Saturday, June 18, 2011

Dame Patience again

Patience Goodluck is in the news again and this time my gloves are OFF!!
The University of Port Harcourt has conferred on her an honorary Dokitarate of Widowhood studies.

My first blame isn’t with her, it’s with Professor Ajienka the VC of Uniport who is understandably seeking handsome donations for the University’s N5bn endowment fund. I understand. Really I do. After all, it has become popular for academic institutions to sell their souls for lucre. University of London is still clearing the mess of a $300,000 endowment fund from Libya’s Ghaddafi. Even my own Durham University got substantial funding from Israel to do some wonky research in Palestine. So if pedigreed schools like these are doing it, why not Uniport?

Be that as it may, that doesn’t make it right Prof Ajienka. 
You could have thought of other creative ways to inspire her donation glands. I can think of a few: 
Name the school's Art/photography studio after her. If she isnt an inspiring muse (look at what she inspired in TY Bello!!) I dont who is. 
Name the English Dept's lecture room after her. If you are an English student wouldn't her grammar inspire you to do better? 
Make her the celebrity Face for the Cancer dept's Skin cancer cause. "Use your umblella and prevent skin cancer". Heck all umbrellas used in the state should bear her image. 
Change the school's motto to 'where patience is found, therein lies goodluck'.

See?? I didnt even have to think hard about creative ways that would have helped you achieve your aim without offending Nigerians and yet inspire her purse.  Why make honorary doctorate degrees a joke?
I am not in your school’s shoes, I don’t know how it pinches. I am not even sure it pinches. For all I know, the 5bn endowment fund may just be another bottomless project that keeps taking without giving back. I don’t know. But, I do know that last year, under the chancellorship of Prof Badiem, UNIPORT’s honorary degrees were given to a more deserving group of people: Renowned jurist and former Chief Justice of the Federation, Justice Mohammed Uwais, Managing Director of World Bank, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, ex- governor of Cross River State, Mr. Donald Duke. Professor Sylvanus Cookey and Prof. Aniezonwu Okoro, a renowned professor of medicine.
I don’t need a visionary to tell me that you Prof Ajienka I fear, has thrown honor to the winds. If one’s choice is akin to one’s integrity or style of leadership, then yours is questionable.

As for the Dame, in accepting the honor you have joined in the deceit. I assume that before public announcements are made, the school would communicate with the receiver to be, intimating her of the award. If Patience had any humility if not honesty in her, she would have refused that degree, told them that she is unworthy of such an honor but thank them for they have spurred her to do even more. Since she didn’t do that and is probably rejoicing that her goodluck has prevailed once again, she will be the recipient of my rant.

What has Patience Goodluck done for widows? I am not talking of financial handouts loosely called empowerment given to a select few. Ordinary people can do even that out of their own volition. I am talking of a lasting solution to a widow’s experience. What has she done?
For someone who has some clout as the wife of a president she can do so much more. I want education for men. I want town hall meetings where she butts heads with elders about practices which dehumanise widows. I want bills which support a woman’s right to inherit even if her husband didn’t write a will. Bills which recognise a wife's contribution to a marriage. I want better support for legal organisations that do pro bono work for widows. I want ARV for widows living with AIDS.
I want her living and breathing widows. Look at Michelle the FLOTUS. Learn from her. She lives and breathes her cause to get American kids slim and yet without making as much noise as you, she is putting in place structures that will remain even after she is gone.

I would have wished the Dame to take on Maternal health which is dearer to me. but Widowhood is good. In fact it is a great point.

Last two years, I witnessed the plight of a widow close at hand, my cousin. If she had not been educated, had a husband who had been open to her about their properties and investments, had children who were adults and close kin, her story would have been similar to that of the millions of widows in Nigeria who lose both their ‘husband’ and a means to live ‘life’.
My cousin had to shave her hair when her husband died. She also had to chose between wearing white or black attires for 6 months.
Cutting the hair isn’t major, admitted, but it is a gendered tradition. Men do not cut their hair or make any physical representation of grief, heck in some places the guy can remarry in less than 6months. A woman dares not.

