DAME PATIENCE JONATHAN,
The First Lady of Nigeria
HER FULL NAME (ncluding her title)
She is Dr. Dame Chief (Mrs). Patience Fakabelema Jonathan (nee Oba). Her middle name is FAKABELEMA, often shortened to Faka, meaning ‘Unending Blessings’. She is the President of the African First Ladies Peace Mission.
SHE IS OLDER THAN THE PRESIDENT
Okay, calm down, not what you are thinking. Dame Patience Jonathan was born in Port Harcourt on the 25th October 1957 while the don himself was born on 20th November, 1957. Ok, just like a month.
WHY IS SHE CALLED A DAME?
Patience Jonathan bears the title ‘Dame’ because she was honoured with the Knighthood of the Anglican Church.
Her hobbies? You bet! Reading, writing, travelling and oh yeah, swimming!
She holds a National Certificate of Education (NCE) in Mathematics & Biology from the Rivers State College of Education and later bagged a degree from University of Port Harcourt (UNIPORT) in Biology & Psychology. She passed WASSCE in 1980.
Patience Jonathan’s marriage with the President is blessed with two children: a cheeky boy, Ariwera Adolphus Jonathan and a beautiful girl, Aruabi Jonathan.
YES, SHE STILL COOKS FOR MR. PRESIDENT
She says she still cooks for her husband and even goes to Utako Market (Abuja people, wey una dey?) to buy ingredients for soup. O ga ju! With all that hectic schedule (especially considering the fact that she is also a Permanent Secretary in Bayelsa State. Patience Jonathan was appointed a Perm Sec after 13 years of leave at the Bayelsa State Ministry of Education)!
WHEN THE PRESIDENT MET HER, IT WAS LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT
Miss Oba later met her lecturer while she was a student at the Rivers State College of Education (now Rivers State University of Education, Rumuolumeni). Her lecturer then was with the Department of Biological Sciences, and one thing led to the other, they both fell in love. Today, the rest is history and that Mr. Lecturer of yesterday now rules the most populous black nation on earth. Hear her:
”We first met at the Rivers State College of Education, Port Harcourt where I was a student. He was my Biology lecturer.Later; he left for university of Port Harcourt to pursue his PhD.
We met again at the University of Port Harcourt when I went for undergraduate degree. That was where our relationship began. He took interest in me because I was a brilliant and smart student.
It was love at first sight on his part. But it never crossed my mind that it would lead to a serious relationship. My first impression of him was ‘this tall, dark, handsome young man”.
Further interaction with him also revealed that he came from a good Christian home just like I did. His humble and gentle disposition caught my attention and most importantly, his intelligence.”
SHE HOLDS COUNTLESS HONORARY DEGREES AND TITLES
She holds many traditional titles, some of which are:
-Odadigba of Otuoke Kingdom, meaning the Ladder of Success.
-Unume Wheshi Ekpeye 1 of Ekpeye Kingdom in Rivers State.
-Yeye Obateru of Owu Kingdom, Ogun State, means the Wife of He Who Shares the King’s Burden.
-Yeye Ohun Orun of the Source of Ife Kingdom, Osun State, meaning the Wife of the Voice of the Heavens.
-Staff of Office, Okpahgwe Amawbia, Anambra State.
-Ada Di Oha Mma of Ukpo Kingdom (Daughter of the People of Ukpo).
-Honorary doctorate degree in Social Welfare Administration, Hansei University, South Korea: According to the organizers of the event, Dame Jonathan was given the award because she had worked ‘hard for many good causes. ‘Professor Sung-Hae Kim, the President and Chancellor of the university also went on to say:
“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. Now she’s part of our community. ”
HER MAIDEN NAME IS OBA
Yes, she was once Miss Patience Oba. She was born into the family of Chief Lazarus Iwari-Oba but she lost her own mother at a tender age. She was later raised by her step-mother, Charity Oba also known as Mama Sisi, who died in July 2013 in a road accident along the East-West road between Bayelsa and Rivers State.
SHE WAS ONCE AWARDED A UNIVERSITY HONORARY DEGREE EVEN WHILE AWAY IN GERMANY ON HOSPITAL BED
In September 2012, she was awarded a honorary degree by the Delta State University, Abraka despite the fact that she was not in the country at that time. She was said to have gone to Germany but she denied going there for any treatment. Even the President denied it only for them to own up later and throw a splendid Thanksgiving in Aso Rock. Worefa.
SHE WAS ONCE INTO BANKING
Although she started out as a teacher at Stella Maris College in Port Harcourt, she later veered briefly into the banking sector, establishing Akpo Community Bank in 1997, the first of its kind in Port Harcourt, and later served as the Marketing Manager of Imieto Community Bank.
HER HOMETOWN IS OKRIKA
She hails from Oba-Ama Community in Okrika, a port town in Rivers State. It is known as a base for the sale of second-hand clothes, and the name Okrika for those of us very familiar with ‘Bend Down Select’ and ‘Tokunbo’ clothes is an attestation to that.
HER CHARITABLE WORKS
Like others before her, she also has a non-governmental organization, named the A. Aruera Reachout Foundation and is said to focus on the needy, the poor and the destitute, with particular emphasis on women and children. According to the Foundation, it has trained over 2,000 women in the last eight years. Some of the things her Foundation also did was to foot the N1.8 million naira bill for an operation in India for a girl with a hole in the heart (septal defect) and Jubril Mohammed Hussein, a 9-year-old boy who was also flown out for treatment for his heart disease. Zainab Musa Garba, a twin, was diagnosed with a heart condition and needed N3 million naira for treatment, the Dame also footed her bills. Zainab’s mother teaches at the Federal Government College, Maiduguri while the dad is a retired civil servant. That’s a good one or what do you think? Same goes for Tobi Peters, an 11-year-old boy, three-month-old Peculiar Owodu and others (now over 30 kids).
