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Jonathan, at goodbye service, seeks forgiveness from Nigerians

By Mohammed Abubakar, Abuja
18 May 2015   |   3:00 am
PRESIDENT Goodluck Jonathan, yesterday sought forgiveness from those Nigerians he might have wronged in the course of discharging his duties.
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….First Lady relives her multiple surgeries

PRESIDENT Goodluck Jonathan, yesterday sought forgiveness from those Nigerians he might have wronged in the course of discharging his duties.

And aligning herself to her husband’s mood, the First Lady , Dame Patience, telling the ‘true story’ of the multiple surgeries that threatened her life, thanked God for her survival.

She stressed that she and her husband were able to break the jinx of couples at the priced political seat not leaving with their spouses.

The occasion was the last Thanksgiving Service by the management of the Villa Chapel for the First Family that has become a tradition for the past eight years.

Also it would have served as a period of the formal handover of the Chapel to the Vice-President-elect, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo as the political head of the Chapel.

However, Osinbajo was not present , but the Regional Pastor of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, (RCCG), Pastor Emmanuel Ibitaye was introduced as standing-in for him.

But the outgoing Villa Chaplain, Venerable Obioma Onwuzurumba confirmed to reporters that a formal handover would take place at a later date.

The then President Olusegun Obasanjo had on Sunday May 27, 2007 handed over the Chapel to Jonathan as the political head.

The President had a word of gratitude for those who have been with them through thick and thin, noting that though , he and his wife might be leaving the corridors of power, their doors were still wide open, adding that they now hope to enjoy more cordial relationships, devoid of officialdom.

In a speech laced with emotions, Jonathan said: “Let me express our appreciation to all those who have stood by us. We came in as Vice President and wife .

“Today we are leaving as former President and former First Lady. What we have achieved we did through you. Let me specifically thank the Chaplain, the clergymen, the pastors and their wives.

“For the past eight years, we have had every reason to be thankful to God. Every individual has his or her own calling. I also believe that people who take over political leadership have their own callings to do specific things. No one head of government, whether at the national level or the sub-regional levels can do everything alone.

“For the eight years that one has been here, no one has been perfect. We have certainly done things in a way that probably we wouldn’t have done, but we didn’t do them deliberately.

“For those we have offended, it was not deliberate, but due to circumstances of the office. So we also plead that those people should forgive, as we think we did our best.

“You can do your best and your friends may misunderstand you. Today we are talking about leaving. It is only God that knows why things go the way they do. Ordinarily 24th May would haven been the last service here. But on that date, we will all go to the National Christian Centre (NCC) for the inauguration service. So for my wife and I, this is our last day of worship here.

“Though we are leaving as President and First Lady, we have not left you, because we are still in this country.

“We will continue to interact, and probably along the line , we may even come closer and even do more meaningful things together when we leave office. The office is quite challenging, some of you may desire to see us, I believe as we move forward, things will get better.”

The President told the well-attended service on the need for individuals to strive to leave a lasting legacy, saying: “Before one leaves, it is always good to leave a legacy.”.

Going down memory lane, Jonathan said: “When I became governor of Bayelsa State something came to my mind that I would have to leave a legacy behind.

“Because Bayelsa is more riverine than Rivers State , I decided that I was going to build two major bridges yearly. Everybody has to have something to leave behind.”

Agreeing with the chaplain, who had earlier said that perfection was only for God, Jonathan noted that if humans wait for perfection, they would not achieve anything.

“No system is perfect. Every human system must have an element of imperfection.”

Jonathan said his transition from Vice President to President was gradual and complicated.
“It was intertwined so you cannot actually draw the line. Because when the President was challenged with a major health issue, I was running the country for some time even before the Doctrine of Necessity made me Acting President.

Then I took over , and conducting the 2011 election, won and had to run my full four years as elected President.”

He said, he did not really believe that it is only in government that people could do things, saying outside government, a lot of things could be done.

“The richest people in the world don’t even serve in government”, he said , citing examples of Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote and Microsoft founder, Bill Gates.

His words: “Neither Aliko Dangote nor Bill Gates has ever been in government, so you don’t need to be in government to be rich. It is for us to be committed and continue to be focused.”

Speaking earlier, the First Lady had revealed for the first time, her ordeals in the hands of the doctors, saying the situation was so bad she had 12 operations in one month.

She said her survival was miraculous and an indication that God had a mission for her in the world.

“I really thank God for keeping me alive. People prophesied that one of us would not go back home alive. But God has made it possible that the two of us are going home healthy. In the last two years, I went through one surgery after another that came to about 12.

“Some people said I was dead but God resurrected me. We thank God that my husband and I are going back home alive.

Thank God today we are leaving very much alive , hale and hearty.”

She said she never ever dreamt of being wife of even a deputy governor “because my husband was not a politician. But God made it possible and God lifted us up from deputy governor and here we are.

“Therefore, we should be grateful to God for what he has done to my family and I.

“We praise God. To our followers, today it might not be too good but I want them to be grateful to God because you have followed us from when we were Deputy Governor, Governor, Vice President and finally, President.
There is no permanent thing so I want you to take it in good faith that it is the will of God and you should be praising God.”

Highlights of the occasion were presentations of gifts to the First Family by the management of the Chapel and parting prayers to the family.

The Minister of Power, Prof. Chinedu Nebo a Venerable in Anglican Church offered special prayers for the President, while the former Minister of Information, Prof. Jerry Gana offered prayers for the First Lady.