There are places where it is compulsory for a woman to stay locked up in a hut for 7 days without being allowed to bathe or change her clothes to show the extent of her grief…...a bit like using ash on your face and wearing sack clothes in the Jewish of old.

I know there are still places in eastern Nigeria where a widow is given to her husband’s brother to inherit. I exaggerate not. This particular lady didn’t have a child for her late husband so she was given to the husbands brother to impregnate. I met her in the hospital. Pregnant with AIDS from her new husband.

There are still places where a widow has to go to rivers and streams and swear before elders (mainly men) that she didn’t kill her husband. I should know, my great uncle God bless his soul, when he was dabbling in such matters used to be the chief priest in charge of such.

What has Patience Goodluck done to stop such practices?

In Nigeria, the typical advice given a woman if her husband dies is ; forget the crying now, mourn later. Go search his room, safe box, pack off all the documents you can find, if you own cars , find friends to drive them away to their homes or to some hideout, take away all precious items, jewelry, electronics in your home. When you’ve sorted that, then may you start mourning your beloved.
Ask the women whose in-laws took away all she and her husband had lovingly gathered – They were grief-stricken when the in-laws were spring cleaning. It’s not gold digging or greed. It’s war, it’s agency. It’s protecting your future and your kids future. And it shouldn’t be so.

Widows have a hard time in most communities in Nigeria and if Dame Patience has drawn a blueprint of what she wants to achieve with this pet cause, I will champion her. But she hasn’t and I don’t believe she intends to do more than slap the band aid of money when she feels like.
Interestingly her husband has single-handedly produced over a hundred widows, (help me do the maths and add up the number of married men who have died in massacres, bomb explosions, campaign stampede, riots in the past year under HIS tenure). Maybe she really is an Honorary Doctor of Widowhood (okay, that was a cheap shot but I’m vexed).

Dame, please, give it a rest.

I am really sick of seeing you in the news.


  1. I dont blame you for being angry but the truth is that a lot of educational institutions are all about profit making and attracting funding.

    In my field (Social Policy Research), I come across sooo many pompous intellectuals who are only focused on getting published; being appointed as government advisers or attracting research funding from corporates & Trusts.

    To be fair, the actions of LSE (Libyan funding); St Andrews (Syrian funding); Durham etc only shows that universities are no longer the bastions of learning we assume them to be.

    Values and ideals are compromised as soon as the right funding arrives. There has been so much noise made about the Middle East...where were western universities when women and children were been violated in Congo and Darfur?

    Ginger, I take universities - and academics - with a pinch of salt. Most are glory hunters.

    PS - sorry I rambled on :)))

  2. WEl, u really can't blame her in this case. Unless u know she solicited for the doctorate. It would be nice if she would do something about the plight of widows.

  3. Oh well, integrity has lost its meaning across all institutions: academics, medical, private & public sectors...'money for hand, back for ground'.
    Glad to see u @ mine, following u now, hope u

  4. i can tell you are really ticked off ... i like the motto "where patience is found, therein lies goodluck"
    the whole system is gone bunkers ... hope they use the money they get for the project though

  5. Wow Ginger, way to get my day going! I've read a couple of your previous posts but was too lazy to form my thoughts into a comment. This one though really hit me hard. Yes it's about Dame Jonathan but it's about much more than her. It is very heartbreaking to think of what reality is like for too many women in Nigeria.

    It would be amazing to see people use their influence to do something life changing instead of settle for empty, self-aggrandising gestures like this. In what way does this doctorate help widows or promote awareness of what they face? I actually thought the title you mentioned was a joke but apparently it's real. It would be nice if these widowhood studies actually bring about some improvement in the situation of widows in Nigeria but i'm not holding my breath.

  6. I agree with you on the plight of widows as it is still happening in our dear country. I hope like you said, Dame uses this doctorate to do more and I also hope that the university puts that money into good use.

