I Had 12 Surgeries In One Month –Patience Jonathan
•Recalls Life Threatening Experience Before, After Elections
•Forgive Me, Jonathan Begs Nigerians
•Osinbajo Shuns Aso Rock Chapel Handover
The first family was on Sunday joined by cabinet ministers, friends and senior aides, at the Aso Rock Chapel to thank God for his mercies as outgoing residents of the Presidential Villa.
The first lady, Patience Jonathan, was particularly grateful that she was living the Villa alive with her spouse, President Goodluck Jonathan, despite medical challenges that saw her come under the surgeon’s blade 12 times in just one month.
Speaking at a valedictory/thanksgiving church service at the Villa Chapel, Mrs. Jonathan, while thanked God for elevating her and her husband to levels they never dreamed of, used the opportunity to recount her medical challenges before and after her husband lost the presidential poll. She particularly recalled being rushed to hospital where she underwent surgery and survived miraculously during the electioneering campaigns.
Her words: “I really thank God for keeping me alive. He is a miraculous God. God is so wonderful in my life, because people prophesied that one of us will not go back (leave the villa alive). But God has made it possible… two of us are going back healthy.
“I never thought in my life that I will be First Lady. I never dreamt of being wife of a deputy governor because my husband was not a politician. But God made it possible and God lifted us up from deputy governor and here we are.
“We should be grateful to God for what he has done. To me and my family, we praise God. To our followers, today it might not be too good but I want them to be grateful to God because you have followed us for a long time from deputy governor, governor, vice-president, president.
“You know this position is not for life. There is no permanent thing, so I want you to take it in good faith, that it is the will of God and you should be praising God. God is really wonderful. That is for the political side.
“To my own real life, I thank God for keeping me alive today. God is so wonderful. Just two years ago, I went through operations upon operations. Within one month, I passed through 12 operations. Some people said ‘she is dead’ but God resurrected me.
“God told me ‘my daughter go back I will give you second chance, go and finish your work’. “And today if my husband lost this election I believe God has made me finish the work.
“This year, my husband was campaigning. That campaigning time was a trial for me. Satan came in again and those that know the former president and his wife, her corpse was carried out of this place. We thank God that I and my husband are going alive.
“Thank God today we are parting with life and not with death. Our doors are open. This campaign period, devil struck and came in again. In pains I was rushed to the hospital in January and the doctors told me ‘mama you have to go for major big operation now now.’
“The campaign was still going on and I wondered how we were going to explain to Nigerians. You know even when you go for check-up, they will be writing in papers saying all sorts of things.
“I said I and my family have to handover. My husband will continue with his campaign crowd until the last day. That was how I went in for the first major operation in January ending.
“And by God’s grace I went for the operation and came out and it was from that operation that I went to the campaign ground.
“And they told me mama, there is another bigger operation that you have to go in for. But that this one would not be in this hospital; it is too small for this type of operation. You have to go to a bigger hospital.
“I said I will go; I have faith in God and that my God will see me through. He has brought me out for a purpose. I called my pastor to continue praying for me. They want me to be a sacrifice, but I will never be.
“Then, I went to the bigger hospital. I booked for the operation and I was asked to go for the campaign. They gave me a new date. I had paid for everything remaining just to enter the theatre and the thing occurred to the hospital to check me again.
“By then, my husband had lost the election. I have packed out of Villa, we are about going. Behold! I went to four hospitals again (for screening) and the thing vanished. My doctors were surprised they didn’t think that could happen.”
She therefore urged her aides who feel embittered by the loss at the presidential polls to accept the reality that no political office is occupied forever.
Speaking earlier, President Goodluck Jonathan urged those Nigerians he may have offended during his stay in the Aso Rock Villa to forgive him, just as he has forgiven those who wronged him.
He said no leader was perfect, or could achieve everything, hence the need for mutual forgiveness, stressing the importance of leaving behind positive indelible marks.
According to Jonathan: “We came in as Vice-President and the wife, today we are leaving as the former President and former First Lady. We have achieved it through you.
“No one, head of a government, be it at the national level or the sub-regional levels can do every thing. But you will want to do something to show that yes I was here. Every body has something to leave behind.
“No system is perfect. Every human system must have an element of imperfection. For the period of eight years that we have been here… my transition from Vice-President to President was gradual and complicated; it was intertwined, so you cannot actually draw the line.
“For the eight years that one has been there, definitely one is not perfect. We have done certain done things that probably we wouldn’t have done that way, but we didn’t do things deliberately.
“So for those who we have offended it was not deliberate, it was circumstances of the office. So we also plead that those people should forgive; we think we have done our best.
“You can do your best and your friends may misunderstand you. Today we are talking about leaving. It is only God that knows why things go the way they do,” he added.
The President also assured that he and his wife would still continue to interact with Nigerians, as they are not leaving the country, stressing that it is not “only in government that you can do things. Even outside government, you do a lot of things. The richest people in the world don’t even serve in government.
“So, outside government a lot of things happen, it is for us to be committed and continue to be focused. Me and my wife really love all of you. My brothers and sisters, I say goodbye.”
The Villa Chapel was filled to the capacity unlike the empty seats that had been the norm since Jonathan lost his re-election bid in the March 28 presidential poll.
Bible lessons were read from the Books of Numbers and 2nd Corinthians; before a special presentation of songs by the Children’s Section of the Chapel.
Officiating clerics were Aso Rock Villa Chaplain, Obioma Onwuzurmba; Rev. William Okoye; Minister of Power, Venerable Chinedu Nebo; and ex-Information Minister, Professor Jerry Gana.
Onwuzurumba titled his sermon: ‘To God be the Glory,’ pointing out that it was the best summary of all that happened over the years in the life of the Chapel, the President and his family, in the interaction among all sections and congregants of the Chapel, and the nation at large.
Special thanksgiving of songs and worship were done for the first family with prayers for their divine safekeeping said by Nebo and Gana. Gifts of momentous photographs were presented to Jonathan, his wife, and his mother, Eunice.
Vice President-elect, Yemi Osinbajo, who was invited for a formal handover of the Chapel to him, however sent a representative, Pastor Emmanuel Ibitaye, a regional pastor of the Redeemed Christian Church of God.
Onwuzurumba explained to journalists after the service that although the Vice-President-elect did not honour the invitation “for one reason or the other” and sent a representative instead, another date would be picked for the formal handover of the chapel to him.
By Chesa Chesa,DAILY INDEPENDENT