The First Lady has demonstrated grace, candour, and fitted well into her role, writes Mariam Mohammed

 It is one year since Oluremi Tinubu, Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, found herself at the apogee of power. Though not a stranger to walking the corridors of power, this was the ultimate, the apex of political albeit economic power – The Presidency!

As a former First Lady of Lagos State, there is perhaps nothing novel, one may dare say, but Presidential authority, especially in a clime as Nigeria, is different. It compels not just attention, but exudes a tocsin that can leave you dizzy and drunk on its dregs.

Is it not in this country we have seen mere local government spouses going overboard to demonstrate that they are in power?

Prior to the presidential elections, there were not a few controversial videos of the now First Lady, not a glowing light. One of such videos was of her dissing a woman from a certain part of the country and attaching labels to a whole tribe. The furore at that time was scalding and no less deserving.

Owing to that and a few instances like the Senate brouhaha with a fellow Senator, the ever-pubescent Dino Melaye, there was apprehension in certain quarters of a First Lady who will dominate, torment and perhaps, leave in her wake controversies. If anything, I was amongst the sceptics who feared for an intemperate, overbearing, snobbish and interfering First Lady.

Like an aeroplane, one year on, Nigeria’s First Lady, Oluremi Tinubu, has defied the odds, disappointed the naysayers and charmed her traducers. She has demonstrated grace, panache, candour and fitted into her role as presidential as any First Lady worth that title can be.

In every sense, she reminds one of Eleanor Roosevelt, the war-time First Lady of the United States. She has left not a few Nigerians in awe in being a model spouse in her handling of the domestic and ceremonial roles of the Presidency while also influencing policy and politics — all while not overstepping the social and political boundaries.

For those who may not know, Eleanor was a remarkable woman with an enduring legacy whose contribution to the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights remains indelible.

Today, our own First Lady is helping to create real and meaningful implications for girls, women, and the underprivileged in our country.

She has become a voice that resonates significantly in creating a country of equal opportunities through her timely and measured interventions.

Through her Renewed Hope Initiative (RHI), the First Lady is impacting lives and serving marginalised demographics. At present, girls in Bauchi State are having the benefit of ICT education through the Alternative High School for Girls. This is just one of several examples of the First Lady’s social interventions which emphasize equal educational opportunities for all girls, regardless of past challenges. “The school aims to empower girls who may have faced obstacles like early marriage or lack of support,” she said at the inauguration early in the year.

To spur the creativity of the Nigerian youth, her Initiative came up with the #OneNigeria Unity Fabric competition! According to her, it is to showcase the enormous but sometimes misplaced industry and ingenuity of our youths and for those participating to design a fabric that represents our unity, resilience, love, and commitment.

It is not just about participating, but a life changing N25 million is up for grabs! Talk about motivation. Day by day, those who wait to see her falter are left puzzled and are left to ask “is it not the same Remi Tinubu who was quarrelsome and takes no prisoners?” Yes, it is the same Oluremi Tinubu but with a different hue and temperament. The one who would ordinarily have made life difficult for the vexatious Dino Melaye for his foul indiscretion in the Senate, but has not abused the privilege of being the First Lady.

Yes, our evolving and dynamic First Lady has shown to be a fresh breath of diplomacy and inclusion.

Not minding that Ademola Adeleke, Governor of Osun State, is of a different party and was responsible for ending the governorship ambition of her husband’s kin, Gboyega Oyetola, she had kind words for the administration when she went to inaugurate the Alternative High School for Girls.

As a mother of the nation whose heart constantly beats for its renewal, every opportunity counts to advance its interest. While hosting the Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations, Amina J. Mohammed, she enthused, “The President has made the right decisions which will help us build a Nigeria that’s more respected, we should all be more accountable as a people as regard our resources and we all need to inspire the youths to think Nigeria first before any state or Nation.”

As a moderating and peace advocate, not even an extremist apologist could draw her ire. Idris Tenshi, an Islamic cleric, had issued a fatwa against the wife of the president. Rather than draw on State might, the First Lady went to the lair of the now remorseful cleric to dismiss the fear of death.

In recent history, a First Lady used State apparatus to intimidate and arrest those that as much as made a Facebook post about the then prevailing hunger in the country. It is in this country that a certain wife of the president lived the illusion that the title of First Lady was her exclusive preserve and summoned wives of state governors to Abuja to decree them against using such honorific.

It is gratifying to note that there has not been any of such untoward use of presidential privilege. Rather, wives of governors are falling over themselves to have the wife of the president in their states for one project inauguration or initiatives. Enamoured!

Dear First Lady, you have done well and ticking the right boxes, but there are a lot more things to accomplish. As the closest person to Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, President of our rich but poor country, you are his greatest adviser. No appointee comes close.

On this basis, you have a duty of care to Nigerians to speak unvarnished truth to the president. His long-pursued dream of becoming president should not become a historical albatross. Let his Presidency stand as monument of positive remembrance by impacting meaningfully on Nigerians.

As you keep pushing the frontiers of service in your esteemed role as First Lady, may the grace and comeliness you have exuded not lose its sheen and shine. May you continue to win over detractors by your humility and may the winds ever be in favour of your tide.

 Mohammed is a PR specialist and publisher of Maktoub Magazine. She writes from Abuja.


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