Musdapha Ilo, Maiduguri
Wife of the Borno State governor, Nana Shettima, has said that she stayed away from the stakeholders meeting called by the First Lady, Patience Jonathan to deliberate on the way forward in securing the release of the over 200 school girls abducted in Chibok because there was a plot to embarrass her.
Shettima said she deliberately avoided the all-night meeting held on Sunday when it became clear to her, judging by the body language of Jonathan, that the meeting was organized to publicly humiliate her.
Speaking through her press secretary, Aisha Muhammad Hassan, the governor’s wife said she was shocked to watch the First Lady on national television accuse her husband of being responsible for the abduction, after she had behind the cameras hailed his efforts at securing the girls’ release.
The Borno State governor’s wife said prior to Sunday’s meeting, she had held a meeting with the Nigerian First Lady on April 28, in the presence of the wives of service chiefs and the national women leader of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, Kema Chikwe, where she briefed her on the situation and the efforts made by the state government.
In addition, Shettima held a meeting with a coalition of women groups that included stakeholders of Chibok, officials of the National Council of Women Societies, wives of security chiefs in Borno State, the Christian Association of Nigeria, the Federation of Muslim Women of Nigeria, Association of Christian Widows, Association of Muslim Widows, the National Association of Women Journalists, selected female professionals that included university lecturers, political appointees and the principal of the affected school after which a communique was issued as was reported by the media.
The communique was shown to Joanthan by the governor’s wife and she displayed appreciation at the efforts.
However, Hassan said that it became clear to the Shettima “from the body language of the the President’s wife and some of her close associates that there was high possibility that the First Lady’s demand for the governor’s wife to be at the meeting on Sunday was to humiliate her by accusing her husband to her face in the midst of participants at the meeting and she thought it was better she concentrates on her planned trip to Chibok on Monday morning.”
She added that Shettima holds the First Lady in high esteem and could not have done anything to disrespect her, but that the governor’s wife is at the moment more concerned about the release of the schoolgirls who are daughters of residents of the state as well as providing crucial support to their parents who are suffering the trauma of the incident.
It was gathered that Shettima, rather than attend the meeting which she was certain would turn sour, chose instead to go to Chibok where she met with parents and relatives of the abducted schoolgirls to offer support to them.
“The Governor’s wife regards the First Lady as a mother given her age and position as mother of the nation. Rather than present herself for a clash in an event her husband, the Governor was disparaged before her at the Sunday meeting, which could have prompted an emotional reaction, it was out of respect for the First Lady that the Governor’s wife requested the assistance of the State’s Commissioner for Women Affairs (Inna Galadima) as a representative to the meeting even when she had the option of ignoring the invitation and not sending any representative,” Hassan explained further.
Jonathan had shown great resentment on Sunday over the absence of Shettima during the meeting and cancelled a protest she once volunteered to lead to Chibok to demand the release of the girls.
“The mother of Borno is not concerned about what is happening, her children are involved. Why should I cry more than the bereaved? The world will ask me a question if I do…You are playing games. Don’t use schoolchildren and women for demonstration again. Keep it to Borno, let it end there. Until you people are ready to cooperate,” she said.