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News and Society Expression Unfold

FIRST LADY REMI TINUBU Epitome of Grace Under Pressure By Keem Abdul 

Read Time:5 Minute, 48 Second



Those who cannot persuade others by the force of their arguments, it is said, usually try to intimidate them with force … or the threat thereof. But if they thought that by so doing, they could cow someone like Senator (Mrs.) Oluremi Tinubu, they were sadly mistaken. 

Earlier in 2024, the nation was rudely awakened to a rather disturbing declaration by one Sunusi Abubakar, an Islamic cleric based in Nigeria’s north-eastern state of Bauchi, who reportedly called for the murder of Sen. Tinubu, Nigeria’s First Lady and wife of the President, on the grounds that she was undermining (or trying to undermine) the Muslim-Muslim ticket that ushered her husband, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and his Vice-President, Sen. Kashim Shettima into office in 2023. By her Christian faith and the critical influence she commands in her husband’s government, the cleric said, Mrs. Tinubu constituted a cog in the realization of the objectives of said ticket and the colouration of the government based on it. He was also quoted as describing the Muslim-Muslim ticket as ‘a scam’ – apparently because of the First Lady’s presence in that equation. 

The First Lady’s first instinct, like that of all reasonable people with better things to do with their time, was to ignore the threat. But amidst nationwide expressions of concern for her safety, she responded that at over 60 years of age, she was not afraid to die. On the contrary, she added, she felt immensely grateful for the blessings God had bestowed upon her life so far. Mortality was not a prospect she anticipated with dismay, but rather with a serene conviction that hers has been a life well-lived. 

And then, to demonstrate that it would take more than a threat to her life from a religious bigot to deter her from playing the part that destiny – as well as her current status as the President’s spouse – have placed on her shoulders, she undertook a visit to the same Bauchi State where the threat had emanated from. Not surprisingly, given their reputation for hospitality, the people of the state and prominent members of society in the state turned out in their numbers to welcome her to the state. They included members of the executive, legislative and judicial arms of government as well as traditional rulers and opinion leaders from across the state. Mrs. Tinubu’s visit was in response to an invitation by the state Governor, Sen. Bala Mohammed,  partly to demonstrate the love and solidarity of the people of the state for the First Lady, and also to have her commission a number of projects executed by the state government. Before her arrival in the state, the Governor, along with other prominent citizens, had also extended an apology to the First Lady and President Tinubu on behalf of the good people of Bauchi State – even as the Bauchi State Police Command disclosed that it had declared the cleric (who is now at large) a wanted man. 

To many observers, and especially to those who know her well, the First Lady’s action in going to Bauchi at this time was a demonstration of an essential component in her character, namely, a quiet courage that is borne, not out of physical strength (for, as the Bible says, by strength shall no man prevail) or even mental fortitude, but of a simple faith in the Providence of God, and a long-standing to realization that her life – and what becomes of it – is ultimately in the hands of an all-powerful and merciful God. To them, it was reminiscent of a similar action, performed long ago, by the Biblical Queen Esther, who dared to appear uninvited before King Ahasuerus, her husband, in order to present an urgent and existential petition on behalf of her Jewish people – in defiance of an immutable royal decree that stipulated the death penalty for anyone who appeared before the royal presence without prior permission. Esther’s calm resolve to face the consequences of her action is summed up in 5 simple words which have echoed throughout history: “IF I PERISH, I PERISH.” 

The cleric’s call for her murder, and Sen. Tinubu’s stoic response to it, may be an extreme case, but her  courage and indifference, not necessarily to the threat of physical harm, but also to the risk of ridicule and unwarranted exposure, has shown itself in many other instances in the course of her public life, whether as a political spouse or as an elected political office holder in her own right. For example, over the years she has shown that she is not afraid to say what is on her mind. And she has repeatedly done this, not just in pursuit of her own interests or in furtherance of her political goals, but also out of concern for the plight of her constituents. 

And as her constituency (or rather, her circle of influence) continues to evolve and widen with each new role she assumes (whether as First Lady of Lagos State, or as the Distinguished Senator representing Lagos West, or now as the the country’s First Lady), she understands  that, to be able to make a positive difference in the lives of your constituents, you need a healthy dose of both courage and virtue. It’s about letting God use you and your refined mindset, to serve the less-fortunate in society, and to help your community to prosper. 

Blessed with a common touch (the ability to relate easily with people whatever their station in life), Sen. Tinubu was on hand, for example, to celebrate the last Christmas holidays with members of her staff in Lagos (most of whom she hadn’t seen since she became the First Lady and moved to Abuja), to catch up on old times, to ask after their welfare and that of their families, to assure each one of them of her continued love and concern in spite of her physical absence and hectic schedule, and to distribute gifts to them – including handsome amounts of cash. 

Anybody who has had the privilege of watching Mrs. Tinubu’s common touch in action cannot fail to observe that she seems to possess a bottomless well of patience – no matter how big the multitude of people waiting to be attended to. And not only does she have the time for each person waiting for her, she does not mind doing the waiting herself sometimes, if she has to. 

As her teeming admirers would say, the ‘Renewed Hope’ mantra of her husband’s 2023 presidential campaign and government may seem like a mere political slogan (and its promises a mirage in the scorching desert of our present hardships as a nation). 

But one of the things that gives the Renewed Hope concrete form and makes it real in the perception of Nigerians is Sen. Mrs. Oluremi Tinubu’s Esther-like courage, virtue, generosity of spirit, and genuine concern for the needs and concerns of her ever-evolving constituency, 


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