Under strict instruction from President Goodluck Jonathan, the Nigerian ambassador to Germany, Abdu Abubakar, made sure a delegation of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, which recently visited Germany, had no access to First Lady Patience, who is currently on admission in a hospital in the country.
The governors, who had visited Germany to deepen their knowledge of federalism and attract investors to their respective states, were already in that country when news broke that the First Lady was being hospitalized there.
A source familiar with the matter said after they received news of Mrs Jonathan’s hospitalization, the governors contacted Ambassador Abubakar seeking information on how they could visit the First Lady in hospital.
The governors, our sources said, made several overtures to Ambassador Abubakar, who constantly evaded them while making excuses that he was busy running errands for President Jonathan.
The delegation, led by Governor Rotimi Amaechi, included Governors Sullivan Chime of Enugu, Babangida Aliyu of Niger, Jonah Jang of Plateau, Kashim Shettima of Borno and Ibrahim Shema of Katsina.
Our source 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 fenced the governors off from the First Lady following strict instructions from President Jonathan that his wife’s condition be kept entirely “private and secret.”
He said when the governors offered to visit the First Lady, Ambassador Abubakar contacted the presidency for clearance.
In response, Mr. Jonathan, sources in the presidency told PREMIUM TIMES, ordered the ambassador to block the governors from visiting her.
“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.”
Mr. Jonathan’s spokespersons, Reuben Abati and Doyin Okupe did not answer or return calls seeking their comments for this story.
Mrs. Jonathan fell sick about late August after she hosted a summit of first ladies from across Africa. Her ailment worsened after local health officials erred in managing her condition and thought she had food poisoning.
She was subsequently rushed to Germany where authoritative presidency sources told PREMIUM TIMES she was treated for “ruptured appendicitis.”
Official denials and cover-ups are the usual mode of response from government whenever high profile officials are down with illness and on admission abroad.
It got to a most ridiculous extent when the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua was sick.
Officials lied and played deception games on Nigerians for half a year, never offering information on the true state of his health, till he died.
The circumstances surrounding his death is still a mystery till date.