They Wield Enormous Powers in his Cabinet
By OHIA ISRAEL
Since May 6th 2010, when President Jonathan took over the helms of affairs of the Country, many women have been appointed into his administration, but of all these women few are regarded as super women. These women, DESERT HERALD gathered, may have become super women either through what they have done or the controversies surrounding them.
DESERT HERALD takes a deep look into their activities while in office and how they are running their ways in the administration of President Jonathan as over the past two years of the Goodluck Jonathan administration, a number of women have shot into prominence, most of them because of the positions they occupy. Incidentally, some of the women have found themselves at the end of sharp criticisms from the populace especially in view of their past actions over which aspersions have been cast on them.
Patience Jonathan: Nigeria’s Defacto President?
Will her reported sickness reduce her overbearing power in Aso Rock? Some critics even said that President Jonathan’s mood and even appearance has changed at a time his powerful wife was in hospital bed in Germany. He was unusually fresh last week, making people to speculate that the powerful woman has all along been a nuisance, a necessary evil for him to live with. She is no doubt more powerful than the commander in chief. As gathered by this paper, the First Lady Dame Patience is doing as her title suggests, accordingly Dame is originally an official title of a Female member of the order of the British Empire which is equivalent to a knight. Though Mrs. Jonathan is not a member of the British Empire, she however exerts enormous power and authority that would make America’s First Lady, Michelle Obama, green with envy. As learnt by this medium, since becoming Nigeria’s President many men and women have really emerged as power brokers in Jonathan’s government but none of these people have had domineering influence on the President like the First Lady herself.
Since the ascension of President Goodluck Jonathan into power, quite a number of men and women have clearly emerged as power brokers. Some of these personalities played crucial roles in getting President Jonathan elected and are wielding enormous powers of influence in the polity today. But none has been able to have a domineering influence on Mr. President like the First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan.
Infact from onset Mrs. Jonathan has remained a pillar of sorts to her husband the President; she even achieved a feat for herself by becoming the first woman to set up parallel campaign team for her husband in the history of democracy in the country. All other wives go to campaign grounds with their husbands but Patience had her own separate structure. She has also remained very visible as First Lady. Unarguably, she is one of the greatest power brokers around Jonathan. Many who want patronage from government go through her. With her matrimonial bond to the President, she is said to have not only helped Jonathan at the home front, but also influenced some government decisions, especially appointments.
However, aside her love and ultimate support to her husband the President, lays a mysterious vocation which has made the president become a weakling in the power chess game with her adversaries. The first lady has demonstrated her prowess many a times, showing that he cannot be toyed with and that whatever she wants she gets.
For instance, two years ago the First Lady took the microphone and openly rebuked the Governor of Rivers State, Rotimi Amaechi, over a planned demolition exercise in the First Lady’s hometown. The Governor’s attempt to explain was snubbed as Mrs. Jonathan said “you must listen to me”. After some complaints, some governmental agencies were asked to investigate. That was the end of the matter.
There was also a recent proof that as the First Lady, Mrs. Jonathan knows how to get what she wants in the land tussle involving her and Mrs. Yar’ Adua. The C of O of a land that had earlier been allocated to a Non-Governmental Organization linked to the former first lady was revoked and another one issued in favour of another organization that has links to Mrs. Jonathan, an indication that Mrs. Jonathan has people who are willing to do her bidding.
So it never come as a surprise that she was elected President of the African First Ladies Peace Mission (AFLPM) after a four-day convention which costs the Nigerian government millions of naira to host though many have questioned the wisdom behind the hosting of the convention at a time when the country is embroiled in security and economic crises.
Sources close to the First Family told this paper that Patience’s hold on the President is griping such that no one gets favourable consideration of the President on appointments and contracts without the First Lady’s recommendation or consent. Many top politicians within the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) have gotten federal appointments by curring the favour of the First Lady.
