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For the first time today, wife of President Goodluck Jonathan, Patience, gave an indication that she might be behind the crisis rocking Rivers State as she opened up on a plethora of grudges she is nursing against Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi.
Mrs. Jonathan spoke in Abuja on Wednesday during a courtesy visit to the Presidential Villa by 16 bishops from the Niger Delta geo-political zone. The bishops came from a variety of denominations.
A week and a half ago, the state’s political crisis degenerated into violence as law makers in the state engaged in a bloody fight using their fists and a gavel smuggled in by a group suspected to be working at the behest of First Lady Patience Jonathan.
In her speech, Mrs. Jonathan stated that the crisis in Rivers State started four years ago, and then she urged the visiting clergy to pray for the state.
“Rivers State issue is one thing I’ve committed to prayer because I believe there is nothing God cannot do,” she said. She then continued: “God restored me and I’ll do His work without the fear of man. The truth will always remain the truth and what God ordains must come to pass and so Rivers issue is something we’ve handed over to God.’’
Mrs. Jonathan alleged that she had always mediated between the governor and other parties in a crisis that she said began four years ago. According to her, “This matter started as far back as four years ago at Anyugubiri in Okrika when I begged him not to demolish a part of Okrika, but [that he should] dialogue first with the people.”
She added: “After that incident, he called the chairman of Okrika (local government) and sacked him for holding a reception in our honor. That boy was the first victim. He also put my people on curfew for nine months. I called him and pleaded with him but he refused. Then I began to hear all sort of propaganda in the media against me. This is not the way.”
Mrs. Jonathan, who also hails from Rivers State, further told the clergy: “I’ve never spoken about this issue, but as men of God, I believe you’ll say the truth always because there are a lot of conflicting interests. Some will hear one thing and say the exact opposite.” In addition, she stated: “I also want you to know the genesis of this problem and pray that God touches Amaechi’s heart as per his hot temper because when two elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers.”
Seeming to adopt a conciliatory tone that is at odds with the violent method unleashed in Rivers State by political elements loyal to her, Mrs. Jonathan said she wanted to “appeal to Amaechi to sheathe his sword so that we can defend our state and this country with love, unity, patriotism and truth at all time.” Then she went biblical: “Hebrews 12:14 urges us to embrace peace with all men without which we cannot see God.”
Mrs. Jonathan added: “Amaechi is my son, I cannot fight him and I cannot kill him. He shouldn’t be used by outsiders against his own blood because this seat is vanity. One day, no matter how long it takes, we will leave this seat. Power is not forever. This seat is vanity, others sat here and left so one day I’ll also leave and we will meet at home. So why should I fight him? Let’s take it easy, face issues, leave non-existent matters, stop magnifying lies and respect our leaders and people in authority. Let’s give peace a chance.”
Prior to Mrs. Jonathan’s speech, the chairman of the leader of the Niger Delta Bishops Forum and leader of the clerical delegation, Bishop God-Do-Well Awomapara, announced that his group was “on a quest to unravel the mysteries surrounding the Rivers issue and mediate where necessary.’’