By Hon. Josef Omorotionmwan
We are today going ancient and modern. We are taking a short excursion into an aspect of the ancient history of the Benin Kingdom as well as an aspect of a contemporary history of Nigeria. We shall then lead evidence to show that the time has come to seriously consider the background of the spouses of those who want to lead the nation. Undoubtedly, the role of say the President’s wife is of crucial importance in the scheme of things. As we shall see in the paragraphs that follow, a good wife would make a good President better while a bad wife as a blot on the administration could pull down the President and his administration.
The best time to begin a critical examination of the background of the candidate’s spouse is during the campaigns for the office, not after the elections have been won and lost. In essence, the background check of the candidate’s spouse should come under serious scrutiny. Her background should really form an integral part of the campaign process and the eligibility question. It becomes imperative that the electorate should be properly informed. The role of a wife in the husband’s aspiration is gradually becoming as important as that of the candidate’s running mate.
The Benin people of South-South Nigeria are perhaps the undisputed champions of the world when it comes to respecting and revering their Monarch, the Oba of Benin. To them, the Oba does no wrong. The Oba is God’s representative on earth.
Again, goodness begets goodness. The deep respect that the Benins have for their Oba could also be a function of the Oba’s goodness. Evidently, God loves the Benins, hence He has always sent them good Monarchs. It is also true that if the Benins have a bad Oba, these same loyal and respectful subjects would show him the Red Card.
Enter Oba Ewuakpe. He was the Oba of Benin during the period 1700 – 1712AD. He was a living tyrant and his reign was horrible. He was so high-handed that the chiefs and other subjects rebelled against him. They abandoned the palace for him and his family. This was for the Oba and his family a solitary confinement of sorts.
He had a good wife, Queen Iden, who later became known as Iden’ Okp’ Okhuo (Iden the great woman) because of the noble role she played. To her, her husband’s behavior was simply nauseating and all her efforts to change things from within failed. At the peak of it all, she offered her life, a living sacrifice in atonement for her husband’s iniquities. Accordingly, she was killed. She died that the Monarchy might survive.
After her death, normalcy returned to the palace. The chiefs and other subjects also returned to the palace. That was how she saved the Benin Monarchy.
In contemporary Nigeria President Muhammadu Buhari’s wife, Aisha, had no iota of doubt that she had a good husband. She also knew that her husband was a team player. She knew that many good Nigerians worked hard to see her husband through the 2015 elections.
To her utter consternation, however, no sooner had the elections been won than some two or three elements hijacked her husband and ran away with the victory.
We are left in no doubt that, like Queen Iden of old, she tried to change things from within, without much success. She cried out! She went public. Her greatest lamentation was with the men – the men who worked assiduously for her husband’s success. Her bold question was, “Where are the men?” Nigeria was falling apart and we were watching. Instead of sticking together to fight the hijackers, the men were sneaking into Aso Rock under the candle light to ask for crumps. Where men run away, there are women who are prepared to stay and fight. Aisha Buhari is one such women. Madam, you deserve a medal. We salute you. We salute your courage. There is no telling how much this great woman must have been doing to keep our government afloat.
Apparently, the dog of the President is also the President of dogs. The role of the good wife of a Chief Executive has since transcended the level of the early German woman, ‘Kuche, Kirche und Kinder” – Kitchen, Church and Children. The woman’s role was to cook for the family; go to church and pray for them; and come home to look after the children. Society can only ignore the new change at its own peril!
Let the electorate be informed!