Friday, 7 March 2014
PHOTONEWS: First Lady Patience Jonathan's N500 Million "Resurrection" Thanksgiving Service In Abuja
First Lady Patience Jonathan Admits Undergoing Nine Surgeries In One Month As Lavish Thanksgiving Party Shuts Down Abuja
About 5000 guests, including 18 state governors, have overrun Abuja for a lavish thanksgiving party thrown for Nigeria’s First Lady, Patience Jonathan, at a cost of N500 million.
Although she had previously denied being in hospital in Germany, Mrs. Jonathan opened up today at a special service at the Aso Rock Chapel, stunning worshippers with the admission her medical condition had been very serious.
“I actually died,” Premium Times quoted her as testifying. “I passed out for more than a week. My intestine and tummy were opened.”
She said her doctors had actually given up hope, although she did not specify her diagnosis. “It was God himself in His infinite mercy that said I will return to Nigeria. God woke me up after seven days.”
During her six weeks away from Nigeria last year, the presidency refused to say anything to the country about her condition. Upon her return to Abuja on October 17, Mrs. Jonathan denied having been in any hospital. “I don’t even know that hospital they are talking about…” she said on that occasion. “I do not have any terminal illness or cosmetic surgery.”
For today’s thanksgiving merriment, an organising committee chaired by Mr. John Kennedy Okpara raised over N500m, which would most likely be presented to Mrs. Jonathan as a gift, as the presidency is bankrolling the event.
The thanksgiving, which is being broadcast live on the National Television Authority’s (NTA) local and international channels, has such dignitaries as President Goodluck Jonathan; Vice President Namadi Sambo and his wife, Haj Amina; former Ghana President John Agyekum Kufour; former Nigeria Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon; and Aisha Babangida, who is representing her ailing father and former military president, General Ibrahim Bademasi Babangida.
Also in attendance are members of the Federal Executive Council; wives of state governors; the wife of Senate President; the Deputy Senate President; Deputy Speaker Emeka Ihedioha; members of the National Assembly; the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Anyim Pius Anyim; the Head of the Federal Civil Service, Alhaji Bello Sali; the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria; and several members of the international community.
The function, which commenced at 3p.m. Nigerian time, is expected to go on into the late evening.
There were early invitations for 3,000 people, but the Banquet Hall of State House was quickly filled to capacity, with several guests unable to find a place to sit down.
Several trucks bearing gifts from government officials and contractors lined the streets of the presidential villa waiting to deliver gifts to the First Lady.
Our reporter saw luxury official cars parked everywhere around the Presidential Villa, from the Supreme Court to the Villa in Asokoro area of Abuja. Many of the guests parked their cars at the Eagle Square, where buses were provided to convey them to the venue of the event.
In 2012, Mrs. Jonathan suddenly became ill and was evacuated in a medical emergency to Germany. SaharaReporters was informed by well-placed sources that her medical troubles had begun earlier in Dubai, where she was then treated because her hands were twitching.
It was upon her return to Abuja following that experience that she was rushed in an air ambulance to Wiesbaden, Germany, where she reportedly underwent surgery to remove uterine fibroids. One of our sources said her condition was exacerbated by Parkinson’s disease, while the Lagos-based PM News reported that Mrs. Jonathan was being treated for uterine cancer.
The presidency neither confirmed nor denied any of the reports, until Mrs. Jonathan, upon her return, issued her own denial. In a November 2012 Media Chat, President Jonathan contradicted her account, telling reporters his wife had been ill and needed treatment.
Four weeks ago, on January 14, Mrs. Jonathan was again flown out to Germany on another emergency, less than 24 hours after SaharaReporters revealed that she was billed for another health-related trip to Spain. A scheduled appearance at a presidential event for foreign ambassadors was cancelled.
In her church testimony today, an apparently humbled Mrs. Jonathan revealed the extent of her suffering, including having “eight or nine operations” within a period of one month.
Of the future, she said, “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.”
Observers said this afternoon it will be curious to see how she implements that agenda, given her track record as well the massive “celebration” that is costing Nigerian taxpayers a ton of money on top of her humongous medical expenses so far.