AFRICAN POLITICS AND THE ROLE OF SO-CALLED FIRST LADIES (PART I)

These so-called First Ladies were not given any vote by the electorate, and they shouldn’t be allowed to manipulate the situation to create problems.

Naadu Mills, an educationist, has a sad history to tell the world about her experiences as the First Lady. The events characterizing her relationship with Nana Konadu when she was the Second Lady (her deceased husband Atta Mills being the Vice President at the time) are still fresh in our minds. No elaboration.

In comes Lordina Mahama, our current Ghanaian First Lady. She is all over the place, participating in activities and using her office to draw attention to what she has up her sleeves. To some critics, she is overdoing things, especially when allegations were made recently to suggest that she seeks to have a say in how appointments are made or that she is exerting needless pressure on Ministers for petty favours.

• We know that these First Ladies have their own secretariats and don’t move about alone. Security and protocol services are provided at the expense of the tax payer. Who accounts for all these expenditures? Do we really need this association for anything at all? What is it that its members can do that the substantive heads of state (their husbands) cannot do?

• Why should public funds be used to support the ventures of these so-called First Ladies?

For now, what I have observed is that they are using the auspices of their association to grow wings and be seen as power brokers. Or, at best, people who have strings to pull. Their usual “pillow-talk” may be a trump-card; but such a “pillow-talk” often comes across as suspicious and noticeably discomfiting, especially if their pieces of advice and actions don’t produce the desired results.

Folks, I have spoken my mind and have no regrets for doing so. It is up to us to keep monitoring the situation so that we are not overtaken by events. These so-called First Ladies were not given any vote by the electorate, and they shouldn’t be allowed to manipulate the situation to create problems.

Their husbands know that they are accountable to the citizens but they cannot run away from the influences of their wives. That is why we must be vigilant in ensuring that these First Ladies don’t take undue advantage of their presence in the corridors of power to arrogate to themselves powers that they don’t deserve or are not qualified for. Our democracy doesn’t really recognize these First Ladies. That is why nothing about them is stated in any of the Constitutions guiding the democracies in the various countries.

We should remain docile for them to mistake our docility for a blank cheque to do things anyhow. If we allow them the elbow room to assume powers not due them, they will harm us in many ways; and we may wake up from our slumber only to realize how lousy we have been. The harm may not be easy to repair. African First Ladies, be careful how you do things!!

( culled from a piece from Michael Bokor )

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