In the diverse Nigerian culture, where names have meanings and those who bear such names should evidently act according to the meaning(s) of the name, there is no doubt that Dame ‘Patience’ Goodluck Jonathan is ‘playing to type’ her first name, ‘Patience’. About an African adage, “There may be some medicine that does not work, but there is certainly no ‘patience’ that is not effective”.
When in 1957 Chief Lazarus Iwari-Oba and his wife gave birth to ‘Patience’, their love, the hands of foresight and God Almighty were must have been with both parents and baby Patience, as the events of today have proven so. And so an innocent girl-child, who went through the vicissitudes of life, to become the “Mother” of Africa’s most illustrious country and the biggest democracy in the world, would not say that the omnipotent God has not cracked the kernel for her and her Siamese husband; ‘Goodluck’ Jonathan, who also has a first name of import, and who is also divinely overloaded.
But, the success story of Dame Jonathan, a woman of unpretentious and honest disposition, by that of her husband; who is as meek as a dove, would remind you of another African parable that “For one who has no axe to hew the firewood, it is the Almighty God who chops the firewood for him”. It is desired to be seen that it is only the hands of God that had catapulted Goodluck Jonathan from a deputy governor (that had been derogated as a spare car-tyre) to a governor. It is not all together untrue that the same Supreme Being who made him a vice president and now president. Now, where stand the doubting Thomas that with ‘Patience’ Nigeria is courting a ‘Good-luck’ to attain virile nationhood?
“My name is no more Patience but now Mama Peace because I believe that without peace, there will be no more women, no more children and no more health sector. Without peace, the international community will be afraid to come and invest in our country”.
“Peace is from the heart and not from the tongue or lips; not what you say but what is in you. We pray for genuine because peace is the key to our arriving at our desired destination as a nation"
Some Nigerians has been calling for the scraping of the office of the First Lady, overtly to spite the obvious. But in a Nigeria’s affairs, where the women folks are largely sidelined in representation, the Office of the First Lady usually
serves as a platform for the women to belong, by congregating around the First Lady and Wife of a seating president. This done, the women and child related activities of the office of the First Lady would have spread down to the states and local government levels, where the wives of governors and local government chairmen, would queue behind, for the accrual benefits.
The Office of the First Lady, as we have experience performs certain oversight functions of the government ministries and parastatals. But without gainsaying, the office of Dame Patience Jonathan, has performed much more than that of any first ladies, especially since the reemergence of democratic government in 1999.
For instance, without the intervention of the First Lady, especially in the important areas of health, women and child uplift, how would it be possible for Nigeria to strive? This is more so that the country has about two per cent of the
world’s population but accounts for 10 per cent of global maternal and under-five deaths. However, the good news is that, current figures from the National Bureau of Statistics indicate appreciable reduction in maternal mortality ratio from 545 per 100,000 live births to 350 per 100,000 live births.
Dame Patience Jonathan is widely acknowledged locally, nationally and internationally for her humanitarian work and rationality. With Goodluck Jonathan, her husband, serving as Bayelsa’s governor between 2005 and 2007, Patience Jonathan, as the first Lady of Bayelsa State, founded many philanthropic and women empowerment programs.
As the First Lady of Nigeria, a position she assumed after her husband was sworn-in as President following the death of President Umaru Yar’Adua, she has been associated with the socio-economic uplift of the Youths and Women of Nigeria. This amiable woman is endeared to many people for her philanthropic and charity works. Founder of the A.Aruera Reachout Foundation that has over the last eight years trained over 4,000 women in different skills to enable them take care of themselves and their families.
She has been described by many as a role model who has never stopped adding value to people’s lives with her charity works.
Dame Patience Goodluck Jonathan displays a mind-set and commitment underlying her avowed mission to help the less privileged break from the shackles of poverty, disease and underdevelopment.
She is a friend of the less-privileged and a mother to the orphans who never stopped supporting the poor through her Soup Kitchen largesse; scholarship awards to children of the less privileged in the society and medical support and assistance to children with heart conditions.
Dame Jonathan, the Peacemaker and Public Advocate!
The First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan is a notable woman for always going out of her way to make peace and reconcile feuding partners. At that, she goes about making peace with couples and harmonizing the family fronts. She also make peace with public figures who usually engage in feuds. This is not a secret fro members of the public, who readily hail her for the gestures.
And during a recent inauguration of the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme Maternal and Child Health otherwise known as MAMA Project, she accordingly declared before the enthusiastic crowd who attended the function that she was actually the ‘Mama Peace’ that they all called her through chanting and hailing.
“Henceforth do not call me Patience, but “Mama Peace” as you are already calling me”. The amiable First Lady told her teeming crowd of supporters and beneficiaries of her pet programmes.
Speaking further on peace, she again declared; “My name is no more Patience but now Mama Peace because I believe that without peace, there will be no more women, no more children and no more health sector. Without peace, the international community will be afraid to come and invest in our country”.
“Peace is from the heart and not from the tongue or lips; not what you say but what is in you. We pray for genuine peace because peace is the key to our arriving at our desired destination as a nation”
According to her, the peace evangelism was what she would be preaching to bring an end to insurgency and terrorism including the menace of Boko Haram, an Islamic sect that is trying to bring the country to its kneel.
She was upset and moved to tears about the hearth-breaking news of the alleged abduction of about 200 school girls by the Boko Haram insurgents from a school in Chibok town, Bornu State. Her efforts at making public inquests into the abduction, by inviting the stakeholders, although hailed by most Nigerians, was demeaned by some negligible few
Her passion for the well-being of the Nigerian women and children is not all misplaced, as this could be easily seen through her enthusiasm and push. For instance Dame Patience Jonathan, like she usually attract to herself women groups throughout the country and Africa, is always excited being with crowd of the women folks.
