Untold Gists of First Lady’s Thanksgiving, By Olalekan Adetayo
Wife of the President, Mrs. Patience Jonathan, was at her best again on Sunday. The venue was the Aso Villa Chapel where she joined her husband, our outgoing President, for a special thanksgiving and farewell service organised in their honour.
As usual, President Jonathan arrived the chapel a bit earlier than his wife. He was already seated, engrossed in the Sunday School, a Bible study session that always precedes the Sunday service proper before his wife arrived. The President’s Chaplain, Ven. Obioma Onwuzurumba, was the one conducting the session. He threw a question at the congregation and his wife, Martha, stood up to offer an answer.
It was in the process of answering that question that the main door of the fully air-conditioned chapel was thrown open to enable Mrs. Jonathan and her retinue of aides to move in. Mrs. Onwuzurumba had to pause for a few minutes to allow the new entrants find their seats before she continued with the answer.
Mama Peace remained calm throughout the service. She read the first lesson of the service from Numbers 6:22-27. After the message was delivered, Onwuzurumba announced that the President and his family would offer a special thanksgiving while Mrs. Jonathan would also offer another special thanksgiving.
At that point, I had started suspecting that something would happen. For the first thanksgiving, Jonathan, his wife and members of their family danced forward with their offering. They were asked to stand on the altar and face the congregation while friends, political associates and well-wishers danced forward, dropped their offerings and danced back to their seats. All of us danced very well in the presence of God except for Jonathan who had confessed penultimate Sunday that whenever he considered what God had done in his life, he wished he could dance like the biblical King David but he kept missing his steps whenever he made attempts.
After praying for them, Onwuzurumba announced that Mrs. Jonathan would give a short testimony before coming for her thanksgiving. I quickly ran from my seat and located a loudspeaker where I hurriedly placed my digital recorder. I knew that mama would give a good story for Monday edition. I was however disappointed when it was again announced that she would go ahead with her thanksgiving without the testimony. I felt bad that those who prevailed on her not to talk had deprived me of a good story.
To my greatest relief however, immediately after the thanksgiving, Onwuzurumba again announced that before Jonathan would speak to the congregation, a forerunner would come and speak. That forerunner turned out to be Mrs. Jonathan. She was full of smile as the congregation stood and clapped for her.
After greeting almost everybody in the church, including choristers who she described as “angels,” the President’s wife took time to acknowledge journalists. “The media men are not left out. Today is your day. You are here to carry (sic) the last news,” she said as she joined the congregation that had already erupted in laughter. I heard some colleagues saying, “God forbid! This won’t be the last story we will write.”
The man behind the camera that projects images on the television screens both inside and outside the chapel mischievously focused his camera on the battery of television cameramen that positioned themselves directly in front of Mrs. Jonathan. As the image appeared on the screen, another round of laughter cut through the chapel.
She held the congregation spellbound as she recounted her health challenges while their stay in the Villa lasted. At the last count, according to her, she had undergone 13 surgeries in the last two years. She attributed her continued existence to God. The testimony earned her another round of applause and standing ovation.
By the time the President would mount the pulpit for his remarks, his wife had already done a good forerunner job and he confirmed that when he said he would no longer bother to observe any protocol as he would rely on the one already established by his wife.
No doubt, Mrs. Jonathan will be missed by all and sundry in the villa for different reasons. For me, I will miss her because she gives me good story when she speaks, when she refuses to speak or when she is absent when she is supposed to be present. Mama is indeed journalists’ delight any day.
Changing the Game Changer, Mr. Fix It
I wrote here a few weeks back how the nickname, Game Changer, given to Adamu Muazu by the President affected him greatly as the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party.
I wrote that under him, the game changed for the ruling party and it became an opposition party among other negative changes that came its way as a result of the last general election.
Oh Wednesday, the Game Changer again changed the game by throwing in the towel. He bowed out as the party’s helmsman. Uche Secondus has since taken over as acting chairman. The chairman of the party’s Board of Trustees, Chief Tony Anenih, too could not stay back to fix the party despite his own nickname of Mr. Fix It. He too resigned his position.
Now the game is changing in the party, only God knows those who will fix it.
Fare the well, Mr. President
By the time this column will be coming your way next Saturday, I will be left with no other choice than to add the prefix “former” to the President’s title. By that time, Jonathan would have vacated his seat for Muhammadu Buhari.
Irrespective of the different opinions people may have about him, the President has done his part. There is indeed a time for everything under the sun; a time to take the oath of office and a time to bow out of the same office.
In case you do not know, Jonathan’s favourite hymn is “Stand by Me.” It is a gospel hymn written by the Philadelphia minister, Charles Albert Tindley, in 1905. I have therefore decided to send him off in my own little way with the second stanza of that his favourite hymn:
In the midst of tribulation,
Stand by me (stand by me);
In the midst of tribulation,
Stand by me (stand by me);
When the hosts of hell assail,
And my strength begins to fail,
Thou Who never lost a battle,
Stand by me (stand by me).
You have said you have been caged for over a decade, you will be getting your deserved freedom from Friday. Fare thee well, Mr. President.