President Jonathan yesterday took advantage of his last worship at Aso Villa Chapel to apologise to whoever he or any member of his family may have offended in the course of his tenure in office.
The President, who thanked God and Nigerians for the privilege of serving the country, admitted that there were certain things he and others around him could have done differently.
He, however, noted that some of those decisions which might have angered some people, were taken due to what he called the circumstances of office.
Jonathan told the worshippers that he would always be available to serve humanity in any capacity, saying “one doesn’t necessarily need to be in government before he can serve.”
He said: “Let me express our appreciation to all those who have stood by us. We came in as Vice President and I am leaving with my wife as the former President and former First Lady. We have achieved this through you. Let me specifically thank the chaplain, the clergymen, the pastors and their wives.
“For the past eight years, we have every reason to be thankful to God. Every individual has his/ calling. I also believe that people who take over political leadership have their callings to do specific things. No one, head of a government, be it at the national level or the sub-regional level can do everything. But when you leave, you will want to do something to show that yes I was here. I remember when I was deputy governor of Bayelsa State, when I took over as governor, something that came to my mind was that I wanted to build bridges; that Bayelsa was more riverine than Rivers State and I decided that I was going to build two major bridges yearly. Everybody has something to leave behind. The chaplain has said that nothing is perfect, if you wait for perfection, you cannot achieve anything,” he said.
Jonathan continued: “No system is perfect. Every human system must have an element of imperfection. For the period of eight years that we have been here…. Because my transition from VP to President was gradual and complicated. It was intertwined so you cannot actually draw the line. Because when the President was challenged with major health issues, I was running the country for sometime even before the doctrine of necessity made me Acting President, then I took over at first and conducted the 2011 elections which we won and I had to run my full four years as an elected President. So for the eight years that one has been here, definitely one is not perfect. We have done certain things that probably we wouldn’t have done that way, but we didn’t do them deliberately. So for those we have offended, it was not deliberate, it was the circumstances of the office. So we also plead that those people should forgive, we think we have done our best.
“You can do your best and your friends may misunderstand you. Today (yesterday) we are talking about leaving. It is only God that knows why things go the way they do. Ordinarily, May 24 would have been the last service here. But on that day, we will go to the National Christian Centre for the inauguration service. So for me and my wife, this is our last day of worship here. The congregation will continue until the new government takes over.
“Though we are leaving as President and First Lady, but we have not left you, because we are still in this country; we will continue to interact one way or the other, probably along the line we may even come closer. I believe some of you may even come closer, and even do more meaningful things together when we leave office. The office is quite challenging, some of you may desire to see us, I believe as we move forward, things will get better. I don’t really believe that it is only in government that you can do things; even outside government you can do a lot of things. The richest people in the world don’t even serve in government. Dangote has never been in government, so you don’t need to be in government to be rich. Bill Gates has not been in government. So outside government a lot of things happen, it is for us to be committed and remained focus. My wife and I really love all of you,” the President said.
The church service was supposed to feature the formal handing over of the Villa Chapel to Vice President-elect, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, which did not hold because Osinbajo was absent. The Villa Chaplain, Obioma Owuzurumba, however confirmed that he sent a representative to him.
Jonathan moves out of main Presidential residence
As renovation reached advanced stage in the official residence of Nigeria’s First Family ahead of the handover of power to President-elect, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari on May 29, President Goodluck Jonathan has moved out of his main Presidential quarters in the State House, Abuja.
The First Family at present lives in a smaller building located within the State House called “Glass House” while most of their belongings have been moved to Otuoke, the President’s hometown in Bayelsa State.
Painting, repainting, change of flowers and furniture are going on in the residence while the workers are expected to wait till Gen Buhari resumes work on May 29 before putting the fittings and furniture in his office.
As part of the transition programme, a Juma’at service is expected to hold at the National Mosque on May 22 while an interdenominational church service is slated for the National Ecumenical Centre, Abuja on May 24.
President Jonathan is scheduled to conduct Buhari and Vice President-elect, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo round the State House on Thursday, May 28.
A dinner and handing over of notes to Buhari will take place on the same day while the inauguration of the new President takes place at Eagles Square on Friday, May 29.