Once during one of such large gathering of the women, who went to welcome the First Lady, the National Coordinator of the Women for Change and Development Initiative, Dr. Princess Rabi Ibrahim, who accompanied Dame Jonathan on the visit, once told the women. “The Women for Change and Development Initiative set by
the first lady to empower women socially and economically, has recorded remarkable strides. It has improved education of the girl child to the point of increased enrolment in schools and even education after graduation, especially in the northern part of Nigeria”
A Worthy Doyenne of the Arts and the Nollywood She plays as Backer to many Nigerian sportsmen and women, just the same manner to artistes or entertainers. Dame Jonathan’s support for these Nigerian entertainment stars
knows no bounds. Of course, she has always told her listeners that the Nigerian artistes and sportsmen men make Nigerians proud in the manner they have dominated the entertainment and recreational scenes around the world. No doubt, she is one of the unseen hands in the presidency’s solid support for them and their professional bodies. For instance, while the Nigerian female football teams have gotten the best time with the present First Lady and the Federal Government, the Nigerian film stars of the Nollywood fame have also been greatly supported.
Her meeting is often with artistes and Nollywood stars, just like the opening ceremony of the first Indian Film Festival in Nigeria and the commemoration of Bollywood, the Indian film industry at 100 years. Dame Jonathan encouraged and assured both them that partnership between the movie industries in Nigeria (Nollywood) and India (Bollywood) would boost both countries’ economies.
According to her, the turnover of the industry in terms of wealth creation and revenue generation is huge as both countries have population advantage.
“We look forward to the possibility of stakeholders in the film industries from Bollywood and Nollywood engaging in partnerships or exchanging programmes that will yield mutual benefits and promote better understanding between our two countries.
The Persecution of Mama Peace
Despite the many cases of the public persecution of the, she comes out smarter, as she usually says that one will not go wrong if he follows the way of truth, and according to the God’s ordinance.
“There is God”, she sometimes says cautioning those who wrongly persecute, not of herself alone, but of others.
Sometimes the first Lady was bedridden for several weeks over an ailment in a hospital in Germany, but instead of empathizing with her and the first Nigerian family, the mocking birds went to town jubilating. Sooner, they came back with a wicked rumour that the first lady was dead in the foreign hospital she went for treatment.
But, on her persecutions by some of the President’s opponents, a notable newspaper columnist admonished her and the President to always take solace in such wrongful condemnations, and that it is only the edible and fruitful trees that the passers-by would throw stones at.
About Dame Patience Jonathan
Dame Patience Faka Goodluck Jonathan, the First Lady of the federal Republic of Nigeria, and Wife to the Nigerian President, was born into a respectable Christian family of Chief Lazarus Iwari-Oba at Port-Harcourt, Rivers State in 25 October, 1957. She is the National Chairperson of the Women for Change and Development Initiative, a pet NGO she has established, and which is very passionate about the empowerment of grassroots women, child education and peace advocacy. The NGO spreads all over the country and it is very popular amongst the wives of the governors etc., who cash in on the organization to do similar charity programmes at the state levels.
A lover of peace, a mother, Dame Jonathan is married with two children. She spends her leisure time swimming, reading, writing and traveling.
She got her primary school certificate in 1976, before obtaining the West African School Certificate Examination (WASCE) in 1980. After getting the National Certificate of Education (NCE) in Mathematics and Biology from the Rivers State College of Arts and Science, Port Harcourt, she studied for and obtained a B.Ed in Biology and Psychology, at the University of Port Harcourt.
Dame Jonathan started a teaching career at Stella Maris College, Port Harcourt and Sports Institute Isake. In 1997, she went into banking, as she set up the Akpo Community Bank, the first community bank in Port Harcourt. After serving as Marketing Manager of Imiete Community Bank, she returned to teaching. She was later transferred to the Bayelsa State Ministry of Education, where she served until 29 May 1999 when her husband became the Deputy Governor of the state. In 2012, she was appointed a permanent secretary in Bayelsa State civil service. She and her husband have two children.
Honours and Awards
In acknowledging her immense contribution to society’s development through her charitable, political and humane works, she has received numerous international and national accolades such as:
“Beyond The Tears” International Humanitarian Award New York, USA, in 2008, for her role in the global fight against HIV/AIDS
“The African Goodwill Ambassador Award” (Los Angeles, USA, 2008)
The “Wind of Positive Change” Award; from the South/South Women’s Organization.
The ‘Defender of the Poor’ Award by the Society of St Vincent de Paul (Abuja Catholic Archdiocese)
The “International award for Excellence”; by the Yitzhak Rabin Centre, Tel Aviv, Israel (2008).
This is the first of such recognition by this famous centre since its inception
From educational institutions, the First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan has been honoured with over five doctorate degrees.
These include a doctorate in Public Administration by the Oduduwa University (OUI),
Ipetumode, Osun State. She is also a “Pro-Chancellor and Fellow”, African Business School (October, 2008)
Dame Patience Jonathan has also been conferred with some traditional titles such as;
“Iyom Ada di oha mma of Ukpo”; by H.R.H Igwe Robert Eze.
“Unume Wheshi Ekpeye 1 of Ekpeye Kingdom”, in Rivers State by the Eze Robinson O. Robinson, the Ekpeyelogbo.
A traditional Staff of office bestowed on her by the Okpahgwe Amawbia in Anambra State.