Thursday, April 19, 2012

HOW TO SUCCEED AS FIRST LADY IN NIGERIA



People underestimate the power in the cliché, “beside every successful man, there is a woman”. You know how this works. You also know the useful variations of that cliché, like “beside every successful man is a sensible woman”. Sensible because there are women behind and in front who are never seen. We all know how men are. They can’t make up their minds as to what they want, whether it is the wife, the wife’s friend, the girlfriends, or the housemaid. It is your job to make sure he keeps you in your proper place: by his side, as First Lady.

Never confront him about the other women (or boys) you and half the world know he has. In fact, officially, your husband is a kind, god-fearing man incapable of carnal knowledge against the order of marriage (or of nature). Say this to yourself as often as you can. 

Show an early interest in politics. This is what will separate you from the other women – the ability to support his career. You do not need plenty degrees for this. You do not even need to know how to speak English well. Wisdom will save you.  Go into the field, attend party rallies and do not show signs of sleepiness or irritation. Especially during election campaigns, primaries and elections proper, you will be expected to show stamina, stay up all night campaigning, counting votes, manufacturing votes, or waiting for results that will confirm that God has blessed your husband's hustle. 

After crossing those hurdles and winning the elections you need to think of your public image. 

The pet project is the burden of the First Lady but you can do it gracefully. It is a blessing in disguise. People underestimate it, ignore it, misunderstand it, even mock it. They do not know the potential. Nobody will ask questions or check your budgets. Nobody will know how much you raise or spend. It is just like your husband’s security vote. 

Once in a while, take your press team and do something for the less privileged, orphans, widows, that kind of thing. Show you are not afraid of poor or disabled children. Let the cameras capture you smiling while you touch a cripple, hug a poor person, pick up an orphan or push someone’s wheelchair. This will prove that you really love and care for them. Have them show you dancing with them on Children’s day or Christmas or New Year's day. But don’t sweat it. You also need time for other aspects of national politics. The days when first ladies were all about pet projects are over.
Remember that no matter who the Party appoints as women leader, you ARE the de facto women leader, the mummy of the federation. Act like it. Host parties and gala nights for wives of governors, ministers and Party men. Sit at the head of the table.

Be innovative. Take the initiative to touch base with your husband’s supporters. Go and thank them for voting him in. It doesn’t matter if you cause massive hold-ups while you are at it. That way they know you are in town.

Consolidate your position by supporting one or two people to get appointments in your husband's government. You need an eye there. Flex your muscles once in a while by making someone who has annoyed you in the presidency lose his job. People need to know you are not just a pet project first lady.

However, be careful when you are collecting kickbacks from contractors and those who badly need to see the President for favours. You don’t want your husband to leave his serious job of being President to clean up your scandals. Use reliable people to do your money laundering, not people who will blurt out your name the moment they are caught with huge sums of foreign currency.

Because you are getting older, you need to take care of yourself. Not because you want your husband to suddenly abandon his girlfriends and start desiring you. That ship has sailed. You can pay people to desire you when you want. It is for the cameras. You need to be the best dressed woman in the room. You do not want some other powerful woman outshining you. You are the mother of the people. Do complete makeovers if you have to (I hear Dubai is great for makeovers). But be careful. With the exception of harmless Botox injections, avoid needles. Avoid knives and tubes and suction pipes. You don’t want to leave your exalted position for some small girl to inherit.

There are people in the media, half-baked journalists and idle bloggers, who will look at everything you do, your head tie, your children, your grammar, your toenails, the texture of your voice. Unfortunately, this is a democracy and you must endure them. But rest assured that God will judge evil journalists, bloggers and jobless Twitter and Facebook people.

To boost your international image, you need to be seen in glossy magazines with wives of leaders of good countries. Aim high; the American First Lady. My prayer for you is that the Americans don’t elect a woman or gay man as president when it is time for your photo.

Finally, don’t get carried away. Those men who kneel at your feet today do it only because your husband is alive and in power. If that changes, they will disappear faster than the money in our treasury. People will no longer print wrappers with your photo or use your name to sing local songs. Nobody will even call you to events as ex-First Lady. That future might appear grim, but that is why you must face the serious business of enjoying the present. God bless you as you do.

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