A plane with President Goodluck Jonathan has reportedly left Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, several hours before the Nigerian leader was scheduled to depart to New York to attend this year’s United Nations General Assembly. SaharaReporters learnt that the secretive maneuver meant that the president was most likely headed for Germany to see his ailing wife.
“There has been a great measure of secrecy surrounding the president’s departure,” said a source close to the Presidency. “I believe that Mr. President will stop over in Germany to see the First Lady before arriving in New York.”
Mrs. Patience Jonathan is spending her fourth week in a hospital in Wiesbaden, Germany.
A Saharareporters source in Germany disclosed that German authorities cleared a Nigerian presidential jet to travel last night out of Abuja.
Earlier today, the Presidency issued a statement to the effect that Mr. Jonathan would head for New York accompanied by a delegation of several Nigerian officials including state governors and presidential aides. SaharaReporters had earlier reported that the governors of Bauchi and Akwa Ibom are included on Mr. Jonathan’s delegation.
A source in Abuja told our correspondent that presidential aide Oronto Douglas and Governor Gabriel Suswam of Benue State were recently added to the delegation.
SaharaReporters had also disclosed that German doctors ruled out the prospect of Mrs. Jonathan making the trip to New York. “Once the president heard that the First Lady cannot make it to New York, he began to plan how to make a secret trip to Germany to her,” said a source in Abuja.
In a bid to deflect attention from his stopover in Germany, Mr. Jonathan decided to travel to New York in two separate jets. The first plane, which is being used as a decoy, was to take the president to Germany on a secret mission to see his wife while the second jet will leave Nigeria and head straight to New York sometime tomorrow.
A source at the Presidency disclosed that it was unusual for the president to travel with two presidential jets. The only exceptions were when the First Lady insisted on traveling with a separate delegation, a major source of waste in the Presidency.
President Jonathan frequently travels either on a Boeing 737-7N6 business jet with tail number 5N-FGT or a newer jet, a Gulfstream G550 with tail number 5N-FGW. The Gulfstream was bought in April 2011.