From JULIANA TAIWO-OBALONYE, Abuja
President Goodluck Jonathan said yesterday that his wife’s recovery will end the mystery of death of a spouse or a leader in Aso Rock. This is even as the First Lady, Patience Jonathan, yesterday confirmed that she actually died for seven days while in a German hospital, treating an undisclosed illness that kept her out of the country for seven weeks.
The President said while thanking Nigerians and dignitaries, who turned out at the special thanksgiving service held at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja that Patience’s recovery has put fake prophets to shame and those who believe in the myth that either a spouse or the President must die in Aso Rock.
Jonathan recalled series of death in his family and his village and how it really put fear in their hearts and how many even thought he was next in line. He said though he was not one to celebrate, his wife’s recovery was worth celebrating and thanking God for. According to him, “today is to appreciate what God has done. “I express my personal appreciation to you all for finding time to be here today. It is a special day for me. “As deputy governor, I lost my closest cousin, many even thought we were brothers, one of his daughters has become my adopted daughter today.
At his funeral, the then Chief Justice then narrated how young men from my village will die once they attain prominent stage in life. Many people present at that event turned to my direction as if to say you are next to die, but spontaneously, I said I will not die. The story was that one of us (the President or his wife) will die. Today, we are celebrating her.
“Her recovery has put an end to that belief. I am not too good in celebrating, but for this particular one, I think we have to thank God for keeping the life of my wife. If anything had happened, there would have been different stories. Fake prophets would have given their stories. As mortals, we must fall sick and die but how and when is what matters most.
“The best time to die is not when you are serving your people, you should finish serving,” he said. Mrs. Jonathan, who spoke at the service where the First Family worships, said she underwent nine surgeries and at some point, her doctors lost hope after she “passed out for more than a week.” “It was not an easy experience for me,” Mrs. Jonathan told the congregation which included senior government officials. “I actually died. I passed out for more than a week. My intestine and tummy were opened. I am not Lazarus but my experience was similar to his. My doctors said all hope was lost. It was God himself in His infinite mercy that said I will return to Nigeria. God woke me up after seven days,” she narrated.
Former Heads of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon and Ernest Shonekan, National Assembly members, ministers and top government functionaries attended the event. During a stirring session, the First Lady narrated how she went through “hell” while in hospital and said she has dedicated her life to serving the needy. “It is the Lord’s doing that I returned alive,” she said. “When God says yes, nobody can say no. People are always afraid of operation (surgery). But in my own case, while my travail lasted, I was begging for it after the third operation because I was going to the theatre everyday. It was God who saw me through.
I did eight or nine operations within one month.” She revealed that while she lay dying in Germany, those close to her who thought she had died, appropriated her properties, selling those they could,” Mrs. Jonathan said. She accused some of those she trusted of leaking information to the public that she had passed on. “I know that some people somehow leaked the information that I was dead. They are people that I trust and rely on. To them, I was dead and I would never return to the country alive,” she said. “Some of them even sold my things off. I won’t say everything here.” She said she believed she had not completed her assignment on earth, which was why God spared her. “It was not an easy one.
The day I came back, I said God I have nothing to say, I offer myself to you. I will be doing things that will touch the lives of the less-privileged. God gave me a second chance because I reached there. He knew I had not completed the assignments He gave me that was why I was sent back,” the First Lady said. Later, at a praise and thanksgiving service banquet, the First Lady, who started by singing the choruses: “My helper” and “He is able to deliver,” said her case can correctly be “described in the words of King David, in Psalm 23:4, which says “…though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me, thy rod and they staff they comfort me”.
Mrs. Jonathan said God proved His words in Lamentations 3:37, that who is he that says, and it comes to pass, when the Lord commands it not?” Special prayers were offered by the President of Christians Association of Nigeria (CAN), Pastor Ayo Oritshejafor. A special presentation from the ministers was given to the President and his wife. Music was supplied by Agatha Moses, Asu Akiye, Rev Umah Ukpai, Yinka Ayefele, Chioma Jesus, Buchi, Jeremiah Gyang and some gospel groups from Katsina and Plateau states.