Valuable Wives in Power, By Ose Oyamendan-Eimakhu

OSE OYAMENDAN

I had no clue there was that much “red” in Nigeria until Valentine’s Day. You gotta love Nigerians, despite the bleakness out there, no one can hold them down. This was something bigger than Christmas and Independence days combined. Even old women who you thought had retired from those things that induce headache had a dash of red in their clothing.

And, I guess in the spirit of Valentine Day some very ingenious Nigerians came up with what I think is a coup. They call it the most valuable governors’ wives award. And, in true Nigerian fashion, they made sure it reflects the geo-political zones of the country. Man, these guys should be running someone’s campaign.

Who knew a woman gets to compete for an award just because she’s married to a governor! Absolutely bank-account filling creative! Here I was, thinking a governor gets elected, appoints his advisers and aides and go about his business. But, I have been wrong all along. People know that the real power does not lie with the “oga at the top” but with the “oga at the top’s madam”. A position that has no place in the constitution now does not only have budgetary allocations but also an award for it.

I can’t even imagine the conversation in the household of a governor when the list of nominees comes out and a his first lady is not on it. How would a governor feel that his wife has fallen short again? Is it that he’s not expending enough security funds on her and her office? Or is it that his political enemies are at work again? How will he show his face at the national council of state meeting knowing some governors are snickering at him because his wife is not up to par?

Awards are the coolest things in Nigeria. They pop up like candy and flowers on Valentine’s Day. Every industry has a few awards. But, like everything in life, we have forgotten the little people – the folks who make the country thick. Has anyone ever thought of an award for the best housemaid? Or the best gateman? Or, best toy boy?

I was complaining about this obvious lack of spread in awards when a very mischievous and unpatriotic friend asks a question that should make her spend a long time in the slammer. “We all agree that this is a very corrupt country,” she began, “why not have MVP awards for the most corrupt governor, senator, house of representative member, minister and so on and so forth? That would be an award Nigerian genuinely get into”

Been the very patriotic person that I am, it took the Christian in me to stop from wrestling with her. The insults on our public officials have to stop. These folks work for peanuts, sacrifice their lives and people want to fault them for riding in multi-million naira cars, living in multi-billion naira houses and having a fleet of partners with stuffed bags. Is it a sin to be a public official? Are they the teachers of the new century and they should expect their rewards in heaven? People need to be more grateful.

I have always campaigned for women governors  but now I have an added incentive. If we have two women governors, I can start my own competition for the most valuable governor’s husband award. I will go straight to the point with MVP of governor’s husbands’ award, my house won’t build itself. It would have nothing to do with the bedroom or roles not recognized by the constitution. It would all be about the money – whoever pays more will be my governor’s husband of the year. 2015 can’t come too soon.

BOW AND GO

I wish this phenomenon was around when I was younger, you know – ministers showing up before the Senate, taking a bow and going on their merry way to their new offices. No questions asked, no pre-assessment on their plans and absolutely the question every Nigerian wants to ask, “will you chop our money” is a no-go area.

If it were around earlier, when the time came for kids to present their report cards to their parents, they could simply show up at home, bow to their father, swath a wad of cash from the family account and take a stroll.

It’s a great world where the highest officials in the land are held to no standards, where the fact that they have been former generals or assembly members qualifies them for public offices without question. It may not be laziness but who cares when you slap the faces of your electorates. Their necks are barely hanging on their necks anyway so they won’t understand what it means to “bow and go”.

Forget the little matter that a few of the heads of the national assembly have had to take a long trek into infamy. Ignore the little detail that if a man had done to another man what the military had done to Nigeria and the nation’s psyche and political development, they would have had to constitute a tribunal bigger than the International Court of Justice to try it. Just remember one thing – when you’re on your way to signing the big checks, the distinguished senators are not too blind to know they may hold the bread they realize who now has the butter.


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