John Campbell

Africa in Transition

Campbell tracks political and security developments across sub-Saharan Africa.

Print Print Cite Cite
Style: MLA APA Chicago Close


Nigerian President’s Wife Appointed Permanent Secretary of Bayelsa State

by John Campbell
July 24, 2012

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan (R) and his wife Patience attend the inauguration of the new African Union (AU) building in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, January 28, 2012. (Noor Khamis/Courtesy Reuters)


On July 11, Bayelsa State Governor Henry Seriake Dickson appointed President Goodluck Jonathan’s wife Patience as permanent secretary of the state government. The appointment has provoked angry criticism. One commentator compares the governor with Caligula in the arbitrary use of his powers of appointment. Another criticism, noting the first lady’s powerful role in the Jonathan administration, raises questions about chains of authority in the Bayelsa state government; as a practical matter, Mrs. Jonathan is far more powerful than the state commissioner to whom she nominally reports. The writer also raises the question of whether she has been a “ghost worker” (receiving a salary without performing duties.)

In response to the outcry, the media and public affairs special assistant to the governor has issued a defense of the appointment. The statement reviews Mrs. Jonathan’s career in Rivers and Bayelsa states. It also argues that the governor of Bayelsa is “convinced” that the wives of governors, vice presidents and the president whose positions are not funded should be encouraged to pursue their own careers. It goes on to say that Mrs. Jonathan’s “services to the development of Bayelsa State and Nigeria as wife of a deputy governor, governor, vice president and now president qualifies as essential service which should be recognized and rewarded, not derided and denigrated on the altar of politics.”

Though legal, the appointment appears politically unwise. Kidnapping and oil bunkering in the Delta (of which Bayelsa is a part) is on the upswing, according to anecdotal evidence. And Jonathan himself is being threatened with impeachment proceedings in the House of Representatives. Now is not the time for a controversial appointment of the first lady to a state position by a governor who is a political ally of the president.

Post a Comment 5 Comments

  • Posted by Naijaninja

    “…the appointment appears politically unwise” . I have to say, Mr Campbell, that you are a master of the understatement. Our President is a clueless, shameless, bumbling fool who would be hard put to find his backside in the early morning harmattan fog. The sooner he is impeached the better, because he is a bloody disgrace to all 160 million Nigerians.

  • Posted by debo adejobi

    Caeser’s Wife!………………………

  • Posted by zainabusman

    The decision is not only “politically unwise”, it is absolutely distasteful. Despite the differences between Nigerian federalism and that of the US, I just can’t picture Michelle Obama serving in a similar capacity in Illinois….

  • Posted by Zainab

    The decision to make the country’s First Lady a Permanent Secretary of a state is not only “politically unwise” but it is utterly distasteful. I just can’t imagine Michelle Obama serving under the governor of Illinois for instance (even though I understand there’s a world of difference between American and Nigerian federalism).

    I am not even talking about what many believe is the bypassing of due process in appointing the Nigerian First Lady to such a position (that she was/is a ghost worker etc). The whole situations rubs the shine, finesse and class off the office of the President (for condoning this), the Bayelsa state governor (for his apparent political servility) and the First Lady (for being at the center of this all).

    When it happened a few weeks ago, most Nigerians actually thought it was one of those rumours that provide a sort of comic relief.

    Alas it wasn’t and it isn’t!

    Interesting times…

  • Posted by Akindele

    I think the first lady lack contentment.because she cannot finish the project in her office.

Post a Comment

CFR seeks to foster civil and informed discussion of foreign policy issues. Opinions expressed on CFR blogs are solely those of the author or commenter, not of CFR, which takes no institutional positions. All comments must abide by CFR's guidelines and will be moderated prior to posting.

* Required