HER FIGHT WITH TURAI YAR’ADUA OVER LAND
In January 2013, she was engaged in a tussle with the former First Lady, Turai Yar’adua over a plot of land in the Federal Capital Territory. They dragged themselves to court and treated the nation to an exciting drama.
THE DAME-SOYINKA DEBACLE
Nigeria’s first and only Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Akinwande Soyinka has on several occassions tackled the First Lady criticizing her actions especially over how she closes entire streets while she is in town or the Rotimi Amaechi case with the Presidency and telling her to be a ‘lady’ first before being a ‘First Lady’. The two don’t just see eye-to-eye.
The Nigerian First Lady is a power dresser. She is always attractively dressed (even when the President is looking morose). Whatever, she is an outstanding dresser.
HER FAMOUS WORDS
“I was just doing my own thing not knowing that in far away Asia everything was being noted. I want to assure you all that with God’s help I will do more. My grandma used to say: `Whatever little you have, share; If you have a thousand and you can’t share, you won’t share a million if you have’. -Dame Patience Jonathan while she was being honoured with a doctorate degree in South Korea, October, 2013.
“I remember when Chief Obasanjo was the President of the country, I was close to his late wife, Stella. We worshiped together in this chapel. It was a painful moment for me that time when she (Stella) died and her corpse was brought here.
“That was how my corpse would have been brought here. It was not an easy experience for me. I actually died, I passed out for more than a week. My intestine and tummy were opened.
“I am not Lazarus but my experience was similar to his. My doctors said all hope was lost.
“A black doctor in London who is with us in this service was flown in when the situation became critical. It was God himself in His infinite mercy that said I will return to Nigeria. God woke me up after seven days.
“I know that some people somehow leaked the information that I was dead. They are people that I trust and rely on; to them, I was dead and I would never return to the country alive. Some of them even sold my things off.
“I won’t say everything here. It is the Lord’s doing that I returned alive. When God says yes, nobody can say no.
“People are always afraid of operation (surgery) but in my own case, while my travail lasted, I was begging for it (surgery) after the third operation because I was going to the theatre everyday.
“It was God who saw me through. I did eight or nine operations within one month. It was not an easy one.
“The day I came back, I said God I have nothing to say, I offer myself to you. I will be doing things that will touch the lives of the less privileged. -18th February 2013, Vanguard.
In February 2013, at a reception/thanksgiving in her honour, she stated that while away in Germany for medical treatment, she was operated upon nine times in one month and it was a miracle that she survived and likened her case to that of Lazarus in the Bible.
SHE WAS ONCE CALLED ‘MAMA ICE CREAM’
According to Baridah Job Karabah, a former houseboy, her nickname back in the days was ‘Mama Ice Cream’ (and that of the President was simply ‘Oga Joe’ ). Ice cream ke? Yes, and that was because she used to cool ice cream in her large deep freezers. The ice cream is then later distributed for sale. He says business was ‘booming’ for her then. President Jonathan was at that time, a senior lecturer at the Rivers State College of Education.
And yes, she had a poultry too at the same time. Quite industrious I’d say. In December 2013, at the inauguration of the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme Maternal and Child Health otherwise known as MAMA Project, she stated that henceforth that her name would no longer be Patience but Mama Peace.
SHE HAS HER OWN SEAL OF OFFICE
Yes, she has her own seal and she uses it during public functions (see picture).
This action itself has generated some controversy and criticism because the office of the First Lady as it is, is not recognized in the Nigerian Constitution. Only the Commander-in-Chief (and others as stipulate)is allowed to use a Presidential Seal on his lectern while speaking in public.
The Dame is quite a sociable woman and she is usually seen with her retinue or battalion, of friends.
Some of her closest allies include the wife of the Vice President, Hajia Amina Sambo (she calls her her ‘twin sister’), wealthy businesswoman, Hajia Bola Shagaya (who has been friends to the Aso Rock for decades since Maryam Babangida’s time), Helen Mark, wife of the Senate President (she once referred to her as her ‘younger friend’), Yemisi Suswan, the wife of the Governor of Benue State, many other state First Ladies, female ministers and wives of military service chiefs.
SHE WAS ONCE REFERRED TO AS JESUS CHRIST
Irrespective of the opinion you hold of the Nigerian First Lady, there are those who are absolutely in love with her and will do anything to defend her and proclaim their loyalty. One of such people is Evans Bipi, member representing Ogu Bolo State Constituency in the Rivers State House of Assembly. In an interview, he stated:
“People are misinterpreting this Jesus Christ on earth. Let me say this. Man is God to man; it is in the Bible. You must not see God; you will see God through somebody. God said, see me through Jesus Christ. That is why we are seeing God through Jesus Christ. This woman (Patience Jonathan) is everything in my life. She made me what I am today.”
Politically and otherwise; I can say it anywhere. I can say she is my Jesus Christ because she has made me who I am today. That is the truth and I can defend that anywhere. Babangida’s wife was from Delta State. Her people called her mummy. Yar’Adua’s wife is from Katsina, all the people from Katsina call her mummy. Even Governor Rotimi Amaechi’s wife, the people call her mummy. When a woman attains such level, everybody calls her mummy. It is a form of respect to her. But to me, my mummy (Patience Jonathan) is special because she brought me up to this level.
SHE HAS A BOISTEROUS MEDIA TEAM
In a nation of over 170 million people, you will do well to shield yourself from criticism of many as the First Lady of the nation. Well, she has a solid team in place and this team works under the ‘Office of the First Lady’ and they are known for releasing statements and counter statements on her behalf.