by Stanley Azuakola
In times of illness, a little goodwill goes a long way. That must have been the reasoning of some state governors who were in Germany recently and thought they could visit Nigeria’s first lady, Dame Patience Jonathan, currently hospitalised in that country. However, her husband and Nigeria’s president, Goodluck Jonathan seemed to be of the opinion that their goodwill isn’t what she needs now.
Consequently, the president gave strict instructions to the Nigerian ambassador to Germany, Abdul Abubakar, to ensure that the delegation of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, had no access to the First Lady.
Their main reason for visiting Germany was to “deepen their knowledge of federalism and attract investors to their respective states.” While they were there however, according to a source familiar with the matter, they received news of the first lady’s hospitalisation. The governors reached the ambassador wanting to know how they could visit the First Lady in the hospital but were constantly evaded.
The Nigeria Governors’ Forum delegation was led by the chairman of the forum, Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers); Sullivan Chime (Enugu); Babangida Aliyu (Niger); Jonah Jang (Plateau); Kashim Shettima (Borno) and Ibrahim Shema (Katsina).
The Premium Times which reported on the incident, quoted a source who said, “The governors, though in Germany for a different reason, had hoped to extend the African courtesy and hospitality to the first lady when they received the cold treatment from the ambassador.”
Another diplomatic source said Ambassador Abubakar’s refusal to grant access to the governors was based on an instruction from the president that the condition of his wife be kept entirely “private and secret.”
“The ambassador and other officials at the Nigerian embassy in Germany made sure they kept Mrs Jonathan’s whereabouts and condition secret,” the source said.
“The governors became frustrated and stopped trying.”
The first lady, according to sources, is being treated for “ruptured appendicitis” in Germany.