First Lady, Patience Jonathan, on Sunday opened up on her controversial medical trip last year, admitting for the first time she ailed terribly and was close to dying.
Mrs. Jonathan, who spoke at a special thanksgiving service at the Aso Rock Chapel where the first family worships, said she underwent multiple surgical operations and at some point her doctors lost hope after she “passed out for more than a week.”
“It was not an easy experience for me,” Mrs. Jonathan told the congregation which included senior government officials. “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 will return to Nigeria. God woke me up after seven days,” she narrated.
Mrs. Jonathan’s remarks at the church service, was the first time the presidency would admit the First Lady was seriously sick as widely speculated in 2012.
Mrs. Jonathan was on admission at the Horst Schmidt Klinik in Germany for an undisclosed ailment although multiple reports suggested she was treated for lungs and abdominal problems.
While the news circulated, the presidency ensured an anxious public remained in the dark about her condition, repeatedly insisting Mrs. Jonathan traveled for a “deserved rest”.
The thanksgiving service was delayed for two months, after the initial schedule was moved due to the helicopter crash deaths of former governor of Kaduna state, Patrick Yakowa, and the former National Security Adviser, Owoeye Azazi.
President Goodluck Jonathan, ministers and top government functionaries attended the event on Sunday.
During a stirring session, the First Lady narrated how she went through “hell” while in hospital and said she has dedicated her life to serving the needy.
“It is the Lord’s doing that I returned alive,” she said. “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 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.”
While she lay dying in Germany, friends and associates who hoped she will not be making it back to Nigeria with life, scrambled for her properties, selling those they could,” Mrs. Jonathan said.
She accused some of those she trusted of leaking information to the public that she had passed on.
“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,” she said. “Some of them even sold my things off. “I won’t say everything here.”
She said she believed she had not completed her assignment on earth, which was why God spared her.
“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 privilege. 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 said.