By Tayo Ogunbiyi
According to Swiss psychiatrist and psychotherapist, Carl Gustav Jung [1875-1961], personality is the supreme realisation of the innate idiosyncrasy of a living being. It is an act of courage flung in the face of life, the absolute affirmation of all that constitutes the individual, the most successful adaptation to the universal conditions of existence, coupled with the greatest possible freedom of self-determination. Personality refers to individual differences in characteristic patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving. The study of personality focuses on two broad areas: One is understanding individual differences in particular personality characteristics, such as sociability or irritability. The other is understanding how the various parts of a person come together as a whole.
The strength and depth of character of individuals naturally determine the course of events in a country, organisation and, of course, the world at large. In his book, ‘What is History?’ the historian, E.H. Carr, attempts to put in perspective the role of people and personalities in defining and shaping events in a society. While he agrees that the society offers the platform for individuals to achieve set goals, he, nevertheless, accepts that there are personalities whose vision and strength of character have significantly shaped, defined and influenced their respective societies. These include Adolf Hitler of Germany, Mikel Gobachev of the former USSR and Nelson Mandela of South Africa, to mention but a few personalities whose passion, vision and mindsets radically impacted the world.
One of the personalities that really defined the Dr. Goodluck Jonathan presidency was the immediate past First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan. For the avoidance of doubt, there had been First Ladies in the country before Dame Patience. It is, however, doubtful if any of them had so much captured national attention as she did. A strong and, sometimes, controversial personality, Dame Patience, no doubt, re-defined the office of First Lady, in her own unique way, while her husband held sway at the Presidency. She made so much impression that it might take some time for any future First Lady to beat some of the records she set.
Popularly referred to as ‘Mama Peace’ by her teeming admirers, Dame Patience was an action First Lady who brought lots of razzmatazz to the office of First Lady. While the Jonathan-led government was still dilly- dallying on what to do with the news of the abduction of the Chibok girls, Dame Patience would have none of that. With her well-oiled investigative skills, she was determined to help the federal government unearth the mystery surrounding the seizure of the girls. And, like the true Amazon that she is, Dame Patience hurriedly swung into action. If relevant security agencies were not going to demonstrate sufficient political will to get to the bottom of the matter, the Dame was going to show them direction.
Thus, began an investigative process at the court of Her Excellency. At the end of it all, there were lots of revelations that would have actually helped relevant security concerns if only they had been painstaking enough to follow the lead of the Dame. Courtesy the Dame, we were, for instance, able to know that the Principal of the abducted Chibok girls’ school attended the investigative show alone. She didn’t come with other key stakeholders who would have made the job of getting information about the missing girls a lot easier. Whatever must have been responsible for this, the truth of the matter is that ‘na only her (i.e. the Principal) waka come’.
Though the Dame resided in Abuja, but whenever she decided to visit Lagos, Lagosians surely felt the impact of Her Excellency’s visit. With the hordes of security details attached to ensure her safety and security, even the deaf and the blind were often aware that a ‘powerful’ woman was in town. On a particular visit to Lagos Island, when the First Lady wanted to say ‘thank you’ to South-South women for supporting her husband, Lagos Island and environs experienced a traffic gridlock that brought a halt to all forms of business and commercial activities for over five hours. Though it was a bitter experience, but Lagosians did not actually complain because they counted it a huge privilege to suffer such temporary hardship in honour of the highly esteemed former First Lady. After all, it is not every time that one gets the rare chance of having a First Lady visit.
One other major highlight of the Dame’s tenure as First Lady was her amazing oratory proficiency. The Dame was a great orator. Her public speaking skill would certainly have made late Martin Luther King and the Cicero of Esa -Oke, Chief Bola Ige, green with envy. Whenever the Dame held the microphone, her audience was always held spellbound. She was that good. To her credit, many of her captivating public speaking exploits are available on different platforms in the social media. Consequently, many who are trying to master the art of public speaking are, of course, availing themselves the once in a life time opportunity of learning from this distinguished master of public speaking through the internet.
The soap box is another area where the former First Lady exhibited great dexterity. She was a delight to behold on the soap box. Not even the menfolk could match her agility on the soap box, where she took on perceived political rivals with the nimbleness of a hungry lion in search of its prey. While on the political campaign rostrum, depending on her mood, she could call upon ‘Amadiora’, the acclaimed god of thunder or Holy Ghost fire to descend on identified opponents of her political leaning. Of course, all is fair in war. At times, when she chose to take things easy during political campaigns, she would tell whoever cared to listen that “my husband must complete his second term because this is our turn”. Of course, you cannot beat such rare logical line of reasoning.
As it has been previously affirmed, the former First Lady had a larger than life image while her reign lasted. As demands for her services grew, she had to take time off her extremely busy schedule to perform the arduous task of a Permanent Secretary in Bayelsa State. Still wondering how she was able to cope with such obviously very demanding schedule? Well, that was what made the Dame tick! She was such a very energetic personality.
Ogunbiyi is of the Features Unit, Ministry of Information & Strategy, Alausa, Lagos
Culled from The Sun