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AnuOluwapo Adelakun: If Nigerians Want a First Lady…

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Dame Patience BellaNaijaMy fellow Nigerian women, the worst has happened or so we think. In recent weeks, verbal and written sparks have been flying in the already heated Nigerian polity. The presidential candidate for the All Progressive Congress (APC) has stated that if voted into office, there would be no office for the First Lady.

As I came across this news, I imagined what Twitter or Facebook would be like… as regards the issue. I dreaded the brimstone and fiery comments, but I “girled up” and delved in. I read all sorts.  “Are they sending us back to the kitchen?”,  “I’m not surprised, his religion relegates women”,  “I smell Sharia” “Are his wives dead?” “He has no respect for women” e.t.c.  All hell was let loose.

I received this news as a well prepared mysterious meal. Even though I was hungry with feministic pangs, I held my intellectual cutlery for a minute, took in the savor of the new phenomenon and got to work. There is so much propaganda in the atmosphere, and it is easy to get carried away; but beyond religion, tribal brotherhood,  gender or political partisanship,I implore us all to treat this issue in its real essence.

Unknown to many Nigerians, the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria makes no provision for the Office of the First Lady (let alone the office of the son of the governor) So, for those spitting thunder, have you wondered how this has never occurred to us or our lawmakers to address such an issue or make such a law? Maybe we have been enjoying the impacts of the office of the First Lady – good or bad; maybe we weren’t aware of the lawlessness we dressed up in expensive clothes or maybe this issue is a case of Nigerians making a mountain out of a molehill. Whatever the case may be, Nigeria has been funding an unconstitutional venture.

You should know what is being cooked in the kitchen or you might eat a forbidden food- African proverb

This discovery, in hindsight, helps me to make sense out of some notable alarming actions coming from the office of the First Lady in recent times. There have been no defined roles or duties, so our expectations as a nation have been honestly unfair. I mean, when some years back a First Lady held the country to ransom even though the President was dead, she couldn’t have been out of line; she could have been Mrs President anyway. When a politician married a minor, we saw a Nigerian actress crying and pleading all over social media for help, the masses were signing petitions upon petitions yet the office of the First Lady remained silent on the barbaric act; they were not out of line, all our children could have become married anyway.

When our girls were abducted in the middle of the night from school, the office of the First Lady swung into the CIA-FBI-SSS mode and began searching for WAEC invigilators who could prove some exams were taken. I hope they find those two teachers who refused to attend that meeting since they hold the road map to finding the Chibok girls after more than 250 days of their disappearance.

When the country went agog over the allocation of N4bn for the construction of the first Ladies’ Mission house in 2014, we all could have sipped on cold glasses of herbs.

The office of the First lady does not necessarily represent the Nigerian women and their interests. It doesn’t mean anyone is sending anyone back to the kitchen (where we make sumptuous meals by the way).  Beyond all the cooking and cleaning, a woman’s life must matter. Women in Nigeria are making meaningful contributions in various sectors and industries. You do not have to be the First Lady to make an impact. If women participated more in politics, we would have more female governors (kudos to Senator Al-Hassan of Taraba State), more than a miserly 35% ministerial appointments and probably a female Nigerian President.

THIS IS NOT AN ATTACK ON NIGERIAN WOMEN. Political positions are not transmitted by sex, the fact that ones husband holds a political office doesn’t automatically mean his wife is a politician. (I find it very funny when the wife of a local government chairman for instance, becomes a terrible force to reckon with).

If Nigerians want a first lady, then wake up your lawmakers, pass that bill into law, define roles and duties, nominate intelligent and qualified women and let us vote either en masse or through our Senators in the House of Representatives. We need accountable leaders. You can not question a man whom you never gave a responsibility. Nigerians, be objective.

Also, in the spirit of reducing national spending, let us take note of the luxurious expenses involved in maintaining a large entourage attached to the office of the first lady, the party is over ladies!

He who thinks he is leading and has no one following him is taking a walk.

