The immediate past President of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan, Saturday, appealed to the people of Bayelsa and the Niger Delta to continue praying for him and his family.
Mr. Jonathan spoke at a Special Thanksgiving Service organised by the Bayelsa State government at St. Peters Anglican Church, Yenagoa.
“Let me again thank all of you, and continue to request that your prayers should not stop now, even as we leave office,” said Mr. Jonathan. “I believe we still have a part to play in the development of our society, even as a former president,
“With your prayers and your support, I’ll be strong enough to work with all of you in the development of our communities, local governments, and states and our nation.”
Mr. Jonathan also used the opportunity to thank members of his cabinet who attended the service; the Bayelsa State government; and Ayo Oritsejafor, the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria.
He also thanked Nyesom Wike, the newly sworn-in Rivers State governor, who led a delegation of state officials
and PDP members in Rivers State, to the service.
Mr. Jonathan expressed his gratitude to Diepreye Alamieseigha, the former governor of Bayelsa State, without whom, he said, he would not have become president.
“At a time when I was not even thinking of being a commissioner in the state, he came to me and said I should run with him. That’s why I’m here today. Without him it won’t have been possible.”
The Thanksgiving Service was billed to begin at 11 a.m., but after Mr. Jonathan and his wife arrived 20 minutes later, it kicked off at 11.30 a.m.
Mr. Jonathan read the first lesson of the service, from the Luke, and afterwards the officiating minister announced that the former president had requested for a special song for the service, Stand By Me.
“In the midst of faults and failure, stand by me; When I do the best I can, and my friends misunderstand, Thou knowest all about me, Stand by me,” the congregation sang.
Mrs. Jonathan read out the second lesson, taken from Psalm 121.
After reading the Bible chapter, she broke into a song, “What shall I say unto the Lord, all I have to say is thank You Lord.”
The congregation chorused after her.
David Oyedepo, the general overseer of Living Faith Church Worldwide, had been slated to preach the sermon, but in his absence, Uma Ukpai, the head of the Uyo-based Victory Cathedral Fellowship, took the baton.
Quoting copiously from the Book of Job, Mr. Ukpai said that any life without problem is useless.
“Problem is a pathway to promotion,” he said. “So if you want to be a great man, ask God for problems. Anyone who has no enemy is an idiot. That is to say, people have looked at you and saw that you have nothing worth contending for.
“Everyone must go through that other side of life. Sunlight becomes darkness, good health becomes sickness. Nobody remains on the sunny side of life. Every one of us will be tested, you can’t escape it. If you have not been tested, you can’t be a good soldier of the cross.”
Mr. Ukpai described Mr. Jonathan as a man who “doesn’t look like a Nigerian”.
“He was a man who was teachable, a man you could confront and he would listen to you,” he said.
In his welcome remarks, Seriake Dickson, the Bayelsa State governor, said the thanksgiving service was to round off activities marking the “heroic homecoming of the hero of democracy”.
“The significance of this thanksgiving service, we that are his children feel that all the activities we had put together will not be complete unless we come together to thank this awesome God,” said Mr. Dickson.
“Our leader did a great job, he acquitted himself creditably and we are proud of him. He has entered an exclusive club of national statesmen and international statesmen.”