The All Progressives Congress has decried what it described as the “melodramatic intervention” of the wife of the President, Patience Jonathan, in the abduction of over 200 schoolgirls in Chibok three weeks ago.
The party said her conduct had been “distracting, counter-productive and calibrated to scapegoat others with the sole intention of exculpating her husband” rather than finding the girls.
The Interim National Publicity Secretary of the Party, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said this in a statement in Lagos on Tuesday.
According to the party, there is nothing wrong in Patience, as a woman and the mother of the nation, playing a role in resolving the unfortunate abduction of the girls, but that role must be within the realm of social activism, not in policy making or conduct of state affairs.
It warned that melodrama, highlighted by the “shedding of made-for-television crocodile tears, could not and would not bring the girls back safely to their parents.”
The APC added, “What will bring them back is a purposeful and sustained effort by the Federal Government, which has hitherto been tentative and lethargic. Therefore, enough of the distracting, absurd and overbearing show that the First Lady has put up in the past few days.”
The spokesman for the First Lady, Mr. Ayo Adewuyi, said his principal’s intervention was simply a demonstration of her passion for Nigerian children.
Adewuyi said, “They are entitled to their own opinion. Every right thinking Nigerian would know that the general intervention was out of her passion for the children of Nigeria.
“Anybody can say whatever they want to say. But those who have the love of the country at heart would definitely know that it is her passion to see that these children are rescued.”
However, the APC advised the President’s wife to stop grandstanding and to get real by leading a protest of other First Ladies from all the 36 states of the federation from the Eagle Square to Aso Rock to pressurise her husband, President Goodluck Jonathan, on whose laps falls the responsibility of leading the nation to find the girls, to act fast.
It also urged the First Lady to stop apportioning blames at this time so that all efforts could be geared towards finding the girls.
The statement partly read, “Our dear First Lady needs to be told clearly that her husband, the President, is the nation’s Chief Security Officer. Our dear First Lady needs to be informed that because Borno State, where the unfortunate abduction took place, is under a state of emergency, her husband, the President, has automatically assumed all security powers.
“It is therefore wrong for our dear First Lady to be threatening to march on Borno to ask the governor to produce the girls. That march should be to Aso Rock instead.”
The party wondered where the First Lady derived the powers to summon elected and appointed officials to Aso Rock to answer her queries over the missing girls.
It noted that by doing so, she was usurping the President’s constitutional role, making him to look weak and ineffective in conducting the affairs of the state and also making Nigeria the butt of jokes in the international community.
The APC equally wondered if Mrs. Jonathan knew the implication of forcing security officials to divulge, on public television, sensitive information that could even hamper the search for the girls.
The party said, “How can a police commissioner, who is not accountable to the governor of a state, be subject to the First Lady? Where in the Constitution, or any law for that matter, is the role and powers of the First Lady delineated or articulated?’’
APC said if Mrs. Jonathan would not heed the advice to stop summoning public officials, then the officials should stop honouring such illegal and unconstitutional summons.
It said, “Apparently, the First Lady believed, as she revealed on public television and as it has been insinuated in certain quarters, that the girls’ abduction was a ruse, aimed at embarrassing her husband, hence neither she nor her husband took the whole tragedy seriously. That explains their delay in acting.”