by Dare Lawal
While she was away last year, the rumour mill was agog. The first lady, Dame Patience Jonathan is very sick and is in a German hospital, said the newspapers and online blogs. No, she’s only in Germany taking a rest, was the standard response from her handlers and those of her husband, President Goodluck Jonathan.
However, during his last media chat in late 2012, President Goodluck Jonathan finally admitted that his wife had indeed been sick, an announcement which made his media team look like liars or clueless about happenings in the seat of power.
On Sunday at the Aso Rock Chapel, the first lady herself, Dame Patience Jonathan, opened up before God, family and well wishers during a special thanksgiving service to mark her safe return after being admitted at the Horst Schmidt Klinik in Germany for two months, treating an undisclosed ailment. The deeply religious first family must have reasoned that as Christians, it is important that they ‘returned’ to thank God for the good he did in the life of Mrs. Jonathan.
And from her testimony at the occasion, she does have a lot to be thankful for.
“It was not an easy experience for me. I actually died,” said the first lady. It’s unclear if Dame Jonathan was being figurative, employing hyperbole, or meant those words the way she said them.
Continuing, she said: “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.
“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. Some of them even sold my things off. I won’t say everything here. It is the Lord’s doing that I returned alive.
“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 (surgery) 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. 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 thanksgiving service which was earlier scheduled for December 2012, had to be cancelled following the death of former Governor Patrick Yakowa of Kaduna State and former National Security Adviser, General Owoye Azazi, in a helicopter crash in Bayelsa State.
Present at the thanksgiving service on Sunday were President Goodluck Jonathan, ministers and other top government functionaries.