The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) has congratulated First Lady Patience Jonathan for her miraculous return from the dead, while slamming the presidency for losing whatever is left of its credibility over its handling of the First Lady's illness saga.
In a statement issued in Lagos on Monday by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party said the revelation by the First Lady on the extent of her illness, especially the fact that she passed out for seven days before she said God miraculously brought her back to life, cannot but elicit joy among Nigerians, irrespective of their political leanings.
However, Nigerians must be wondering why the government they elected into office chose to lie to them that the First Lady was holidaying abroad when indeed she was gravely ill in a foreign hospital.
''While we felicitate with the First Lady of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on her recovery from whatever illness it was that afflicted her, we will be remiss if we fail to recollect how the presidency denied 'rumours' of the First Lady illness and poured scorn on the media and the imaginary enemies of the government for fuelling the 'satanic rumours'.
''We will also like to remind the presidency that its denial, instead of full disclosure that would have elicited nothing more than fervent prayers from Nigerians, fuelled the rumours that the First Lady suffered from sundry afflictions or the consequences of tummy tuck!'' ACN said.
The party said that in one of the many rebuttals, the First Lady's spokesperson, Ayo Osinlu, was quoted to have said she (Mrs Jonathan) travelled abroad to take a 'moment's rest', given that she had not taken a rest since President Jonathan's election.
Osinlu had told Nigerians in the heat of the illness saga: ''If you look at her itinerary in August (2012), you will be wondering how she was able to accomplish that. In the course of this week, she will be back home.
But remember, it all depends on her plans.''
ACN also recalled that the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, dismissed Mrs. Jonathan's reported illness as a rumour, saying ''there is nothing like that.''
It said that amid all the denials, the President himself maintained a stoic mien and carried on with his duties as if all was well, thereby lending credibility to the lies and deceit.
''The issue here is simple If the presidency can so shamefacedly lie on an issue of such public interest as the health of the First Lady, why should we not believe it can lie on any other issue, whether it is economy, politics, social development or any other matter? For how long has this presidency been misleading Nigerians on critical issues, since we now have reason to doubt its credibility? Does it occur to this presidency that it has turned Nigeria to a laughing stock by its now routine denials of the truth?
''Like we have said time and again, any government needs to be credible to win the trust of the citizens, without which it cannot govern effectively.
With the revelation by our back-from-the-dead First Lady, it is clear that the Jonathan Presidency has egg on its face, and must apologize to Nigerians for lying to them.
Also, the spokesmen for this government have lost total credibility, hence their words will henceforth be taken with a pinch of salt,'' the party said.
It reiterated its earlier stand that the health of public officials cannot and must not be a closet affair, because it is of public interest. While it may be argued, though not conceded, that the First Lady is not a public official by virtue of her position, she is a public official by virtue of her being a Permanent Secretary in Bayelsa State!
''It is sad that despite what we and many Nigerian groups and individuals have said on this issue, the Jonathan Administration took its script directly from the Yar'adua group's book of deceit when the late President was ill and flown abroad.
Now, Governors Sullivan Chime of Enugu, Danbaba Suntai of Taraba and Liyel Imoke of Cross River are all playing according to the Jonathan script.
''We are therefore renewing our call for openness and full disclosure on the state of health of public officials. Life itself is transient, not to talk of positions. And as a spiritual leader of the calibre of Pope Benedict has shown recently, no office is more important that life itself,'' ACN said
Alhaji Lai Mohammed
National Publicity Secretary
Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN)
Lagos, Feb. 18th 2013