30th August, 2010
The fanfare that heralded the visit of First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan to Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, last week was marred by the embarrassing altercation between her and the state governor, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi during a reception held for her by Okrika people..
What led to the confrontation between Patience and Governor Amaechi was the plan to demolish the Okrika waterfront to pave way for the construction of a school. The Presidentâ€™s wife, who did not like what the governor was planning to do publicly told him that he should stop using the word â€˜â€˜mustâ€™â€™ all the time in dealing with people of the state. She appealed to Amaechi to embrace dialogue if he had to demolish peopleâ€™s property.
Though Amaechi had good intentions, Patience did not see it that way. She felt that because she comes from Okrika Amaechi had to take things easy with regards to the demolition, even if it is in the interest of the state.Â We affirm that the First Lady went too far by upbraiding the governor publicly in the way she did. She could have offered the advice privately instead of playing to the gallery and making the governor look like an evil person before his subjects.
The First Lady must realise that the position does not confer any power on her to act as if she is politically superior to an executive governor of a state. It would be tactless of her to wield her husbandâ€™s influence recklessly the way she did last week. She must know that she cannot order people around, including a state governor, just because she is the First Lady; a position not even recognised by the nationâ€™s constitution.
Perhaps Governor Amaechi would not have been so treated if he had not shown so much respect to the wife of the president by going to receive her when he could have sent one of his commissioners or his wife. The courtesy he thought was fitting to extend to Mrs Jonathan was repaid with public embarrassment and we think the Presidentâ€™s wife and the president deserve to apologise to Governor Amaechi for what happened.
The presidentâ€™s wife must learn how to relate with elected officers. The way she relates with elected public officers like governors would affect her husband negatively, especially if she does that in a manner unbecoming of her status as the wife of a president. If she retains this conduct word will go round that she is just like the power drunk wives of kings of old who put their husbands in trouble. We want to believe that she is conversant with the story of the wicked King Ahab and the cruel fate that befell him and Queen Jezebel, his wife, who instigated him to seize Nabothâ€™s Vineyard in the book of Kings.