AnuOluwapo Adelakun is a Women & Girls rights advocate, Journalist and Documentary Filmmaker working on issues affecting marginalized girls and women in Nigeria. She's a UNICEF Voices of Youth alumni, Carrington Youth Fellow of the US Consulate in Nigeria, US Consul General Award Recipient, UN WOMEN/Empower Women Global Champion for Change and UK Chevening Alumna. She's also an ardent reader of African literature and an unrepentant fan of the BBC series 'Call the Midwife'.

50 Comments

  1. Ibukun

    January 7, 2015 at 2:09 pm

    GBAM!!! MY THOUGHTS EXACTLY.

  2. jeyne

    January 7, 2015 at 2:17 pm

    Wow! Word

  3. oluchy

    January 7, 2015 at 2:22 pm

    You wouldn’t have say it better, we have to always know what the law/constitution says about a matter before you speak amiss. {You should know what is being cooked in the kitchen or you might eat a forbidden food},l loveeeee this African proverb.

  4. Teris

    January 7, 2015 at 2:23 pm

    i was two paragraphs in when i burst into laughter.
    thank you jare, you too make point.

  5. Eileen

    January 7, 2015 at 2:28 pm

    We all know nigeria is a lawless country.

  6. kenitola

    January 7, 2015 at 2:32 pm

    since the office is not constitutional, i don’t see any reason why we should have one. what if we have a female president in the nearest future? will there be an office for the First Man or First Guy? love this write up. kudos.

  7. ednutey

    January 7, 2015 at 2:33 pm

    The last line sure got me….nice write-up.

    More ink to your pen

  8. Ada Nnewi

    January 7, 2015 at 2:36 pm

    I absolutely adore you for this article!!!! The ignorance in the “internet-sphere” concerning Buhari’s views on this unconstitutional office was mind-blowing….I tried to educate some people on the real crux of the matter but the extremely ignorant ones just couldn’t be schooled….Maybe your article will help school them….*off to share on every platform available*

  9. omolara

    January 7, 2015 at 2:39 pm

    true tuk, though i was young then but i could felt the impact of late maraym babaginda who created so many NGOS and nigerian women benefitted from the organisations same with mrs abacha who made french language compulsory in all secondary schools but now all i see exclusive party attendance n blessing or interferace of the first lady in political affairs….#change#no sentiment.

  10. D

    January 7, 2015 at 2:45 pm

    I am a woman and I have to say even before I read the whole deal!!!! Bravo!!!! . Like Anu as clearly stated I personally have not seen any use of a first lady office both home and abroad. I am very much open to learning but I am yet to see any Nigerian first or second or even third lady (second is governor, 3rd is local government) stand up for the rights of the XX chromosome population, if someone is getting paid for a role, then responsibilities should be spelled out just like any other job. I have been one of those that has said in recent past that I was not certain that both the PDP and APC candidates were people I could vote into power, but of recent I have to say the APC candidate has been taking actions or at least making the talk that might just swing my vote that way. Now hopefully he walks all these talking he is making when he gets there.

    • kemi

      January 7, 2015 at 5:47 pm

      If Governor’s wife is 2nd
      what position is VP’s wife , Senate leader’s wife, Speaker’s wife at federal, state and local government level.
      Meanwhile come to think of it, stopping the office also mean women can now see themselves as people that can be a future president or Governor and stop removing being a first lady as an ambition.

  11. ednutey

    January 7, 2015 at 2:52 pm

    …on the other hand she looks like she’s ‘shokiing’.Maybe they got the inspiration from her sef,who knows. #okbyeb4deyshootmegun

  12. ttt

    January 7, 2015 at 3:02 pm

    Thank you

  13. Funmilola

    January 7, 2015 at 3:05 pm

    I tire too o for first lady palava…….look fine,spend free available money,travel abroad,start some projects that make no sense,donate grinding machines,bags of rice,salt.ankara wrappers,the list is endless jor!

  14. kenya

    January 7, 2015 at 3:17 pm

    I love you Anu!

