Many had assumed former Nigeria First Lady Dame Patience Faka Jonathan is unlettered, given how she communicated in English as wife to the country’s leader Goodluck Jonathan.
But a scrutiny of the dramatic lady revealed a former teacher and banker as well as a Bayelsa State secretary.
An accomplished lady in her own right, Patience Jonathan was born in Port Harcourt on October 25, 1957 earning her school certificate in 1976, passing the West African School Certificate Examination (WASCE) in 1980 and obtaining the National Certificate of Education (NCE) in Mathematics and Biology from the Rivers State College of Arts and Science, Port Harcourt in 1989.
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With an eye still on education, Ms. Jonathan enrolled in the University of Port Harcourt and studied for a B.Ed in Biology and Psychology. She also holds an honorary doctorate from the same university.
It was at the Rivers State College of Arts and Science that she met Goodluck. Goodluck was one of her lecturers in the Department of Biological Sciences while Patience was part of the students reading for the Nigerian Certificate of Education (NCE) and the B.Ed. degree.
Their love blossomed resulting in their 1993 marriage. They have two biological children; Arewera Adolphus Jonathan and Aruabi Jonathan.
Setting out as a teacher at the Stella Maris College, Port Harcourt and at the Sports Institute, Isaka, Patience veered into banking in 1997 serving as a marketing manager of Imiete Community Bank and then setting up Akpo Community Bank, Port Harcourt’s first community bank.
Her appointment as permanent secretary in Bayelsa state by Henry Seriake Dickson generated some controversy given she had been away from the civil service for over a decade. She served as the First Lady of Bayelsa State when her husband was governor between 2005 and 2007.
Having become first lady from May 5, 2010 to May 29, 2015, Mama P, as she was affectionately called, drew keen attention to her following the capture of the Chibok girls. The 276 Chibok schoolgirls were kidnapped in April 2014, from the Government Secondary School in the town of Chibok in Borno State, Nigeria. The suspects were the Boko Haram Group.
On hearing of the abduction, a dramatic Mrs. Jonathan in tears rendered in a video while meeting the troubled parents said, “now the First Lady has called to help you find your missing child, would you keep quiet. Chai chai there’s God o, the blood we are sharing (shedding), there’s God o, there’s God o.”
Although hailed for her interventionist projects to lift the female child, she is more noted for her sound and video clips which are humorous even if she set out with no such intention.
On why her husband Jonathan was seeking a second term running for the 2015 election against Buhari she retorted: “If pikin no pass, e must repeat class. Let us repeat Mr. President.”
When some suggested she had done little to retrieve the Chibok school girls, she asked “Na me be the police or army.”
On why her presence in Lagos generated so much traffic, a miffed Mrs. Jonathan submitted “If even common governor wife goes shopping and there is traffic, how much more me the First Lady of the federal republic, traffic will continue into 2015.”
When a media man asked her “why is your husband running for the presidency,” she calmly answered “who dey pursue am.”
It’s unclear if Madam Jonathan sets out to be hilarious or it’s just her nature to be self-assured but whichever it is, her sayings/voice clippings have become a regular staple in the diet of humorous content creators in Ghana, Nigeria and other African states.
As the Nigerian Air Force commissions its first fighter pilot and helicopter pilot respectively, the former first lady is credited for the feat for demanding the enrollment of females.
Another Legacy of Dame Patience Jonathan. She fought for the admission of females into NDA. What has Aisha fought for? https://t.co/IugwCRx3FW— Tena Sammy (@cream_sammy) October 15, 2019
She is also credited for founding many philanthropic and women empowerment programs. One of which is the A-Aruere Reachout Foundation (AARF), which she set up to improve the status and earning capacity of Nigerian women and the youth.
Mrs. Jonathan has also been recognised locally, nationally and internationally for her philanthropic work. She received the “Beyond The Tears” International Humanitarian Award New York, USA, in 2008 for her role in the global fight against HIV/AIDS; the African Goodwill Ambassador Award (Los Angeles, USA, 2008) and was the recipient of the “Wind of Change” Award from the South/South Women’s Organization.