Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan has dropped his controversial wife, Patience, from his 73-man delegation heading to Washington DC for the “U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit” which begins next Monday.
Mr. Jonathan is billed to arrive in the US capital on Sunday, rolling in with one of the largest delegations at the three-day summit, but it is a trip governed by fear of the unknown, including possible uncomfortable encounters with members of the press, protesters and angry citizens.
Observers say the Nigerian leader’s decision to drop his wife from the trip stems from deep concern that she might be humiliated in Washington DC over her denunciation of the kidnap of hundreds of Nigerian school girls in Chibok, Borno State, in April.
Mrs. Jonathan and Kema Chikwe, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) National Women leader, were among those within top government circles who initially questioned and denounced the abduction story, claiming it was a farce. A television appearance by Mrs. Jonathan went viral, and has become the butt of several spoofs on the Internet. President Jonathan’s acceptance of the farce theory was responsible for the delay in rescue efforts that could have saved several of the girls.
Mrs. Jonathan is also widely remembered for leading a thorough humiliation of officials of the Government Girls Secondary School from where the girls were abducted, including the Principal, Mrs. Asaba Kwabura, who she ordered detained alongside Naomi Nyadar a lead campaigner for the “BringBackOurGirls” movement.
Presidency sources told SaharaReporters it is feared that Mrs. Obama, one of the best-known supporters of “BringBackOurGirls,” might not be favorably disposed to interacting with Mrs. Jonathan.
Meanwhile, it has also been learned that President Jonathan has himself had his request for a one-on-one meeting with President Obama turned down.
In a further reflection of the extent of the fear of the unknown during the trip, Mr. Jonathan has also turned down a request to be at a “solidarity rally” by a group of praise-singers who call themselves “The Diaspora Nigerians in America group,” scheduled for August 5 in front of the Nigerian Embassy.
A press statement issued by the group today confirmed Mr. Jonathan’s decision to bail out of the self-serving love-fest.
Governors Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom, Gabriel Suswam of Benue, Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa, and Isah Yuguda of Bauchi will accompany President Jonathan to the United States. Also on the entourage will be the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Finance, Youth Culture and Tourism, Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison Madueke.
Businessmen listed on the entourage include Femi Otedola, Wale Tinubu and Kola Adeshina of Sahara Energy. The rest of the list is made up of aides, advisers and staff.
The Summit will end on Wednesday