Patience’s profilgacy and utter naked show of power is also legendary. It is an open secret in the Villa that Patience is an incorrugible collector of ostentatious items such as gold and diamonds. Many attest to her penchant for these items as she usually spend fortunes on latest fabrics and rings each time she is out of the country. It is also on record that she is always on the entourage of her husband whenever the President travels out on official assignments. She also has her own entourage all the time and usually her entourage is more than that of the President with full estacodes paid to members of her entourage whenever they travel with the president.
There has never been a trip outside Nigeria that she has not accompained her husband.
For Lagosians who are yet to experience official recklessness and abuse of office by Her Excellency got a full dose of her contraption when she visited Lagos on Thursday, April 12, 2012 for the ‘Peace Advocacy Tour’ which caused heavy traffic gridlock as security operatives took over the Island blocking major roads. The incident was a great discomfort to many commuters who had to trek or take commercial motorcycles to their destinations. Same also happened as Ibadan paid host to the commotion of the Abuja invaders as political aides of the governor and journalists had raw deals in the hands of soldiers and operatives of the State Security Service (SSS) attached to the First Lady. Many residents of the oil rich Warri township in Delta State would not forget in a hurry when the First Lady came calling recently.
Nigerians now know that a shadow government is operating in the country put up by Dame Patience Jonathan. However, the First Lady’s shadow government seems to be more powerful than the actual government headed by the person they voted for.
Diezani Allison Madueke: The Oil Magnate Woman
For this woman, she has been regarded as another powerful woman in Nigeria after the First Lady. In the social media circles she has been given an acronym as “DAM”. Today she is in charge of the Petroleum Ministry which is responsible for most of the country’s wealth. Diezani’s ascendency to power started in 2007 when she became Minister of Transport and from there she moved to the Mines and Power Ministry and upon the making of Jonathan Goodluck as President she became Nigeria’s first female Minister of Petroleum Resources.
Today she is regarded as one of the most controversial ministers in recent times, however unlike other Ministers who are either changed or also redeployed Madueke has retained her position.
Mrs. Madueke’s controversy started far back as 2007 when it was alleged that she paid about N30.9 billion to contractors in her capacity as Transport Minister. She was probed by the Senate and after having denied any wrongdoing, the matter died a natural death. Yet again in 2008, the Senate recommended that the Minister should be prosecuted for paying N1.2 billion naira into the private account of a toll company without due process and in breach of concession agreement. Till date however, the matter has not been mentioned in any court of law.
However, many have expected that she will go during the fuel subsidy crisis in January, as calls for her removal became an issue, but the same woman has continued to stay in office and to cap it up, it is believed that she is one of those who dictate who gets what in Nigeria’s oil sector.
Ngozi Okonjo Iweala: Nigeria’s Defacto Prime Minister
To many after her successful spell during the Obasanjo regime, which she negotiated for a debt relief with the Paris Club, a group of creditors, a lot of Nigerians today thought that her coming back will be more goodies galore, the reverse today has become the order of the day.
This woman has become one of the most powerful people in the federal executive Cabinet of Mr. President, as she is regarded as the defacto Prime Minister. Today she doubles as Finance Minister and Coordinating Minister of the Economy. She was one of those criticized for the fuel subsidy removal embarked upon on by the Government in January.
Astonishingly, under her watch as the Coordinating Minister of the Economy, the money being paid as subsidy became much more than what was allocated for the purpose. Nigeria’s debt burden has increased, and she has the budget implementation issue to cope with, leading to insinuations that she might have lost her magic.
Princess Stella Oduah: New queen of Aso rock
Stella’s generous friendship disposition was also extended to women hence when it was becoming obvious that Goodluck Jonathan would take over the governance of the country from then ailing Yar’Adua, she struck a strong bond with incoming First Lady, Patience Jonathan. By this time, she had so wormed her ways into the heart of Jonathan and his wife that when the former assumed full presidential power after the death of his boss, she was allocated a ministerial slot by Jonathan.
