Wife of the President, Dame Patience Jonathan (L) taking her oath of office during her swearing-in ceremony as Permanent Secretary in the Bayelsa State Civil Service, while the State Governor, Hon. Seriake Dickson (R) looks on
By Segun James
The First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan has justified her acceptance of the promotion to the office of a Permanent Secretary in the civil service of the Bayelsa State government saying that outside her role as the wife of the President she deserves and reserves the right to pursue her career to its heights.
The First Lady, who was apparently reacting to the criticism that followed her appointment, said that she wasn’t the first person in such position in the world or the country to pursue a career outside her role as a wife of a political office holder.
Mrs. Jonathan, who spoke to newsmen shortly after being sworn-in, disclosed that she was last promoted 13 years ago even though she had been working in the state as a teacher before transferring her service to the ministry of education.
She disclosed that she had been working as a teacher before she met her husband who was her lecturer in school.
She wondered what the uproar about her appointment was all about when her role as the First lady of the federation was not even constitutional and the fact has been drummed to her hearing by several people.
“When it suits them, they will say we don’t have office. Remember when I went to Lagos for peace advocacy, the Governor of Lagos State said that my husband should call me to order since my office is not in the constitution and that I have no office. Why now won’t I pursue my career that I am sure of?
“We the wives of political office holders, if our name is not in the constitution and our husbands will retire with full benefits then they should find a role for us when they are amending the constitution. They should look into our own affairs,” she said.
Earlier, Governor Seriake Dickson had said that the appointments were based on merit.
According to him, the appointments were given to the most senior civil servants from all the local government councils in the state.
He said that he was more particular about the women since they had suffered more discrimination from past appointments when the positions became vacant.
While administering the oath of office on the new permanent secretaries, the Governor asked them to eschew politics and do their duty to the best of their ability.
He insisted that the First Lady got her promotion on merit even as he justified his decision to appoint her as based on his right as enshrined in the constitution of the Federation.
Mrs. Jonathan, who responded on behalf of the 19 new Permanent Secretaries, thanked the Governor for the appointment.
She expressed the determination and the resolve of herself and her colleagues “to deploy our collective expertise and experience to work harder for the development of our dear state.
“We assure you that we will justify the confidence you have reposed in us by these appointments, and support your mission to deliver the dividends of democracy and good governance to the people of Bayelsa State.”