By Tunde Sanni
A mild drama ensued Tuesday, during the visit of the First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan, to Oyo State when Governor Abiola Ajimobi’s political aides and journalists had raw deals in the hands of soldiers and operatives of the State Security Service (SSS).
Jonathan’s wife was in the state for a one-day “Thank You Visit and Peace Advocacy Campaign.”
However, some top government functionaries who went through rough moments in the hands of the soldiers, led by Second Lieutenant, L. Muhammad and First Lieutenant K.A. Osindele, included the Chief Judge of the state, Justice Bolajoko Adeniji; Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Mrs. Monsurat Sunmonu. Others were the Commissioner for Urban and Physical Planning, Mrs. Atinuke Osikoya; and her Education counterpart, Mrs. Adetokinbo Fayokun; who were allegedly shoved and pushed, even when they were identified by their aides.
Similarly, the Special Adviser on Media to the governor, Dr. Festus Adedayo, who arrived at the same time with the state media crew, also had altercations with the soldiers who prevented journalists and top government functionaries from gaining entrance into the stadium. The soldiers allegedly threatened to beat him up for daring to request for passage for journalists.
For about 30 minutes of altercations, journalists who were ordered entrance insisted on similar passage for their colleagues who were still stranded outside but the SSS operatives, who took over the security refused and instead, threatened to ‘throw’ out journalists for request of passage for their colleagues.
In the process, one of them, Bisi Oladele, from The Nation newspapers was dragged by his trousers and bundled outside.
In solidarity, other journalists who witnessed the ordeal of Oladele, excused themselves from the event and monitored the proceedings from the live coverage of the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA).
Speaking at the event, Mrs Jonathan thanked residents for voting for her husband during the April 2011 presidential election.
“I did promise that the administration of President Jonathan will allocate more political space to the women. This, he has faithfully done. Today, I’m glad to announce that in the history of Nigeria, it is the first time that a total of 13 women are seven in the cabinet as ministers and special assistants. This number accounts for 32 per cent,” she said.
“I hope that Governor Abiola Ajimobi, will also not be discouraged. Like Oliver Twist, we wish to appeal to him to give women more positions. This will enable women to have stronger voice,” she said.
The First Lady, who explained that the Women for Change and Development Initiative was not a political party but a non-governmental organisation (NGO), said the focus of the NGO was for peace.
Responding, Ajimobi described the programme as another Women’s Day given the number of women in attendance as well as the nobility of the project.
He lauded President Jonathan for avoiding party sentiment, when considering the welfare of the 36 states.
“By this visit, you have made a huge deposit into the emotional account of the people of Oyo State. The government of President Goodluck Jonathan is political party neutral when considering the welfare of the 36 states. Our resolve to partner with the Federal Government still stands,” he said.
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