  15. Goodluck

    January 7, 2015 at 3:20 pm

    Good thoughts

  16. @edDREAMZ

    January 7, 2015 at 3:22 pm

    a.k.a EDWIN CHINEDU AZUBUKO said…
    .
    Only if i get money i for marry yu…. Yu said it all sweet heart and i pray somebody higher will see and read this… Buhari for president no more no less…..
    .
    .
    ***CURRENTLY IN JUPITER***

  17. A-nony

    January 7, 2015 at 3:26 pm

    Dame’s picture – *Shokii Ahhh Shokii*

  18. Que

    January 7, 2015 at 3:31 pm

    I’m sorry, will read after…for now all I saw was d Dame shoki-ing!

  19. Que

    January 7, 2015 at 3:49 pm

    Onto the matter…. firstly I wasn’t aware the first lady thing was a recognised office…. it’s not an office, it’s just a position of the leader’s spouse. They may carry out soft roles at their discretion to boost support for their partner ‘a administration but I guess that’s it… I don’t get why people are crying over an empty office being scrapped…. what contribution has Dame made to d lives of Nigerians, at least if she cooked n shared food some belle for happy… pls this is a non issue… If you want legal recognition, be prepared to work for it.

    Also I doubt conducting and voting in first ladies/men separately from the president’s wife/husband makes any sense. We don’t need more offices, we need d ones we have now to function properly first.

    • Anon

      January 7, 2015 at 5:17 pm

      “I don’t get why people are crying over an empty office being scrapped”

      But it is an office. Are you ignorant of the fact that she has a budget, she gets donations from NGOs, quasi-organisations, she has staffers and she even gives State Governors’ wives an allowance/allocation every month? Don’t be fooled. It is and has always been a fully functional office. The only thing is that it is unconstitutional. Scrap the damn thing and then the states will scrap their own too.

  20. flow

    January 7, 2015 at 4:10 pm

    Well said am hearing this for the first. Time that first lady office is not in the costitution,can u imagine how the first lady office wait money on. Stove recently OMG

  21. Neo

    January 7, 2015 at 4:15 pm

    Gbam! Gbammer! Gbammest!

    I literally LOL’ed at “i hope they found those two teachers”

  22. Damsel says

    January 7, 2015 at 4:36 pm

    U have spoken well…..

  23. mOYO

    January 7, 2015 at 4:42 pm

    Nice article, well done. Although you brought back the nightmare of the two “teashers”” and “”pricipal””. Ah Diaris God o.

  24. Gtouch

    January 7, 2015 at 4:53 pm

    Love your style of writing but I must get this off my chest for those that would love to use this opportunity to market Buhari to us. We no want. Tell us what you have done in the northern region in the past decade. Just use your hometown. In

  25. Leah

    January 7, 2015 at 5:36 pm

    I think everyone here said it all, well written, articulate and right on the mark. I absolutely agree.

  26. el patron

    January 7, 2015 at 7:06 pm

    only if people will read this.. and think with their brain instead of gender sentiment

  27. chinco

    January 7, 2015 at 7:19 pm

    Very nice write up

  28. Mousepad

    January 7, 2015 at 7:46 pm

    Clap Clap Clap!!

  29. iyayu

    January 7, 2015 at 7:56 pm

    How much did the APC pple pay you to write this…

    • ada nnewi

      January 7, 2015 at 9:54 pm

      In this world we live in, it is not uncommon for one or two fools to mistakenly wander into a gathering of wise individuals, however their unsuitability at such a gathering is quickly identified once they air their views…

    • like

      January 7, 2015 at 11:35 pm

      Really.. You read this post and this is your comment.

      You are one of the biggest problem we have in Nigeria. Attributing everything to political.. Anu wrote this post with fact which is available in the public domain.. Get educated, Get knowledge and maybe you can understand what life should be like….
      Anu my dear, thank you for sharing this post.. it will educate so many…. If the first lady wants to remain relevant, she should lobby for funds from international organization and have an NGO but not with tax payers (Organization /personal) funds..

  30. asa

    January 7, 2015 at 8:00 pm

    Nicely and well said.

  31. I am voting for APC

    January 7, 2015 at 8:38 pm

    EXACTLY! APC know what they are doing. There is really no need to have an “office of the first lady”. Like you said, you do not need to be a first lady to make an impact in society.

