For about seven weeks in 2012, First Lady of Nigeria Patience Jonathan was away from the country and during this period, speculations were rife about her health condition. There were several insinuations about her absence. Some media reports claimed she had cancer, others claimed she had fibroid while some claimed she went to have a cosmetic surgery among others. During this period, the Presidency only denied the insinuations saying she travelled to rest and kept mute for so long, even when she returned to the country to a lavish reception.
However, yesterday at a thanksgiving service held at the Presidential Villa, she finally revealed how a debilitating sickness almost took her life saying that she passed out for over seven days and that her aides, believing that she was dead, were already selling her personal effects before God “miraculously” brought her back to life.
Punch reports that she did not reveal the nature of her ailment but spoke about some of the things she passed through during that period.
“I remember when Chief (Olusegun) Obasanjo was the President of the country, I was close to his late wife, Stella. We worshipped together in this chapel. It was a painful moment for me that time when she died and her corpse was brought here. That was how my corpse would have been brought here. 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 own. My doctors said all hope was lost. 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.
“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 every day. It was God who saw me through. I did eight or nine operations within one month. It was not an easy one.”
She said her experience taught her that there was nothing like a First Lady and that she realised that she was “a common woman and my name is simply Patience.” President Goodluck Jonathan who spoke at the reception after the thanksgiving service said that he lost a second cousin while he was still a deputy governor in Bayelsa State and that during the burial, a story was told how anybody in his community who is gradually going into limelight always die mysteriously. Following this, he said all eyes were focused on him, apparently insinuating that it was his time to die, Punch reports.
“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. To die when serving your people is not good. Death should come after you have finished serving.”
The first lady was away between August and 14th October 2012. When she returned, she denied having a cosmetic surgery or tummy tuck as was widely speculated and since then, has been silent about her absence until yesterday.
Photo Credit: Reuben Abati