The All Progressives Congress (APC) has described the decision by the First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan to receive an Honorary Doctorate award in far away South Korea, even as Nigeria’s public universities have remained shut for almost four months under the watch of her husband, President Goodluck Jonathan, as the height of insensitivity.
In a statement issued by its Interim National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed in Lagos on Wednesday, APC said if the First Lady and her advisers had been sensitive enough, they would have realized that embarking on such a jamboree at this time is an affront on the sensibilities of Nigerians in general, and the students, who have been marooned at home for almost four months in particular.
“In their eagerness to gobble up one spurious award after another, they forgot that if the Hansei University in South Korea had been shut by a strike because the government there has repudiated an agreement it willingly signed with the teachers, the institution would not have been able to give any honorary degree to anyone.
“A government that is unwilling to spend the nation’s resources on the education of its youth has no qualms about wasting the same resources for a junket by the First Lady and her cheerleaders halfway around the world for what is nothing more than an ego-massaging award,” it said.
APC noted that the reasons given for the award of an Honorary Doctorate to the First Lady was particularly interesting and quoted the citation thus: “She’s a humanitarian who has dedicated her life to working for the less privileged in Nigeria and Africa especially for women and children. Her vision as the defender of the poor in Nigeria fits into Hansei University’s motto of a practising Christian.”
The party, however, added that “What the university forgot to add is that while the First Lady may have dedicated her life working for the less privileged in Nigeria, there is no indication that she and her husband are sparing any thought for the poor Nigerian students whose dreams for a better future have been put on hold by the long strike that has paralyzed academic activities in public universities”.
It said that since charity begins at home, the First Lady, as a mother and a ‘humanitarian’, would have done well to rally women to mount pressure on the government led by her husband to quickly reach an amicable resolution to the lingering ASUU strike.
“It is instructive that the First Lady would rather corral some hapless women to the Eagle Square in Abuja to illegally campaign for her husband, in furtherance of her ‘humanitarian’ gesture, instead of leading a campaign of concerned mothers and ‘humanitarians’ to protest the deadlock in ending the strike in our public universities,” APC said