First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan, and wife of Nigeria’s former Head of State and APC presidential candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari, Hajiya Aishat, were in Ilorin, the Kwara state capital, to mobilise women for their spouses ahead of Saturday’s presidential elections. UMAR BAYO ABDULWAHAB captures the two events
In a last minute efforts to woo electorates to vote for their spouses in the March 28 rescheduled presidential elections, wives of presidential candidate of All Progressive Congress (APC), General Muhammadu Buhari, Hajiya Aishat, and that of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP),Mrs Dame Patience Jonathan were last week in Ilorin, Kwara state capital.
Their visits to members of the two parties’ significance could be located within very crucial context of strengthening political fortunes towards success in the elections. To the APC, it was a moment of sober reflection, day of enlightenment, encouragement and hope of a better tomorrow for the womenfolk if they voted General Buhari.
And for the PDP women, it was a day of appraisal of women under the Jonathan’s administration, counting blessings ,re -assurance and confidence building that the ruling PDP will survive it current turbulence period, hence the need to re-elect president Jonathan.
It was a Monday afternoon and women had waited anxiously until the aircraft conveying the wife of former head of state arrived Ilorin International Air port around 12:43 pm.
She was received t the air port by wife of the state governor,Mrs Omolewa Ahmed and members of kwara state officials wives association as well as APC women leaders in the state.
From the airport,her first port of call was the palace of the emir of Ilorin, Alhaji Ibrahim Sulu Gambari where she informed the royal father of her mission in his domain and seek for his blessing .
From the palace she was drove to the Ahamdu Bello Way seat of power, Government House Ilorin to pay a courtesy call on the state governor, Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed.
She was accompanied by wife of the Buhari’s runing mate,Mrs Dolapo Osinbanjo, Nassarawa state governor,Hajia Mairo Almakura,APC national woman leader,Hajia Ramat Tijani Aliyu and wife of the state governor ,Mrs Omolewa Ahmed and wife of the former governor of the state Barrister Toyin Saraki was on a two-day citizens outreach and town hall meeting with women in the state.
At the Government House, Buhari’s wife told the governor that she was in the state for a two-day citizen’s outreach and town hall meeting with women ahead of the general elections.
She said the event became necessary because women constitute major Percentage of voters and that the real supporters of her husband are masses who do not even have access to television. She said women constituted 55 per cent of registered voter’s in Nigeria.
She stressed the need to educate prospective voters especially the women on how to identify the APC’s logo and vote rightly ahead of the March 28 and April 11 general elections.
This, according to her became imperative in view of the fact that the APC presidential candidate had at different times been in the All Nigeria’s Peoples Party (ANPP),Congress For Progressive Change (CPC) while governors of the mega parties have also chanted different party slogans.
“The whole issue rally rounds women as you are all aware that women are the major voters. Specifically now, 54 per cent of women constitute the number of registered voters in Nigeria. And our duty is to educate the women who are the major voters. Our responsibility is to educate the women on how to vote, educate them on the party and the logo.
“A lot of people that joined the party were chanting different slogans of different political parties and the illiterate can hardly identify where they are now.
So it is so important for us to educate the electorate about the broom. Our major supporters are masses; masses, masses and masses especially knowing the presidential candidate of the mega party.
He was in ANPP, then CPC and now APC which is not easy for people that are not literate to identify it easily. So as I always say that we should always identify ourselves with broom”, she said
Buhari’s wife recalled an encounter with a woman in a public transport who said she would vote for Buhari but when asked about the logo of Buhari’s party, she mentioned corn which is the logo of former party which he belonged to .
She said the woman could not be convinced that Buhari’s new party’s logo is the broom which is the symbol of APC.
First lady’s campaign train hit Ilorin
And while Buhari’s wife was still in the state, the campaign train of the first lady,Mrs Dame Jonathan hit the state. The first lady’s visit was the second this year. She had earlier visited the state to distribute empowerment materials for women through her pet project, Women For Change Development and Initiative.
But last Tuesday’s visit was purposely to woo women to vote for her husband and ruling PDP government. For about two weeks, the news of her visit to the state had rented the air.
Her mission this time around was clear; a PDP Women Campaign Rally. Therefore she went straight to business on arrival from the air port, she moved straight to the venue of the event.
At the event, held at the open field of the Niger River Basin Development Authority,Ilorin, Patience used the occasion to highlights how her husband’s administration’s had positively touched the lives of women in the state.
The president’s wife told the crowd of women and youth members of the PDP that her husband is a messier sent to deliver Nigeria from it tribulations saying God had revealed to her that the APC will lose elections. She described the current APC government in the state as a stolen mandate and promised that the original owners of the mandate, the PDP, will reclaim it after the election.
The first lady linked the APC to an expired drug without a proper identity which is dangerous to man. Mrs Jonathan also defended the office of First Lady, arguing that contrary to claims by the opposition, there is provision for the office.
“PDP is not shaken, as far as we are there; there is no need for trouble. You know that Mama Peace, your mother is peace loving so the children must also be peace loving. Women are peace makers and nay woman that makes trouble is not worth to be called a woman.
“Before I went to Edo state, the APC was there, all to make trouble. I have always been telling them that like to make trouble. I wanted to go to Edo, they were there. Why? To make trouble. I wanted to come to Kwara, they were there. Why? To make trouble. As I was coming today at the airport, they were also coming so that there will be trouble but I told my security people that I am a Mother of Peace, so let them go in peace. We wives of political leaders should not make trouble so even if they come to you to make trouble, don’t fall for their trick.
“Kwara is PDP. They only stole the mandate because the Government House they are occupying today is in the name of PDP. We shall take it over. Every day they change from one name to another and very soon they will change to Ebola and then death will come. My God that I serve has told me that they will fail. So don’t be deceived, don’t listen to their lies.
“There is office for wife of President but they were saying there is none. But soon they brought one ‘Hajia’ as wife of the President and she is now saying, don’t worry my husband made a mistake, we shall make provisions as necessary. Don’t believe what they are saying, hold to what you have because it is better that what you are yet to see.
While making reference to the age of Buhari, she said, “I am a person that will tell the truth. I will not abuse people but if you are old you are old so leave it to younger people.”
The wives of the two presidential candidates have come and gone but not without leaving some lessons to learn from their visits.
One important one for people to learn is the issue of voter education which the wife of the former head of state had raised. And from the president’s wife is the admonition that women should not allowed themselves to be dragged into the dirty politics being played by their spouses. Women should be more concerned on issues affecting them and children and set agenda for leaders at all level on how to make life better for them.