    Sometimes I don;t understand Nigeria, we congratulate people over things that don’t need to be congratulated on.. ah ah. Because she is ‘lucky enough’ to have married a young man who would later go on to be president does not give her the right to have an office where they’ll be allocating N4bn to.

    I hope you all know this is another example of how PDP have been scamming us for this long. hiss. And on that note, WHY THE HELL IS JONATHAN ALLOCATING N518 million on FOOD?!

    OBAMA PAYS FOR HIS OWN DAMN MEALS! As far as I’m concerned, Everyone in the Presidential office should use their own money to fund their meals if they really want the country to progress hiss.

    One can easily bring a packed lunch to the office! KMT

    • I am voting for APC

      January 7, 2015 at 8:40 pm

      but no oooo, they must be eating rice ati eba ati mede mede till their belle full

      I hope you guys reading this can sense the level of frustration I feel right now.

  32. Paypay

    January 7, 2015 at 9:01 pm

    Love this…….running to your blog righhhhhhhhhht now. Catch me if you can!

  33. mulikat

    January 7, 2015 at 9:23 pm

    first lady office ,that money will be spend on jobless youth,that good b4 nothing like forstlady till Maryam babagida bring that useless words.

    • Morolake

      January 9, 2015 at 1:06 pm

      Your written English is scary. Hmm

  34. BlueEyed

    January 8, 2015 at 1:31 am

    I was one paragraph into this write up and I stopped reading. Now as much as whatever this writer is implying as regards the relevance of the office of the First Lady , I will still say Buhari is one to dismiss the role of women to the level his religion and cultural grounds have taught him, offices of the First Lady around developed countries have proven to be effective in a president’s tenure, why have little faith in the spew of wives in this camp to bring more to the table? Except Mr Buhari truly feels like women cannot do more than petty talk and party planning, then with this i ask Nigerians where exactly is forward thinking in Mr Buhari

    • BlueEyed

      January 8, 2015 at 1:31 am

      **His

    • ada nnewi

      January 8, 2015 at 6:19 am

      Blue Eyed if you read Sir Buhari’s statement on this matter you will recall that he mentioned that him and his siblings were raise by his mother as his father died when he was very young. He also stated that he knows that women are more or less irreplaceable in the role of societal development, however he is of the opinion that the office of the first lady should be scrapped as it has been an avenue for looting an unprecedented embezzlement and there is nothing but truth in his words…Your views on general politics amaze me though @ bleed blue, it seems like a portion of your income comes from the largesse of ill gotten wealth in the system cause you defend a broken system with such passion….

    • Bleed Blue

      January 9, 2015 at 3:12 pm

      Errrrr….what has “@bleed blue” got to do with it oh? My dear ada nnewi, one commenter is blue eyed, while the other is blue blooded 🙂

      Aaaaaaaanyway, Blue Eye, it’s really a fantastic article…please do read to the end. You will see where the writer proffers a solution to the issue of the first lady having a formal “office” or not.

    • Ada newish

      January 10, 2015 at 8:48 am

      Ema binu bleed blue…no vex….na mistake

  35. Aijay.....

    January 8, 2015 at 7:28 am

    Thank you so much for this article.

  36. fafore ayodele

    January 8, 2015 at 10:04 am

    Nice write up Anu,

  37. GBE*** Ayi**ra

    January 8, 2015 at 11:29 am

    Hmmm nice Anu.. seems every body agree it’s a logical thing to close that office, but I have also grown to learn that we are the best player when it’s comes to how to play a soccer ball when watching a football. Match… I just prayed that any of the lucky man called from d spectators stand would score the winning goal for us, or else….. and he must be ready to pay the bills for his family meals and the incidental expenses every month from his own pocket because I think it’s logical, U.S president does that too.
    Cheers
    Keep it up Anu.

  38. Miss Yinx

    January 8, 2015 at 12:51 pm

    Very well written!!! If Nigeria ever had a female president would we have an “Office of the First Gentleman” created for her husband? I wonder…

  39. jill Owatemi

    January 8, 2015 at 6:49 pm

    Lovely article…..No biases!!

  40. Ebere

    June 9, 2015 at 9:49 am

    True talk…well rationalized

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