BY JIMITOTA ONOYUME
First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan is in Port-Harcourt for a series of private and public activities lasting till this weekend. Since her arrival last Friday, residents of the Garden City indeed know that a special guest is in town!
It is probably the first time the wife of the President, Dame Patience Jonathan would be in Rivers State for five straight days since her husband became President of the country.
Dame Jonathan came into Port Harcourt last Friday and immediately commissioned the Yitzhak Rabin International School and Resource Centre in the state capital.
The following day, she attended the wedding ceremony of a member of the State House of Assembly, Evans Bipi, one of the arrowheads in the political campaign against Governor Chibuike Amaechi.
The First Lady was Mother of the Day at the wedding reception which held at the Civic Centre in Port Harcourt and drew the attendance of former Governor Peter Odili and his wife, Justice Mary Odili and some other political big wigs.
Understandably, an unprecedented security cordon was placed around the First Lady’s private residence on Bauchi Road in the old Government Reservation Area, GRA, Port Harcourt. Indeed, the road has remained shut to vehicular traffic since she came in.
The security cordon around her, it was learnt, has been given primary consideration above every other VIP in the city including the governor, it was claimed, was even sequestered in the Government House last Saturday on account of the lockdown
Residents living along Bauchi Road are, however, bearing a greater portion of the pains as each resident can go out and come in a maximum of two times a day.
A Police patrol vehicle was used to block one end of the road while a Police barricade was mounted at the other end. No vehicle could drive through the road, which is a one way, to connect other adjoining roads because of the barricade. Traffic was also diverted from the road.
Understandably because of the recent political developments in the state residents of the state are reading different meanings to her visit which is expected to last till this weekend.
“Although this is her state, but I am just worried with the time she visited and staying this long. We know that the political class at the moment is heavily divided. So for her to be in the state for this long, honestly I don’t know what to say”, a resident, Mr Clifford told Vanguard.
A youth leader, Odiedem Amachree, however, said there was no cause for alarm. Amachree who is the president of the South-South Youth Leaders Forum, said his group was happy with the visit of the First Lady, adding that her stay had reduced tension in the state.
“We want her to continue to come around to rest in Port Harcourt. This is her home. We are happy she has been around here with us for some days now. There is no cause for alarm. You can observe that her stay has reduced tension in the state”, he said.
A lady who did not want her name mentioned expressed fears that her stay might not be unconnected with politics. “Our president and his wife are politicians. I wonder if the wife of a President can spend a whole day without discussing politics. So she might be here also talking politics. The political discourse may or may not relate to the situation in the state. But certainly I think she should also be talking politics and holding meetings”, she said.
One of her neighbours on Bauchi Road, who pleaded anonymity said that the high and mighty in the state had been visiting the First Lady at her residence since she came.
This neighbour said no house in the area had played host to the number of guests that had been there in the last four days in several years.
At press time on Tuesday, a canopy was mounted on a spot that serves as ring road or roundabout for motorists coming from the Port Harcourt Club end of Bauchi Road wanting to connect Forces Avenue in the old GRA.
Certainly, since this is probably the first time the First Lady would be staying this long in her new private residence in Port Harcourt, and given the political developments in the state tongues are wagging over whether this is indeed only a private visit as it is being portrayed.
However, the First Lady through her Special Assistant on Media, Ayo Osinlu was quick to debunk insinuations that she is in Port Harcourt to plot the removal of the governor. Maybe not, but certainly not to make life easier for him!