A dutiful wife, when the ministerial offer came her way, Stella cleverly gave it to her husband hence Chris was not only appointed Minister but was also given the juicy ministry of works. “The position gave Chris lots of power and as you know there were women throwing themselves at him which did not go down well with Stella. But a clever woman, she did not show her displeasure as she was preoccupied with making money and becoming more and more cordial with the Jonathans,” our source said.
Her relationship with the Jonathans was not only bringing in political gains but also bringing in monetary gains in the process as by this time Stella and her SPG have grown into one of the major players in the oil and gas industry with her company being listed as one of those collecting juicy subsidy receipts from the federal government.
As the countdown to the last election started with the national convention of the PDP approaching, Stella became the Director of Finance and Administration of the Jonathan/Sambo Campaign Organisation making her the administrative boss of the campaign team of the president.
It was Stella who engineered and disbursed the huge sums of money spent by the Jonathan team during the national convention in which each of the 3, 000 delegates was paid US$7, 000 apart from N250, 000 each as transport and accommodation allowance. In all N4.13 billion was expended on the national convention.
She was a prominent player in the formation of the Billionaires Club formed to raise money for the Jonathan team and it was after the end of the inaugural meeting of the club that the oil subsidy money rose astronomically. That was when oil marketers started making mysterious oil subsidy claims and Stella was not left out. First she allegedly claimed N5 billion as money she spent on the campaign headquarters while her company, SPG made another claim of N5 billion for oil subsidy. Suffice to add that Stella’s request was approved and paid within 24 hours, so was her powerful position.
Stella also established the Neighbour-to-Neighbour outfit. Although she registered it as a non-governmental organisation, events have proved that the organisation was another publicity arm of the Jonathan team. With Stella, huge sums of money was always allocated to the team. In March, the team gave a whopping N55 million for a single slot and by the end of that month, Neighbour-to-Neighbour has disbursed a whopping N7.3 billion on adverts. In April of the election year, N107 billion was disbursed. During the last subsidy protest against the removal of oil subsidy by Jonathan administration, Neighbour-to-Neighbour spent billions of naira on adverts as publicity stunt for the president.
To underline the power of Stella, the coordinator of Neighbour, Mike Omeruo had been appointed the Director General of the National Orientation Agency (NOA). When Jonathan was sworn-in for the present disposition, it was so natural that Stella should be rewarded with another ministerial slot. However, if Chris thought she would graciously give him the slot again, he was in for a great surprise as Stella not only decided to have a taste of political power herself but also show Chris the way out by simply divorcing him. Today Stella is using her maiden name, Oduah while she was put in charge of the strategic and lucrative Ministry of Aviation even though she was not trained in that line.
Stella is regarded not only as Queen in politics and business but also in the affairs of men. She was reported to be very friendly and cordial with a popular actor, married to a popular television presenter and now a commissioner in a South South state.
The actor was reported to be having a close relationship with the younger sister of Stella but the older woman reportedly wooed the actor with her own kind of friendship. Apart from this, she was also reported to be very friendly with a serving minister and a former GMD of the NNPC.
Today, Stella is regarded as the power behind the oil and gas power play in the country and as she continues to wax stronger with 2015 firmly in her sight, she can rightly be described as the power behind the throne. Of course she will always remain her friendly self. More astounding was the claim by a prominent member of the presidential campaign team and now Minister of Aviation, Mrs. Stella Oduah-Ogiemwonyi that she had spent her personal N5 billion on the campaign and she was paid immediately. Stella Oduah’s company where she was the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Sea Petroleum and Gas, submitted an oil subsidy claim of N5 billion and the money was paid.
With the fake oil subsidy fund readily available, the Jonathan team continued its lavish spending. On March 16th 2011, N55 million was paid to a media company for a single slot of advert. By the end of March, a total of N7.3 billion has been paid on adverts alone.