  7. Very painful somethings about widows, and I doubt Mrs Goodluck can do much on her own. Forget about the academic institutions for now, though it is good that UPH has a Widowhood Studies Dept, it is about how policy making is regarded in Nigeria. What am I saying? There is almost nothing like policy making. Handouts are regarded as empowerments, with no structures to back them up. From poverty alleviation, to job creation, to every other government initiative, strategies are so short-sighted, goals are in months, etc. Pathetic!

  8. Good post. Very thought provoking. I hope Dame G reads this and gets some direction as to where and how far she can take this all important issue. So many lives are lost when a Husband dies - and unnecessarily so.

    Is there really a course on Widowhood studies? I thought someone was being funny. Na wa.

  9. Dear NIL, you could never ramble too long for me :). Glory hunters indeed and we are their prized prey. The thing tire for me. But they can like try and whitewash the thing small na. Haba!!
    End justifying the means and all that..

    Madame Sting - I can blame her oo. No thank you still exists in vocabularies. No mind me, na beef.

    Lani - lol. Thanks. Its copyrighted :)

    Therealworld - Thanks dear. Following back

    Culture Soup and Natural Nigerian Welcome here!! There is no widowhood studies oo. I was only being facetious! lol.

    Stelzz welcome here . I hope so too. Like Myne said there is so much to be done, and she cant do it alone but I want her to try at least.
    I came across A call for the Protocol of rights for women in Africa which heads of State will be deliberating on at the AU summit this month. I pray they ratify and put it into action cos it seems there are lots of acts/policies embedded within that will benefit African women. I definitely feel its a move in the right direction. Lets see what happens.

  10. Omo, see passion, I like it o. The professor is just playing eye service, don't mind him. Thatr is why they had to 'form' course for her. Let her do something joo.
    Nice blog and following.
    Please, check my blog out at

  11. lol @ where patience is found, therein lies goodluck'. very original...

    the only thing that I know that she has done for widows is wrongly associate herself wit them by calling them her 'fellow' widows.

  12. Dame seems to be getting more attention than Mister President oh...

    lol @ where patience is found, therein lies goodluck.

    I can see you are pretty vexed about this, Honorary degrees lost its value a long time ago...Universities award them to the highest bidders so I am not surprised at this.

  13. LOL!! This post made me laugh- especially your ways to honor her! Me too i was shocked when i heard this oh! SMH

    Btw, you've been tagged cause you're my sunshine



  14. Wow! Cool stuff! So passionate! So so spirited! I looooooove this and I make bold to say that no one could have done this piece better! Ok lavish praise over, now to the matter at hand: expect worse. In the next four years we will see more emptiness in those who should know, unrivalled erosion of moral authority in those who should provide leadership, and more disgraceful acts by those who should ordinarily be revered. It is tragic but it is true.

  15. Oh. Please....stop. I. Can't.

    this is your funniest post ever. Hey - I agree.... a building - heck even the library would be more appropriate than giving an honorary degree. Now who wants the burden of saying they graduated from uniport? The same school that gave ms. Umbreerrra a degree?????

  16. So sad, the pregnant woman with AIDS...

  17. Ginger haff Keeed me o! There is no denying that though humorous, this post hits on a sensitive issue of how honor has gone to the dogs in this country. Someone that should be sent back to secondary school to learn what to do with present and past tenses is being honored with a Doctorate. I don't have any faith in any of these their so called pet projects because history shows us they are means of siphoning funds cloaked under a garment of legitimacy. I stand to be corrected when she indeed makes a positive impact but till then, she can gerrout with her pet project and undeserved honor

  18. Damn! Ginger I had no idea about the hardships widows suffer in Nigeria. You are so right it needs to be changed. Nigeria is a wonderful country but they need to step into the current century with their attitudes.

  19. Ahh, i get your point much better now. I must have been so outraged the first time round that it affected my comprehension skills.

  20. I am not talking of financial handouts loosely called empowerment given to a select few. Ordinary people can do even that out of their own volition.



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