by Stanley Azuakola
When the senate first saw that particular item of expenditure in the budget of the Federal Capital Territory, even they who are not known to be prudent or conservative, expressed shock. One senator reportedly said that “if people hear about this, what would they say?”
Since then, most Nigerians have been saying and shouting hoarse that allocating N4 billion for the sole purpose of building a ‘Mission House’ for the Nigerian First lady, Dame Patience Jonathan was a mission taken too far.
On Thursday, in Lagos, some women took it a step further, and embarked on a protest mission. Rallying under the aegis of Women Arise Today, the women decried how the government could think it proper to allocate such a humongous sum on a ‘Mission House.’ They argued that N4billion was enough to create create numerous jobs for women and youths.
Rather than undertaking such a project, the women said that with just only one-tenth of the proposed N4billion, the abandoned Women Development Center (WDC) could be refurbished and restored to serve the same purpose.
Led by Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin, the women marched to the office of Lagos State’s Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola. Others in the protest train include the widow of late Beko Kuti, Mrs. Abosede Ransome Kuti; the Director of Gender and Development Action, Mrs. Ada Agina Ude; as well as human rights lawyer, Festus Keyamo who joined the protest in solidarity.
Abosede Ransome Kuti, while speaking, showed to Governor Fashola, some boxes of matches, a sachet of ‘pure water’ and a piece of onion which she said she bought from women she encountered on her way at Oshodi. She said those women toiled all day and suffered a great deal to trade those wares at profits they can barely survive on, whereas only one woman plans to use N4billion to build a mission house.
Okei-Odumakin on her part, hit at the very office called the ‘Office of the First Lady.’ She described it as unconstitutional’ while Festus Keyamo stated in his speech that not only was it unconstitutional, but was also “being used offensively on Nigerians.”
Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka sent a letter criticizing the wasteful proposal of N4billion in solidarity with the protesting women, the letter was read and handed to Governor Fashola as part of the letters to be presented to President Goodluck Jonathan, condemning the wasteful project the president’s wife is set to embark on.
The Lagos governor, Babatunde Fashola received the women’s letter, and promised to deliver them to President Jonathan later today.