By Hajiya Jamila Ahmadu
We are constrained to write this open letter to you having watched your activities as First Lady especially those recently covered in both print and other media.
Frankly speaking, we find your behavior outrageous and annoying especially in the light of the current state of the nation.
The most shocking part, which prompted this open letter was your latest stunt – the invitation (tantamount to summoning) to Presidential aspirants to have Iftar with you in the villa. On what grounds did you decide to do this? This is a sheer show of power and abuse of office. An office which by the way doesn’t even exist constitutionally.
To educate you more, the Nigerian Constitution does not make provision or guidelines for the first lady’s role, duties, or power. Though wholly unconstitutional we know that presidents and military dictators have had to devote huge budgets to servicing an office that never existed in our constitution. Since independence, first ladies have been interpreting the office according to their personalities, the state of the nation and the tone of the government in power. The Nigerian public has no say in the first lady’s functions or her role since office is extraconstitutional.
However, there are minimum standards of behavior befitting of a first lady and there is an unwritten code of conduct. With that privilege comes responsibly and a huge dose of humility. You possess neither. Rather you have gone overboard and succeeded in upsetting Nigerians (including your guests – the presidential aspirants) who honored the invitation out of respect for your husband. They were forced to sit and listen to your pointless and meaningless speeches. You have belittled the office of president and the high position of the Nigerian president and commander-in-chief which the aspirants are vying for. To what end exactly? Is it to show that you have power or just for your ego?
Madam, with due respect, you need to know your place and set yourself limits. You are not that high up in the pecking order to host these distinguished persons. This syndrome is what befell so many first ladies who wielded imaginary power including Maryam Abatcha, Turai Yar Adua, and Patience Jonathan, only to discover that they didn’t possess one tiny fraction of the power they thought they had. Soon you will join that club of former first ladies seeking attention but becoming irrelevant and looking pathetic once a new president is sworn in.
What makes your case even more surprising, is your antecedents. It is public knowledge that you were once a beautician and masseuse in a beauty parlor in Kaduna. Where do you get this delusion of grandeur from? How do you forget your humble beginnings and turn into a conceited narcissist of a first lady?
Second grouse, madam, is your insensitivity to the plight of common Nigerians. How is it that you have no qualms about living your best life abroad whist majority of Nigerians suffer in the worst conditions ever. Your lack of empathy and indifference to the frightful state of the nation especially the North is sickening.
Right now, you should be visiting and supporting families of the dead or kidnapped or those traumatized by the violence. Instead of identifying with them, you removed yourself and your children from the nightmare situation and ran to Dubai and Turkey. Subhanallah!
Your Excellency, there’s more … Nigerians are fed up with their first lady galivanting around the world with an entourage of sycophants on so-called working visits. Are you oblivious to the fact that you are wasting Nigeria’s scarce foreign exchange? Don’t you all know that the economy is in a precarious and very delicate state? This is a time for austerity measures not for you and your first lady cronies to travel on government expense to sing and serve you a birthday cake in Dubai! What’s wrong with the huge villa? That was a huge blunder.
Anyway, in case you and your clueless cronies didn’t know, Nigeria is a poor developing country in a state of social and financial instability. We are not at par with the US, Europe, or Japan. We don’t have the luxury of wasting public funds for your enjoyment which even rich countries’ first ladies don’t do. We are not a monarchy, and you are not a Queen.
As we write this letter, hundreds of families are living in hell due to killings and kidnappings. Are you not aware that while you were chilling abroad, that a Kaduna-bound train from Abuja was attacked and several people were killed and many kidnapped? Have you been to visit their families? Did you invite them to the villa to commiserate with them?
Your Excellency, this not what we signed up for! We want a kind and selfless first lady with empathy towards the poor and vulnerable. We demand that you stay put or if you must travel, then, visit victims of violence like those in Plateau, Kaduna, Katsina, and also the disaster zones in Imo to provide succor to them. Its your moral duty and, God knows we have endured your excesses and Insha Allah, like Marie Antoinette, your exit is around the corner.
In conclusion, we advise that you feel the pulse of the nation and change your ways accordingly. Fear Allah and heed the words of advice below:
1. Do good, seek Allah’s forgiveness, and humble yourself. Allah loves not those who transgress beyond bounds…for the Mercy of Allah is always near to those who do good. (Al-Araf 7:55-56)
2. Resist the urge to speak out publicly against your husband’s government. You are only embarrassing yourself and projecting your family as an uncouth and uncultured one. Don’t believe what people tell you. It’s wrong and disloyal – washing your husband’s dirty laundry in public is a no-no even in developed countries.
3. Spend more time at home in Nigeria to care for your elderly husband, fellow women, orphans and the downtrodden. Go out of your way to motivate young Nigerians especially girls, patronize made in Nigeria products and promote local entrepreneurs.
5. Make time to visit victims of violence especially poor women and orphans – do it in person not by proxy. Make effort to relate with the sick in hospital – pay medical bills for the poor vulnerable/disabled people.
6. Do not believe sycophants. They will lie to you and tell you this letter is the work of your detractors. It isn’t…it is the truth take it or leave it.
Hajiya Jamila Ahmadu
For: Concerned Women of Nigeria