Outgoing President Goodluck Jonathan has asked for forgiveness from Nigerians hurt directly or indirectly by his actions during his tenure as Vice- President, acting President and President.
He explained to worshippers at a farewell service organised in his honour at the Aso Villa Chapel in Abuja on Sunday, that those actions were not deliberately done.
Jonathan pointed out that there were times one would take a decision in the best interest of all but friends and associates might not understand why.
The President said, “Nothing is perfect; if you wait for perfection, you cannot achieve anything. No system is perfect. Every human system has an element of imperfection.
“So, for the eight years that I have been here as Vice-President, acting President and President, I can say that no one is perfect.
“We have done certain things that probably we shouldn’t have done, but we didn’t do them deliberately.
“So, for those that we offended, it was not deliberate; it was as a result of the exigencies of the office.
“We plead that such people should forgive us; I think we have done our best. You may do your own best and your friends and associates may misunderstand you.”
Jonathan thanked God and those who stood by him and his family in the last eight years, saying he had every reason to be thankful.
While admitting that public office holders have different roles, the President said no head of government, be it at the national or sub- regional levels, could do everything.
He however said it was normal for office holders to set and achieve targets so that their tenure would be remembered.
Jonathan recalled that when he was the governor of Bayelsa State, his target was to construct two bridges in the state annually.
But he said that that dream was cut short when he was nominated as the vice presidential candidate of the then Peoples Democratic Party’s candidate, Umaru Yar’Adua (late).
The President said although he was leaving as President and his wife as the First Lady, they would not leave members of the Aso Rock Chapel who were relentless in praying for them.
Jonathan added, “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 but I believe that as we move forward, things will get better.
“I don’t believe that it is only in government that one can do things; outside it (government), you can do a lot.
“The richest people in the world don’t even serve in government. (Aliko) Dangote has never been in government, yet he is doing so much.
“Bill Gates too has never been in government, yet he is the richest man in the world. So outside government, a lot of things happen; It is for us to be committed and be focused.
Joyful atmosphere pervaded the chapel during the service which was the last time Jonathan and his family would be worshipping there (chapel) before May 29.
There will not be service at the chapel on May 24 because of an interdenominational service to commemorate the nation’s Democracy Day at the National Christian Centre, Abuja.
Colourfully-dressed chapel members, friends and associates of Jonathan and his family as well as top government officials turned out en masse to wish them well.
The chapel committee and the children presented gifts to Jonathan, his wife, Patience, and his mother, Eunice.
The President later led his family members to dance at the altar for a special thanksgiving to express gratitude to God for being with them in the last five years.
The President’s Chaplain, Ven. Obioma Onwuzurumba, in a short message titled, “To God be the Glory” thanked God for keeping the Jonathan family safe throughout their stay in the Presidential Villa.
Mrs. Jonathan read the first lesson of the service from Numbers 6:22-27 while the Executive Secretary, Nigerian Christian Pilgrims Commission, John Kennedy-Okpara, read the second lesson from 2 Chorinthians 13:11-14.
The service featured special presentation by the children, presentation by the chapel committee and special prayers for the nation.
A five-year-old girl, Juliet Ishola of the children church, stole the show with a memory verse taken from 1 Timothy 6: 6-7.
She got a standing ovation from the congregation when after reading the verse, she turned to Jonathan and said, “For emphasis, I will take verse 7 of I Timothy chapter 6 again which says “For we brought nothing into this world and it is certain we will not take anything away.”
Juliet went on to tell the President, “You seem to understand this verse more than all of us by your reaction to the results of the 2015 presidential election.
“God bless you sir for allowing peace to reign in the country.”
Osinbajo fails to take over chapel
However, the expectation that Jonathan would formally hand over the chapel to the Vice President-elect, Yemi Osinbajo, on Sunday did not materialise.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo was said to have handed over the worship centre to Jonathan as the Vice President since the then President-elect(Yar’Adua) was a Muslim.
The same process would have taken place on Sunday but for Osinbajo’s absence.
Onwuzurumba later confirmed to State House correspondents that the handover process was part of the programme packaged for the day.
He said it could not be done because the President-elect did not attend the service in person.
“We actually invited the President-elect for the handing over of the chapel but for one reason or the other, he was absent.
“But he was represented in the service by a regional pastor of the Redeemed Christian Church of God. The handover will be done later.”
Pastor Emmanuel Ibitaye from the RCCG was one of the guests recognised during the service but he was not introduced as Osinbajo’s representative.
Among the prominent persons who attended the service were Peter Obi, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, members of the National Assembly, members of the Federal Executive Council as well as heads of government agencies and parastatals.