Nigeria’s First Lady Dame Patience Jonathan on her arrival…Wednesday
By Muhammad Bello
Negating earlier speculations that have been making the waves that she may have given up the ghost while she was away in Germany for medical treatment, Nigeria’s First Lady Dame Patience Jonathan flew into the country Wednesday afternoon hale and hearty.
Walking in her usual slow, deliberate steps, the First lady, who was wearing a multi-coloured dyed kampala attire, was surrounded by few jubilant enthusiasts shortly after the presidential aircraft which brought her touched down at the airport.
Hours before her arrival attempts to get details about her journey were not successful as both security operatives and airport officials kept sealed lips, refusing to disclose whether or not she has departed Germany and when she was arriving.
Mrs Jonathan who arrived at about 4 p.m. Wednesday was a bit frail but in good spirits. She spoke briefly and haltingly thanking the assemblage of women and other dignitaries who were at hand to receive her.
The crowd consisting mostly of women, youth groups and traditional dancers, dressed in colourful outfit sang and danced, thanking God for her safe arrival. There were also lot of jostling and forcing many to maintain a safe distance in order to avoid being trampled.
She thanked God for her successful treatment and recuperation, while appreciating the concern, prayers and well-wishes of Nigerians while she was away. She was, shortly thereafter, driven out of the airport to the presidential villa amidst tight security.
She declared that she neither did cosmetic surgery to trim her shape as widely reported.
Mrs. Jonathan was received by all female ministers and other presidential aides at the airport with the Petroleum Minister, Diezani Alison-Maduekwe saying "We thank God she is back and she is well."
The First Lady took on cynics who insinuated that she was going to die like Gen. Sani Abacha, Stella Obasanjo and President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua.
"Thank God Almighty for bringing me back safely to Nigeria. Wherever they are good people they are also bad ones.
"They are few Nigerians that are saying whatever they like not what God planned because God has a plan for all of us. And God has said it all that when two or three are gathered in his name that he will be with them. And Nigerians gathered and prayed for me and God listened and heard their prayers, so I thank God for that.
"At the same time I will use this opportunity to tell those few ones that are saying that anybody that goes to villa or Aso Rock will die. They mentioned Abacha, they mentioned Stella Obasanjo, they mentioned Yar'Adua and other people. But those people why didn't they mention those ones that went there with their families and succeeded and they still came out alive.
"We should remember that Aso Rock is the seat of power and that is where God has ordained for we Nigerians that our leaders should rule from and to rule us right. God is wonderful and his infinite mercy endures.
"At the same time, I read in the media where they said I was in the hospital. God almighty knows I have never been to that hospital, I don't even know the hospital they mentioned.
"I have to explain what God has done for me. I do not have terminal illness, neither did I do any cosmetic surgery, talk more or less of tummy tuck. My husband loves me as I am and I am pleased with how God created me I cannot add anything.
"But at the same time, I will use this opportunity to thank my beloved husband and my children and my staff in general and all Nigerians for standing by me during my trial time.
"God has given be a second chance to come and work with women of Nigeria, children and the less privileged. I have come to serve Nigeria, I have come to work with Nigerians, I am there for them. Once more I am pleased to be back. I love Nigerians they are my family."
Meanwhile, the First Lady returned to the embrace of her husband, children and her mother-in-law, Mrs. Eunice Jonathan and her domestic staff at about 5 p.m.
Her staff sang songs of joy in Ijaw dialect, clapping and dancing. The song translated means "Thank you God. You have done us good. Thank God. Lord you have done us good. Thank you".
They turned out in T-shirts with her pictures and with these words printed on them: "we love you; we miss you, welcome back. May you live long".
Some of the dignitaries there to receive here were the Bayelsa State Governor, Sariake Dickson, female ministers and some of their male counterparts like Culture and Tourism, Minister of State Education the Chief of Staff, State House Chief of Protocol (SCOPE), Special Advisers on Media, Chief Personal Physician, and other senior media aids working in the presidency.
THISDAY learnt that she left the German hospital around 11 a.m. and was taken to an undisclosed location by senior authorities of the Nigerian Embassy in Germany. She reached Abuja in the afternoon about two hours after she was actually expected around 2 p.m.
Prior to her arrival a retinue of wives of state governors, politicians, officials of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), some female ministers, women groups and other well-wishers thronged the presidential area of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport making merry and bantering as they all waited for her.
Early Wednesday there was anticipation that the first lady will be back as some presidential sources dropped the hint, saying doctors at the Horst Schmidt Klinik in Germany had certified her fit enough to be discharged and return to the country.