JULY12,2012By Toluwani Eniola
The appointment of Nigeria’s First Lady Dame Patience Jonathan as a permanent secretary in Oil-rich Bayelsa State, yesterday, generated concern among Nigerians , who condemned the gesture.
Is the Governor of oil-rich Bayelsa State trying to curry presidential favour by appointing Nigeria’s First Lady as permanent secretary in the state? Many wonder how she would be able to combine her position as permanent secretary and as Nigeria’s first lady.
According to The Nation, following the announcement on the state radio, it became the talk of town in Yenagoa, the state capital.Comments continue to inundate social networking media ,especially on facebook where it has gone viral.
The Permanent Secretary is the most senior civil servant of a Ministry, managing the activities of departments, offices and institutional units and reports directly to the commissioner of such ministry.
This is the first time the wife of a President has been so appointed into a position reserved mainly for senior civil servants.
According to a report in The Nation, Government sources said her appointment was informed by her long service transferred from the Rivers State Civil Service to the Bayelsa Civil Service.
Justifying the appointment of Mrs Jonathan, the statement said: “By the Constitutional power conferred on the state Governor, Hon. Seriake Dickson, in section 203 sub section 2c, Dame Patience Jonathan and Seventeen others were elevated to the position of Permanent Secretary in the State Civil Service”.
Born in Port Harcourt, she earned her school certificate in 1976, and passed the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) in 1980. In 1989, she obtained the National Certificate of Education (NCE) in Mathematics and Biology from the Rivers State College of Arts and Science, Port Harcourt. She then proceeded to the University of Port Harcourt and studied Biology and Psychology.
Mrs Jonathan started her career as a teacher at the Stella Maris College, Port Harcourt and Sports Institute Isake. She then moved to the banking sector in 1997, where she established the first community bank in Port Harcourt called the Akpo Community Bank. She served as Marketing Manager of Imiete Community Bank.
She returned to the classroom briefly again as teacher. Eventually she was transferred to the Bayelsa State Ministry of Education, where she served until 29 May 1999 when her husband became the Deputy Governor of the state. She and her husband have two children.
In 2006, JMrs onathan came under investigation for money laundering. Anti-corruption officials alleged that she tried to launder some $13.5m (£8.5m).Mrs Jonathan, then the First Lady of Bayelsa, was picked up at Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos.
Mr. Mackson Iworiso, Senior Special Assistant to Governor Dickson on Media and Public Affairs, described the appointment as routine action in the Civil Service.