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First Ladies Roles in Governance, Giving Stipends?

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First Ladies Roles in Governance

There’s a never-ending question surrounding the role of First Ladies in governance, either to the President or the Governor, that remains unanswered. However, that is not a dying question as to whether the Constitution recognizes the office of the First Lady.

Let’s get the fact out: the Nigerian Constitution doesn’t create room for the office of First Lady, as they are not publicly elected. The office of the First Lady of Nigeria is an informal but accepted title held by the wife of the president of Nigeria. That being said, it is important to not underestimate the importance of women in society, but at whose expense becomes the crucial question. The public, old or young?

During the election campaign, one would recall that Senator Remi Tinubu was reported to utterly express “My husband is not that wealthy, I begged Shettima’s wife for N2m”. A few months into the aftermath of the Midnight announcement of the victory of Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the First Lady donated 950 million naira to support the military. At the same time, thousands were attributed to state elders as beneficiaries.

The question remains: where is the money coming from? Who funds the donation?

Albeit misconceptions, the past administrations, in a way, created an office of the First Lady after the creation of what is now known as the African First Ladies Peace Mission (AFLPM). The AFLPM was established to promote peace and harmony in Africa and came into being in 1995 after the Beijing Conference on Women in Beijing, China.

The initiative was taken by the First Ladies of Nigeria, Gambia, Benin, Uganda, Lesotho, and Burundi to undertake a mission of peace for the rest of Africa. Following a series of activities at regional levels, the Formal Declaration of the African First Ladies Peace Mission was made in Harare, Zimbabwe, during the OAU Summit in 1996. This initiative led to the establishment of the African First Ladies Peace Mission (AFLPM) by the then Nigerian First Lady, Mrs. Maryam Sani Abacha.

At the Congo Summit in 2008, it was agreed that Nigeria should provide a permanent secretariat for the African First Ladies Peace Mission. The mission’s primary purpose is to address the peace situation in the continent, with regard to the role of women, and mobilize both government and non-government resources to help reduce violent conflict and its effects in Africa.

Ever since the conception of AFLPM, the President are as follows;

1st President, Her Excellency Mrs Maryam Sani Abacha, Then First Lady of Nigeria, 1996

2nd President, Her Excellency, Justice (Mrs.) Fati Lami Abubakar, Then First Lady of Nigeria, 1998

3rd President, Her Excellency Madame Edith Lucie Bongo Ondimba, Then First Lady of Gabon, 1999

4th President, Her Excellency, Mrs Constancia Mangue de Obiang, Then First Lady of Equatorial Guinea, 2001

5th President, Her Excellency Mrs Chantal Compaoré, Then First Lady of Burkina Faso, 2003

6th President, Her Excellency Mrs Antoinette Sassou Nguesso, First Lady of the Republic of The Congo, 2005

7th President, Her Excellency Hajiya Turai Umar Musa Yar’ Adua, Then First First Lady of Nigeria, 2008

8th President, Her Excellency Dame Patience Faka Jonathan, Then First Lady of Nigeria, 2012

9th President, Her Excellency Mrs Aisha Muhammadu Buhari, Then First Lady of Nigeria, 2015

10th President, Her Excellency Mrs. Angeline Ndayishimiye, First Lady of Burundi, 2023

Nonetheless, this is considered an initiative to actively participate First Ladies in governance while they exercise a motherly role in situations of women leadership. However, it does not mean the Constitution recognizes the office of the First Lady.

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