Nigeria’s First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan, has said plans to make her a widow, in apparent reference to the pressure brought to bear on her husband, President Goodluck Jonathan, following the spate of killings in the country and abduction of over 200 schoolgirls in Borno State, will not work.
She spoke at the Presidential Villa in Abuja during another meeting she convened yesterday over the abduction of the female students of Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State.
Frustrated by the continued absence of the wife of Borno governor, Hajiya Nana Kashim Shettima from her meetings, convened to help find the abducted girls, Mrs. Jonathan urged all Nigeria women to stop protesting since the Borno First Lady was showing a lack of concern over the issue.
She particularly warned that should the women not heed her advice not to demonstrate, they would have themselves to blame should anything happen to them during the protests.
Present at the meeting were wives of the governors of Nasarawa, Zamfara, Kaduna, Katsina, Kogi, Gombe, Benue, Abia and Akwa Ibom States.
Others were the Borno State Commissioner of Police, Commissioner for Women Affairs, the principal of Chibok Government Secondary School, the chairman of Chibok Local Government Area, the divisional police officer in the area and the troops on duty when the girls were abducted.
Mrs Jonathan, who suddenly burst into tears, said repeatedly “God is watching o”.
Gathering herself together, the First Lady noted that she could no longer weep more than the bereaved, saying that Gov. Shettima’s wife should be the more concerned.
“Before all these killings, I called and told the first lady of Borno State to let us come together. She answered me yes, but when the kidnap happened, I called her, she did not answer me. I invited her, she did not turn up even up till today. No woman will fold her arms when her house is on fire. Today my house is on fire.
“Before last Friday, I called her and she promised to attend the Friday’s meeting here. But to our greatest surprise, she sent her commissioner for women affairs. Also today, she sent her commissioner for women affairs. She is the mother of Borno State. She is the first mother of these missing girls. I am their grandmother. She is not coming out. All Nigerian women are calling her. If she is not concerned and she says she doesn’t want her people to be safe, then it is left to her. If you tell us you are not crying, why should I cry more than the bereaved? If I cry more than the bereaved, the world would ask me a question.
“If after today, Borno women say we should not help them, then Nigerian women, don’t demonstrate again. If you demonstrate and police do you anything, you are on your won. Borno women are playing game. Nigerian women should not go out for demonstration. Don’t use school children for demonstration again. Borno women are not ready for cooperation”, she said.
Mrs Jonathan, who insisted that the whereabouts of the abducted girls must be known, said she cried yesterday during church service over the spate of killings in the country.
Challenging all those at the meeting to tell the truth about the girls’ abduction, the First Lady decried the politicization of the whole saga.
“People are dying. How can you play politics when you see your fellow human beings dying? Nigerian women, I beg you to support me. Why will we join our husbands to kill others? We want the killings to stop. If we don’t get to know the whereabouts of our daughters, the next thing is they (Boko Haram) will get to us. I am not accusing anybody. My own is let us stop killings and kidnapping. Let us say a stop to these”, she said.
The First Lady added: “As a person, I really want these killings to stop. We may be the next people to be kidnapped if we let things pass by like this. We should not fold our hands and let things happen like this.
“Our sisters in the North, we are one country and we are sisters. We are not accusing you; we do not mean any harm and we are not quarrelling with anybody; we just want to stop all these killings.”
“We don’t wear bullet proof, we don’t know who they have already targeted. I’m not exempting myself or my husband. If I’m found guilty, let me go. Whoever is behind this, let us go politely to him and ask him to let all these stop.
“If it is the Constitution that is causing this, let us go to the National Assembly and beg them to amend whatever it is.”
“When something happened, let us all find solution. Look at the way the matter was brought up. The country would have gone on fire. You are making it look as if the President abducted the children”, she said.
The First Lady broke down and wept the second time towards the end of the meeting saying: “You want to kill my husband; you want to make me a widow before you go and rest. My God will never make me a widow”.