Speculations were rife on Wednesday that the trip of President Goodluck Jonathan and his wife, Patience, to Germany which the Presidency described as “a private visit” might be on health grounds.
The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, had on Tuesday issued a statement indicating that Jonathan would leave Abuja for Germany en-route to Paris, France to participate in the Summit on Peace and Security in Africa.
Abati said the President would stop over in Germany for a private visit on his way to Paris and return to Abuja at the conclusion of the summit on Saturday.
The announcement of the “private visit” coming a few weeks after he fell sick in London, fuelled speculation that Jonathan might have decided to visit the same German hospital where his wife sought medical attention for about seven weeks last year.
Since he was accompanied by Patience, speculations were also rife that she might use the opportunity of the visit to undergo a medical check-up.
The fears were further confirmed on Wednesday when it was discovered that many of the President’s close aides, who usually accompany him on foreign trips, did not travel with him.
Our correspondent learnt that some of them might join the President in Paris later in the week.
The social media were on Wednesday awash with reports of the motive of President’s German trip.
An online news site, SaharaReporters, reported that Jonathan and his wife checked into a hospital in Germany on Wednesday.
Although Jonathan fell sick during his recent trip to London and was treated of severe abdominal pains, he had since his return been attending state functions.
Apart from being at the opening of the second North-East Economic Summit in Gombe State, the President also received President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Tuesday evening.
Efforts to get Abati to speak on the President’s alleged visit to a German hospital did not yield any positive result as of 10pm on Wednesday.
When contacted on the telephone, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe, said he could not comment on the matter because he had not established contact with the President abroad.
Patience had at a thanksgiving service on February 17 narrated how a debilitating sickness almost took her life at a time the Federal Government was telling Nigerians that she was in a perfect condition.
The President’s wife had said she passed out for over seven days and that her aides, believing that she was dead, were already selling her personal effects before God “miraculously” brought her back to life.
Punctuating her testimony with praise songs, Patience had told the congregation that she underwent nine surgeries within one month in London.
She had said, “I remember when Chief (Olusegun) Obasanjo was the President of the country, I was close to his late wife, Stella. We worshipped together in the chapel.
“It was a painful moment for me that time when she died and her corpse was brought here. That was how my corpse would have been brought here. It was not an easy experience for me. 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 own. My doctors said all hope was lost.
“It was God himself, in His infinite mercy, that said I would return to Nigeria. God woke me up after seven days.”
The President, at the event, had said the recovery of his wife succeeded in putting an end to the superstitious belief that no President ever entered the Presidential Villa and left with his family intact.
He had said, “The story was that one of us (the President or his wife) will die. Today we are celebrating her.
“Her recovery has put an end to that belief. I am not too good in celebrating, but for this particular one, I think we have to thank God for keeping the life of my wife.
“If anything had happened, there would have been different stories. Fake prophets would have given their stories.
“As mortals, we must fall sick and die but how and when are what matter most.
“To die when serving your people is not good. Death should come after you have finished serving.”
The President had also recalled that when he was still a deputy governor in Bayelsa State, he lost a second cousin.
He had said during the burial, a story was told of how anybody in his community, who was attaining prominence always died mysteriously.
Jonathan had added that all eyes were focused on him, apparently insinuating that it was his time to die.
He said he had prayed hard that he would not die young and God had answered him.