Aruma Oteh: Emerging Amazon in power
While the issue of fuel subsidy and the bribery allegation that trailed it were the major topics being discussed across the country, the issue of the reinstatement of Aruma Oteh, the Director General of the Securities and Exchange Commission became the most commonly discussed issue. Those who had thought with the suspension Oteh was as good as gone are now having a rethink and even the staff that carried placards to protest her reinstatement have since cooled down for fear that heads might roll.
In spite of the harrowing probe sessions, nothing was found against the SEC Director General, thus making her recall look like a “go and sin no more” movie plot. Incidentally, the women are all united by one fact, most of their actions are unchecked and their errors overlooked.
DESERT HERALD exclusively gathered over the weekend that the only reason why former Director-General of Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Aruma Oteh, was reinstated was because of her close relationship to Dame Patience Jonathan, who allegedly prevailed on her husband to allow the controversial SEC boss return to her post despite indignation expressed by the Board of Directors and staff of the commission. Oteh, according to sources, is one of the lackeys of the First Lady, hence she is always under her protective shield.
It would be recalled that the SEC board had suspended her over suspicions of gross abuse of her office and incompetence and to pave way for a thorough investigation of her stewardship. Oteh proceeded on the leave only by not being physically present in her office, but had a few times, attended state functions at the Aso Rock Villa to the chagrin and muted protests of some senior civil servants who expressed their shock to the media, under anonymity.
The suspended ‘iron – lady’ at SEC had reportedly assured those close to her that her ordeal was just a tempest that would “sooner than later blow away”. It was a shocked nation and infuriated SEC workers that received the news of her recall by the Federal Government. Just a day later, the House of Representatives adopted the report of its ad hoc committee which investigated the troubled Capital Market which she superintended over.
The House recommended that she be sacked by Jonathan. The recommendation of a panel chaired by Hon. Ibrahim Tukur El – Sudi stated inter alia: ‘that the appointment of Ms Aruma Oteh be terminated forthwith as Director General of SEC as her appointment is in violation of section 3, subsection 2 and sections 38 and 315 of the Investment and Securities Act 2007″.
A resolution was unanimously passed on the recommendation by the Members of the House. But the embattled Oteh is way ahead of her “traducers”. Sources say since her ordeal with the Ad hoc committee began few months ago, she had moved from office to office in Aso Rock to ensure the lawmakers failed. A first – grade brain, Oteh is also said to be highly politically – savvy.
Not leaving things to chance, she had taken her matters into her own hands, pressing buttons in the most powerful vortexes of power. Our sources say she had the ears of the president through his closest and most powerful aides. A source gave reasons why Ms. Oteh could not be removed. He said the frosty relationship which exists between the presidency and the House of Representatives was a major plus for Oteh.
The source said President Jonathan would be reluctant to be dictated to by a House that he felt had serially manifested a bellicose attitude towards him. “More so, what are we talking about separation of power when the House of Representatives habitually orders the president to sack this person and that person? The president should be allowed to do his job,” the source, an Aso Rock member, told this newspaper.
November 27, 2013 //
BY DR. HAKEEM BABA-AHMED “Politics is so corrupt, even the dishonest get screwed.”- George Carlin...
November 19, 2013 //
By Sanusi Muhammad Although 2015 elections are a bit far away from now, the campaign train of Pre...
November 5, 2013 //
Sponsored media war against Gov Suntai: BY SANUSI MUHAMMAD Ideally sane mind could have ignore...
June 19, 2013 //
BY MALLAM NUHU RIBADU I confess to feeling inspired with every visit to this institution that shap...
April 9, 2013 //
BY THE PUNCH From 1973 until his death in 1987, I was an 'Awolowo-man'. I still am! In some ways, C...
April 9, 2013 //
BY AHMAD SAJOH Let me start by saying that I have tremendous respect for Alhaji Bamanga Tukur. I se...
April 9, 2013 //
BY IFEANYI CHUKWU NWANNAH The former aide and propagandist of two civilian Governor of Zamfara Stat...
April 7, 2013 //
BY HARUNA MOHAMMED The quest for good governance, freedom of association, good healthcare, basic ...