By Emmanuel Aziken
Despite her seeming determination to stay away from the headlines, Mrs. Patience Jonathan apparently has nowhere to hide. Again and again, issues emanating from her husband’s five-year rule continue to propel her into the media. The latest incident was last Wednesday when a house in Abuja allegedly owned by her was ransacked by policemen.
The newspapers were varied in the description of the ownership of the property. Some said the house was owned by Mrs. Jonathan; and some claimed that the house belonged to a relation of Mrs. Jonathan’s, perhaps held in trust for the former First Lady. A few reports also claimed that the security agents invaded the home of the former First Lady. However, deeper introspection would show to anyone that it may well be the house of Mrs. Jonathan, but certainly not her home; given that she did not make it a home.
Mrs. Jonathan was certainly not the only First Lady who stirred controversies while her husband was president. Virtually all subsequent First Ladies have exceeded their predecessors by their jaunts and jobs.
However, unlike most of her predecessors, Mrs. Jonathan set her political radar at a level that inevitably put her husband in many conflicts. Some even allege that she showed herself a better politician than her husband and that her present predicament is a backlash for her hard politics.
While other First Ladies wielded influence within the limits of the political and financial interests of their husbands, Mrs. Jonathan came to national renown simply putting her interests forward, and at many times, apparently ahead of those of her husband.
Many trace the crisis in the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP that eventually led to the defeat of her husband in the 2015 presidential election to her faceoff with Governor Rotimi Amaechi at the Okirika waterfront in August 2010 when she publicly scolded the host governor.
From that time when she was barely four months as First Lady, and when she insisted that her view must prevail over that of the governor, the political permutations of her husband began to change. Indeed, before his emergence as president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan was reckoned by those who know to have had the closest relationship with Mr. Amaechi among the five PDP South-South governors. The story is even told of how Dr. Jonathan as vice-president would come to Rivers State for relaxation and would not go to his home state, Bayelsa, where Governor Timipire Sylva held sway.
Whether that Okirika Waterfront faceoff was the final humiliation for Amaechi, no one can say conclusively. It remains to be known whether President Jonathan made subtle efforts to mollify the ego of Governor Amaechi. But following that August 2010 incident, the relationship between the two men became more of pretence masked only by the exigencies of winning the 2011 elections.
Did Dr. Jonathan as president have his sight over his wife’s politics and property penchants?
Following Dr. Jonathan’s defeat, it has also emerged that Mrs. Jonathan or her camp in the presidential villa helped to scupper a last minute deal to prise a very prominent northern governor from the APC. After the deal was sabotaged, the northern governor eventually helped to deliver about two million votes for the APC. The deal would have seen the northern governor returning to the PDP. His reward would have been the 2019 PDP presidential ticket.
That deal was arranged after the APC presidential primaries where the interest of the northern APC governor was punctured. A South-South governor who has now taken a prominent position in the PDP Senate caucus was said to have been behind the deal.
Mrs. Jonathan’s camp in the Presidential Villa was said to have shut down the deal alleging it was a self-serving deal by the South-South governor to position himself to be vice-presidential in 2019.
Whatever, that deal failed and so the two million votes which PDP diehards claim were manufactured found their way into the APC box. Even though the deal did not succeed, the former northern governor now a senator has not known peace with the cabal around Buhari supposedly for contemplating that treachery. He has been disowned by his successor who had all along been his loyalist.
What an irony that both the former northern governor and Mrs. Jonathan could be at the receiving end of the politics of today!