Dame Patience And The Burden of Truth

The revelation by the wife of Nigeria president and a permanent secretary in the Bayelsa State Civil Service, Mrs Dame Patience Goodluck, during a state-lavished "Praise and Thanksgiving Service" in Abuja, that she was "dead" for seven days during an overseas medical treatment, sometimes last year, after her initial denial, did not ruffle most of us who have come to know the calibre of persons holding power in high places in Nigeria. On the contrary, the revelation, if anything at all, has just led credence to an already existing belief that the Goodluck Jonathan-led regime is characterised by falsehood and deceit!

The event, which was aired live by the same Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) that could not show soccer-loving Nigerians the clips of the just ended AFCON 2013, was suppose to be a medium for Madam First Lady to show her appreciation for Nigerians who "stood" by her during her "trial periods", turned out a moment of truth when she told the highly selected audience that she had travelled abroad last year for a medical treatment. She didn't stop at that, our First Lady went further to say that she "died" for seven days during the surgery but was brought back to life by God with the help of team of doctors. Hear her :“...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'm not enraged because Madam First Lady (like any other mortal would) fell sick and had to be flown abroad where there are better and more functional health facilities, far from it! My anger is purely on the dubious and shameful manner Aso Rock handled the farce while it lasted! Recall vividly that when the news of Madam's ill health was reported by the media late last year, the Aso Rock "attack dogs"

ferociously denied it. Specifically, the First Lady's Media Spokesman, Ayo Osinla and the President Special Adviser on Media, Dr Reuben Abati, severally told Nigerians that Madam travelled abroad "to take a moment rest" and that the report was a "rumour" and, therefore, nothing like that". But obviously, we now know there was actually "something like that".

As at the time of writing this piece, neither Abati nor his co-traveller, Osinla, has come up with any apology, or even a rebuttal. Yes, I will be the least surprised, if in the days ahead, the duo come out to deny that the First Lady ever made the statement!

They will, as usual, blame the media for "quoting" her "out of context, in which case they would go further to ask for the replay of the clips of that event. That is the level at which our "Today's Men"

(apology to Femi Kayode) have mortgaged their conscience on the altar of filthy lucre.

President Goodluck Jonathan is equally not absolved from this macabre.

The reason is that himself maintained an undignified silence during that ugly drama. His admission during his last Presidential Media Chat that the First Lady was actually treated of an undisclosed illness while abroad, was, to say the least, a medicine after death.

It is left to be imagined how the health of the First Lady could dominate national discourse and all the number one citizen could do was to keep mute! Dame Patience, too, joined in this shameful act when upon her arrival from the so-called trip, last year, she told newsmen at the Airport that "I do not have any terminal illness or cosmetic surgery". Methink Nigerians deserve a better dealing than this contemptuous treatment from these opportunists who parade themselves on the corridors of power and continue to take our collect intelligence for a ride.

Similar incident recently played out in Enugu State over the health of Governor Sullivan Chime. Until the governor himself, who was away for many months from office admitted that he was sick and had to undergo an operation to remove a nose cancer, his media handlers (including the trio of Governors Rotimi Amechi, Gabriel Suswan and Godwin

Akpabio) were still peddling lies that the governor was "hale and hearty". It is worthless to mention the drama in Taraba State, too, over the whereabout of the seriously sick governor Suntai. like one of the opposition parties rightly stated in its press release , if the highly placed and religious Pope John Paul II could make his state of health a subject of global discourse, one wonders why government officials in Nigeria would continue to hide and tell lies about the state of their health, even when it is too glaring.

When the Venezuelan President, Hugo Chaveza, was admitted in Cuban hospital for a surgery late last year, Venezuelans received a minute-to-minute updates on the treatment of their president, and they intensified their prayers and goodwill messages for the quick recovery of the ailing president. And recently the man returned to the warm embrace of the anxious citizens. Can our leaders ever learn from this classic leadership examples?

In a more civilised climes, where public servants hold the electorates in high esteem, the likes of Abati, Osinla and their co-travellers would have done the most honourable thing by resigning their posts and subsequently apologising to Nigerians. But certainly that is expecting too much from men and women who decided to be absent when good manner (apology to Senator Adeyeye), integrity and honesty were being distributed to humanity by God.

Okoro Gabriel

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Articles by Okoro Gabriel Bryne