The First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan, has emphasised the importance of the office of the First Lady in the political system of Nigeria, stressing that the office has been an avenue for mobilising women for mass participation in politics.
Mrs Jonathan said this in Abia state during a reception organised in her honour by the Ohuhu community, her maternal home in Umuahia North Local Government Area of Abia state on Friday.
She said the bid by politicians from the opposition camp to scrap the office of the First Lady would amount to sending the Nigerian women back to the kitchen if such came to fruition, adding, “It is not our portion to go back to the kitchen”.
She added, “We have women that are capable. We can contribute our quota to the development of Nigeria.
Patience Jonathan made the remarks in apparent response to a proposition by General Muhammadu Buhari, Presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the scrapping of the office of the First Lady.
Patience had veered off from the address she was reading at the occasion when she directed the attention of guests to Buhari’s proposition which she stressed was not practicable under the ongoing political dispensation because of the critical role women have been playing in politics.
Buhari in an interview recently published by Weekly Trust has said he would scrap the office of the First Lady if voted into office as Nigeria’s President on the basis that the constitution of Nigeria makes no provision for the office.
He said much as he appreciated the role and importance of women in politics, he would ensure that ministries which are constitutional would be allowed to play their roles.
However, Mrs Jonathan said a political leader who made such remarks against women does not deserve the votes of the Nigerian women and hence urged them not to vote for the Presidential candidate.
She urged the women to rather vote for President Goodluck Jonathan who she stressed “Has met the 35 per cent Affirmative Action for the appointment of women into political positions in the country.
“The President has done a lot to tackle the developmental needs of the nation, in spite of the challenges and opposition against his administration,” Mrs. Jonathan said.
She said this was because women make up the majority of the population of Nigeria and constitute the greater majority of the electorate.
“Let us take advantage of our numerical strength to vote for the re-election of the President, because more Nigerian women had been appointed to political offices by Jonathan’s administration than past administrations.
Mrs. Jonathan thanked the Ohuhu community for the honour done to her, saying she would all her life cherish the title of “Ngalari Ohuhu’’ (a golden daughter of Ohuhu) conferred on her.
Governor Theodore Orji of Abia, who was guest of honour at the event, said his administration had received tremendous support from President Jonathan and his wife.
Mr. Orji described the reception as well-deserved, saying it was a rare privilege for a community to produce the wife of the President.
He described Abia as predominantly PDP, assuring that its people would vote massively for Jonathan during the presidential election.
The President-General of Ohuhu Welfare Union, Godwin Okengwu, said the people were happy to be related to Patience Jonathan.
Mr. Okengwu described her as “an exemplary woman’’ and a worthy ambassador of Ohuhu who had contributed immensely to the development of the area and Nigeria in general.
He described the event as “a home-coming” for Patience Jonathan, saying the community “is proud of her”.