By Godwin Akpovie
“On Thursday, 15 August, 2013, the First Lady in conjunction with the National Council of Women Societies (NCWS) acknowledged the role of women in the peace initiatives of Government and celebrated the unprecedented attainment of highly-visible positions at all levels being occupied by women in the administration of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. But instead of celebrating with the women, the interim National Publicity Secretary, of APC, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, not only dampened the mood of the women with the insinuation that there is nothing to celebrate but went on to accuse the First Lady of starting an early campaign for the 2015 presidential elections.
Hear him: “While one of the PDP gong-bearer, Okupe, was telling Nigerians that President Jonathan has not informed anyone that he will contest in 2015, his wife was coercing hundreds of hapless women, including those in uniform, into a show of shame tagged a “Peace Rally”, but in essence a campaign for President Jonathan ahead of 2015”. He then called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to sanction anyone responsible for the event.
For the records, let’s examine the ‘shameful’ show the First Lady is accused of.
According to Mohammed, it is ‘shameful’ for Mr. President to have fulfilled the 35% representation in his cabinet he promised the women during his 2011 electioneering campaign. The 13 women ministers in the 42-man cabinet are holding sensitive ministries like Finance, Petroleum, Aviation, Information Communication Technology, Defence, Power, Foreign Affairs among others. To Lai, it is ‘shameful’ for the women to celebrate the elevation of one of them as head of the judicial arm of Government and the first female Chief Justice of Nigeria by President Jonathan and approved by the Senate. It is ‘shameful’ for the women to celebrate the unprecedented appointments of women permanent secretaries both at the Federal and State levels. It is ‘shameful’ to jubilate about the elections of higher number of women in the Senate, House of Representatives and the various States Houses of Assembly. According to Lai, all these and many more are ‘shameful’ acts that are not worth celebrating. The Nigerian women have never had it so good and they have every reason to roll out the drums as far as many of us are concerned. I am sure Nigerian women are waiting for him and his party at the polls to show their displeasure at being disparaged when the time comes.
Talking about the early campaign for 2015, can Alhaji Lai Mohammed extract any political statement uttered by the First Lady at the rally? As everybody knows by now, the First Lady used the occasion to call on the Legislature to insert in the Nigerian Constitution the 35% affirmative action for women which will then compel any administration to adhere to this provision and free the women from the discretion, pleasure or otherwise of successive Presidents. Would that not be a lasting legacy if passed by the National Assembly? That is what Lai calls campaigning and wants INEC to sanction the First Lady for that.
If there is any group that should be sanctioned, it is Lai Mohammed and his party because they have refused to stop campaigning since the end of the 2011 elections. The defunct ACN, CPC and ANPP tried to hoodwink Nigerians by staging rallies round the whole country in the name of a so-called consultation on merger. That took forever. Now that INEC has approved the merger into APC another round of campaign is going on right now in the country under the guise of launching the party. Rallies have been held in Ibadan, Abeokuta and Lafia, where President Jonathan administration is being lampooned and vilified. APC posters adorn the streets of Lagos and major capitals in the country with messages like ‘change’. Every day the media is awash with what the APC calls its manifesto. If this is not campaigning, I beg Lai Mohammed, what is it? Who is fooling who?
Mohammed said 2015 will be issue-based. This is a challenge PDP is glad to accept. But it is not what you say that matters because talk is cheap. It is the facts on the ground that counts. It is three-months now since President Jonathan published his mid-term report. Lai Mohammed or any of the other wolf criers have not faulted the facts contained therein. The report detailed Government’s achievements on railways, aviation, education (including the almajiri education), agriculture, power, roads, economy, etc. Because the report cannot be faulted, instead of commenting on the report and acknowledge the progress President Jonathan and his team have made in the last two years, Lai Mohammed and his cohorts continued to disparage the office and person of Mr. President.
This is one President who has deepened the gains of democracy by allowing the will of the people to prevail in elections to the detriment of his party. This is one President that is committed to the Rule of Law. Lai Mohammmed delights in demonizing the PDP and portrays APC as the messiah Nigerians have been waiting for. He can continue to live in fool’s paradise. He and his party will be shocked by Nigerians in 2015. This is not the time to theorize on this. We will cross that bridge when we get there.
Special Assistant, Political,
Office of the Political Adviser to the President.