APC primary. Her husband will be there; she may be there to glare down troublemakers. She will give unto Caesar whatever Caesar demands on that day. And she can be generous. You saw on the Internet the wife of the governor of Kogi State taking very good care of her security details: a million naira per head. Dame Patience was in South Korea in October 2013 to receive a gleaming doctoral degree. She got the honour and dropped a golden advice for the miserly. She told her audience: “My grandma used to say ‘Whatever little you have, share. If you have a thousand and you can’t share, you won’t share a million if you have.’” The way Plato learnt at the feet of Socrates, the governor’s wife is probably a student of the former First Lady.
Now, the airwaves suffer the violence of political restiveness. We are told Madam’s Goodluck Jonathan is coming again to be born from the womb of the enemy –the APC. Some people do not want power outside their bedroom for more than four years. Jonathan is the only one outside their compound crippled by the law to spend just four years and exit the Villa. That is the attraction and the reason he has to come back; a viceroy of today’s power abductors. And he appears thrilled by the scent of what he forgot in the Villa seven years ago. That is why I asked where Mama Peace is in this journey to the forest of the heartless. She has been very quiet and absent. But she can’t be under the duvet of silence anymore. Her husband needs her guidance out of the minefield he may have walked himself into. Nigeria of 2022 is a much more treacherous (and dangerous) one than the one her family left in Aso Rock in 2015.
But what about if Madam Patience herself was the enabler of the husband’s ambition? That won’t shock me; it will only remind me of the fairytale of the fisherman and his wife. You remember Apejalodo, the man who caught a magical fish, and the fish asked him to let it live? He was kindhearted and granted the fish’s prayer. The fish reciprocated by asking him to make three demands: “Ask and it shall be given unto you.” But the fisherman had no desires, no wishes and he told the fish so as he let it go. Fisherman got home and told his wife what had happened; but from her was a scornful look. The wife said she had wishes and wanted the fish to grant those wishes. The husband didn’t want what the wife wanted; he was an unwilling beggar. Husband had given his word to the fish that he was satisfied with the life he was living. But wife was a firebrand that burnt anything in the way of her desires. She made the husband go back on his word and to the fish he went back and forth after every wish was granted. She wanted wealth; the fish gave the family riches. She wanted a mansion; the fish granted them a palace. She wanted children, she had male and female. Then she wanted to control the rising of the sun and its setting. Disgusted Fish told Fisherman that he and his wife were godless greedy ingrates who wanted to be God. They lost all they gained and were left with their old poverty in their small house. I hope this story has any meaning to anyone.
The PDP had its presidential primary at the weekend. As I said last week, it was a night of daggers and dollars; a time to choose between good money and nationalism. Ask the Igbo aspirants how many Igbo delegates voted for them. Ask how many of them did not vote for Abubakar Atiku and Wike. Dollar is sweeter than kinship. The APC will have its own bazaar soon if Goodluck Jonathan’s consensus hurricane allows it. We are hearing rumours of the ex-president’s sponsors bludgeoning their old allies to ‘clear way’ for the one who will spend four inattentive years; two of the years will be expended on settling down, the remaining two years to prepare for ejection. The ruling party is a filthy house of infidelity. Some people sleep around for pleasure; some for power and the money it brings. The Greek had many philanderers in their pantheon. Aphrodite, the most beautiful goddess of Mount Olympus, was the centre of that universe of insouciance. She was the goddess of love, beauty, pleasure and procreation. The goddess of pleasure slept with as many gods as she could attract; she moved as the spirit of sex directed. She was with Dionysus, the god of wine; she was with Hermes, god of war, and to him she bore a son. Even Nerites, a young sea-god, had a bite of Aphrodite’s apple. Like that goddess of anything-goes, men of power in the APC change alliances and allegiances per second. They pick their favourite power quote from Hong Kong film director, Andrew Lau: “There is no reason to keep wearing the same pair of pants.” They apply this to political partnership –even to governance, to everyone’s regret and sorrow. Friendship in politics is an expendable asset; it easily goes in exchange for power.
We wait to see what the powers-that-be will do to their Lagos and Port Harcourt partners in the next one week. Think of a Jonathan in the marketing tray of the APC. Think of a Muhammadu Buhari hawking Goodluck Jonathan from street to street in Kano; think of a vengeful Bola Tinubu holding Atiku Abubakar’s hands in holy matrimony. Think of the consensual partners of eight years ago now in a controversy of rape. Think of adultery and treachery and spousal, violent abuse in a mix. That is APC. It is a whetstone for treacherous swords that know no comrade. Its driver does not necessarily repay good for good. Its circumcision ceremony was a rite that presaged today’s rape and violation. Ask the ‘believers’ who rushed into that party’s Ark of Noah at the beginning of the journey. They lost everything; even those of you who refused to buy them and their products are paying heavily. They are not bothered because no one matters and nothing counts except their gold coins. Exactly one year from today, their days will be over in the Villa; but they are not done with us. To escape the flood of misery induced by their misgovernance, they are bringing another ark. Very soon, on the spires of the APC, the voice of Mama Peace will ring out, telling all of us: “Fellow Nigerians, as I was saying…”