First Lady, Mrs Patience Jonathan
By Muhammad Bello
The First Lady, Mrs Patience Jonathan, Sunday spoke out for the first time on the illness she suffered from last year which necessitated her evacuation to a German hospital, where she spent three months undergoing treatment.
Mrs Jonathan, at a thanksgiving service she hosted at the State House Presidential Villa, Abuja, to celebrate her recovery, said like Lazarus in the Bible, she literally came from the dead having been in coma for seven days.
The first lady, in an emotion-laden voice, told the gathering at the service, which included her husband, President Goodluck Jonathan, ministers and some top government officials, that her being alive today was a miracle.
Mrs. Jonathan, who was on admission at the Horst Schmidt Klinik in Germany, however, did not disclose her ailment.
In her remarks at the thanksgiving service, the first lady said she went through hell while in the hospital and it was only God that brought her back to life.
According to her, many of her close aides and associates actually thought she was dead and leaked the information to the public, adding that some even went as far as selling some of her belongings.
Jonathan, during the service, also recalled an ominous prediction by ‘prophets’ that nobody goes into the presidential villa and comes out alive or without losing his spouse. He therefore sought for prayers that neither him nor any member of his family would die during his tenure.
Alluding to the late First Lady, Mrs. Stella Obasanjo, Mrs Jonathan said: “That was how my corpse would have been brought here. It was not an easy experience for me. I actually died.
“A black doctor in London who is with us in this service was flown in when the situation became critical. It was God himself in His infinite mercy that said I would return to Nigeria. God woke me up after seven days,” she added.
While thanking God for restoring her health, she promised to dedicate her life to assisting the less privileged.
She said: “It was not an easy experience for me. 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 would return to Nigeria. God woke me up after seven days. I know that some people somehow leaked the information that I was dead.
“They were people that I trusted and relied 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 every day.
“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 first lady was flown to Germany after she was said to have been seriously ill.
She returned to the country in October to a rousing welcome by family and aides, although at the time, she denied that she had undergone a surgical procedure or cosmetic surgery.
However, her husband had confirmed during a media chat last November that she was ill but that she had recovered.
While there, there was a veil of secrecy on her trip and why she was away for so long. But THISDAY had exclusively reported in September 2012 that she underwent surgery in the German hospital for a ruptured appendix.
Her media aide, Ayo Oshinlu, insisted then that she only travelled abroad to rest, while the Special Adviser to the president on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, said he was unaware of the first lady’s condition.
The decision to fly her abroad followed her deteriorating health condition in Abuja after she was initially treated for “food poisoning”.
It was learnt that Mrs. Jonathan, shortly after returning from a trip to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), took ill, prompting the invitation of the First Family’s medical personnel to attend to her.
She was said to have been treated for food poisoning for four days, “but her condition kept worsening by the day,” a source had told THISDAY.
In his remarks, the president, who appreciated the presence of dignitaries at the church service, pointed out that the day was a special one for him and the first family.
He recalled that when he was the deputy governor of Bayelsa State and his second cousin died, a mentor of his lamented how people he knew who were on the verge of becoming successful suddenly die.
He said the man looked in his direction and he quickly interjected immediately by saying: I will not die.”
Afterwards the church, he explained, prayed for him.
He further added that there were foreboding predictions of death about him and his wife when he was elected.
“Thank God for keeping the life of my wife. If anything had happened to her, there would have been many stories. The fake prophets would have had their predictions fulfilled,” he added.
He urged Nigerians not to relent in prayers for the good of the country, adding: “If you love this country, you will not talk about divisions. God willing, we will begin to turn things around.”
Dignitaries who graced the occasion included Vice-President Mohammed Namadi Sambo and his wife Amina, former Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon and his wife, Victoria; Head of Interim National Government, Chief Ernest Shonekan; former Ghanaian President, John Kuffour; wife of the Senate President, Mrs Helen Mark, who represented her husband and Chief Justice of the Federation (CJN), Justice Aloma Mukhtar.
Others were the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, ministers, governors, lawmakers, former first ladies - Hajiya Maryam Sani Abacha and Justice Fati Lami Abubakar - as well as wife of former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, Titi.
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) President, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, prayed for the first family and the country to round off the thanksgiving service.