Saturday, 16 February 2013

Women Protesters Against N4 Billion 1st Lady Mission House Call For Scrapping Of 'First Lady' Office

Nigerian women under the aegis of Women Arise today marched in protest against a proposed wasteful allocation of N4billion to building a ‘Mission House’ for President Goodluck Jonathan’s wife, Mrs. Patience Faka Jonathan.

Led by the group’s leader, Dr. Joe Okei Odumankin, the women marched to the office of Lagos State’s Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola.

Others who led the protesters to oppose the wasteful proposal of N4billion for Mrs. Jonathan’s ‘Mission House’ include Mrs. Abosede Ransome Kuti and the Director of Gender and Development Action, Mrs. Ada Agina Ude.

Human rights lawyer, Festus Keyamo also joined the protest in solidarity.

Apart from their argument that the proposed N4billion would create numerous jobs for women and youths, the women offered that only one-tenth of the proposed N4billion for building ‘Mission House’ for Mrs. Jonathan could restore the abandoned Women Development Center (WDC) for Mrs. Jonathan to use as “Mission House” in the interest of all women and in place of an extravagant building to be constructed as a personal building.

To show the sufferings of the majority Nigerian women in the country where only one woman amasses wealth for herself, widow of late Dr. Beko Kuti, Mrs. Abosede Ransome Kuti showed to Governor Fashola, some boxes of matches, a sachet of ‘pure water’ and a piece of onion which she said she bought from women she encountered on her way at Oshodi.

Mrs. Kuti said the women suffer a great deal to sell units of those wares at profits they can barely survive on, whereas only one woman The first lady) would use N4billion to build a mission house.
Dr. Okei-Odumakin criticized that the position of ‘First Lady’, which bleeds the nation of funds for trivial official ventures describing it as unconstitutional. Mr. Festus Keyamo buttressed that the position regarding the First Lady office, he stated in his speech that, “aside being unconstitutional, it is being used offensively on Nigerians.”, he said

Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka also sent a letter criticizing the wasteful proposal of N4billion in solidarity with the protesting women, the letter was read and handed to Governor Fashola as part of the letter to be presented to President Goodluck Jonathan, condemning the wasteful project the president’s wife is set to embark on. Governor Fashola received the women’s letter, promising to deliver them to President Jonathan later today.

The Full letter:
THE PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA Nigerian women under the aegis of Women Arise for Change Initiative are scandalized by the culture of waste that has become the hallmark of governance in Nigeria, especially in recent times. The latest of such fiscal brigandage is the N4bn allocated for the building of an office for Nigeria’s First Lady, Patience Jonathan’s African First Ladies Mission Initiative. The allocation, which is provided for in the Federal Capital Territory’s 2013 Budget, is an affront to Nigerians and should be vehemently resisted by all right-thinking members of the society. Even in an era where fiscal irresponsibility is the norm, and not the exception, the allocation is an extraordinarily egregious insult on Nigerians.
To budget such a humongous amount of public funds for a ceremonial office that is not recognized by the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is a resounding slap on the collective visage of the majority of Nigerians at a time when tens of millions live on less than a dollar per day.
To do so when the majority of Nigerians are the unwilling patients of a poverty pandemic deriving from criminally poor leadership is tantamount to spreading salt on an open wound. The office of the First Lady is not a creation of the constitution. Rather, it is the despicable child of the whim and caprices of our nation’s cruel elite.
It is instructive that it acquired its notoriety in the prodigal Ibrahim Babangida years, where the military dictator’s wife, Maryam wasted billions on the titular “Better Life for Rural Women” programme.
This culture of rampant wastage has since been embraced by the spouses of successive heads of government, particularly under the current democratic dispensation.
We fervently maintain that a government with an appropriate sense of responsibility and an eye on posterity would utilize the resources to be wasted on Mrs. Jonathan’s flight of fancy on critical infrastructure. To do otherwise, is to be insensitive and irresponsible.
Four billion naira could help millions of school age children to get better education, equip rural clinics with drugs and do society a lot of other good.
Therefore, as responsible citizens and mothers of the nation, we demand the following:
1. The President must direct the FCT Minister to withdraw this budget allocation and sack him for this attack on public morality.
2. The unconstitutional office of the First Lady should be scrapped, and spouses of elected officials to do no more than ceremonial roles.
We ask all honest women and men in our country to support these demands with concrete actions.

Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin
Women Arise for Change Initiative

Source Osun defender

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