Former US first lady Barbara Bush died Tuesday at the age of 92, triggering an outpouring of praise for the matriarch of a Republican family once at the apex of American politics.
Barbara and George H.W. Bush were married for 73 years, and the widower “of course is heartbroken to lose his beloved Barbara,” his chief of staff Jean Becker said in a statement.
“He held her hand all day today and was at her side when (she) left this good Earth.”
The ex-president, who is 93 and has been in ill health in recent years, is “determined to be there” for his family while in mourning, Becker added.
Funeral arrangements were due to be announced soon for Barbara Bush, who was also survived by five of her children and their spouses, 17 grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren and her brother, Scott Pierce.
She was preceded in death by her second child, Robin, who died of leukemia as a toddler.
In honor of Bush’s life, President Donald Trump ordered that the US flag be flown at half-staff until sundown on the day she is buried, at all public buildings and grounds, as well as military posts and vessels.
Bush has long been considered the rock at the center of one of America’s most prominent political families, as the wife of a president and the mother to another — George W. Bush — and to Jeb Bush, a former Florida governor and onetime presidential aspirant.
She first met her husband-to-be at the age of 16 when she was a schoolgirl and he was a student at an elite preparatory school in Massachusetts. They married in 1945 while he was on leave from wartime service as a naval officer. The couple had six children.
As first lady, from 1989 to 1993, she embraced the cause of universal literacy and founded a foundation for family literacy.
Tributes poured in from across the political spectrum to honor her life.
Trump hailed her as an “advocate of the American family.”
“Amongst her greatest achievements was recognizing the importance of literacy as a fundamental family value that requires nurturing and protection,” Trump said.
“She will be long remembered for her strong devotion to country and family, both of which she served unfailingly well.”
‘Force of nature’
Her son Jeb wrote: “I’m exceptionally privileged to be the son of George Bush and the exceptionally gracious, gregarious, fun, funny, loving, tough, smart, graceful woman who was the force of nature known as Barbara Bush.”
And his son George P. Bush tweeted: “I will miss you, Ganny —- but know we will see you again.”
“Barbara inspired us all to be the best version of ourselves,” said Orrin Hatch, America’s longest-serving Republican senator.
Trump’s Democratic predecessor Barack Obama and his wife Michelle said: “We’ll always be grateful to Mrs Bush for the generosity she showed to us throughout our time in the White House.”
“But we’re even more grateful for the way she lived her life –- as a testament to the fact that public service is an important and noble calling; as an example of the humility and decency that reflects the very best of the American spirit,” they added.
Madeleine Albright, the first woman to serve as US secretary of state, remembered Bush as a “woman of incredible determination, wit and compassion who embodied America’s best values.”
Bill Clinton, who succeeded her husband in office, added: “Barbara Bush was a remarkable woman. She had grit and grace, brains and beauty.
“She was fierce and feisty in support of her family and friends, her country and her causes. She showed us what an honest, vibrant, full life looks like. Hillary and I mourn her passing and bless her memory.”
Bush gained a reputation for toughness, wry humor and straight-speaking.
“She was smart, generous, kind, & a force to be reckoned with,” said House Republican Steve Pearce.
Asked in 2010 about former Alaska governor Sarah Palin — who sought the vice presidency in 2008 — she told an interviewer: “I sat next to her once, thought she was beautiful, and I think she’s very happy in Alaska, and I hope she’ll stay there.”
Senator John McCain, who is battling cancer and was at the top of the ticket with Palin a decade ago, recalled that “Barbara understood that the greatest joy in life comes from putting the needs of others before yourself.”
Some youth groups in the Niger Delta on Friday took to the streets of Port Harcourt, the capital of Rivers State, to protest what they call a one sided approach in the fight against corruption.
According to them, the ongoing matter involving the former first lady, Patience Jonathan and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over the monies found in her account to the tune of 15 million Dollars, has brought the current campaign.
The head of the EFCC South-south Zone, Ishaq Saliu, said the commission would always be on the side of the law.
The four accounts, lodged with Skye Bank Plc, are in the name of four companies which is said to have a balance of $31.4m
The four companies are Pluto Property and Investment Company Limited; Seagate Property Development & Investment Co. Limited; Trans Ocean Property and Investment Company Limited and Development Company Limited and Globus Integrated Service Limited.
The Wife of the Vice President, Dr Aminat Sambo, has assured Nigerian women in the south-west that political positions for women will be increased from 35 per cent to 45 per cent, should President Goodluck Jonathan be re-elected at the March 28 Presidential polls.
Dr Aminat Sambo gave the assurance in Osogbo, the Osun State capital while addressing the women at the Nelson Mandela freedom park, in continuation of the presidential campaign of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
She asked the women to see themselves as useful tools in the political terrain.
Dr Sambo stressed the need for persons that have not collected their Permanent Voter Cards to do so before the deadline of March 22.
The VP’s wife also urged the people of the state, especially the women, to vote massively for the PDP in all the elections, saying “the PDP is the only party that can deliver good governance”.
She assured the women that re-electing President Jonathan would result in more involvement of women in governance, emphasising that “women play key roles in ensuring good governance”.
As the Super Falconets file out against Germany in the finals of the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Canada on Sunday, Nigeria’s First Lady, Patience Jonathan, is encouraging the team to step up its can-do-spirit by beating its opponent, Germany to win the cup.
The First Lady described the Semi-final encounter with Korea DPR as a sweet victory which should spur the Falconets to beat Germany as a revenge for the 2010 final match which went the way of Germany.
While commending the determination and the patriotic zeal of the Falconets, Patience Jonathan noted that their performance so far in the competition had lent credence to the fact that women can make appreciable impact in the development of the nation.
She, therefore, charged the team to rekindle its hard fighting spirit and work harder to bring the 2014 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup to Nigeria.
The First Lady congratulates the team’s top scorer, Aisha Oshoala, for her brilliant performance especially during the 6-2 defeat of Korea DPR.
Patience Jonathan celebrates members of the team and their handlers, urging them to remain focused, determined and committed.
The Nigerian First lady, Mrs Patience Jonathan, has denied any links to a young man who allegedly died in Agura Hotel, Abuja.
A statement by the Media Assistant at the Office of the First Lady, Ayo Adewuyi, on Wednesday read:
“Our attention has been drawn to media reports linking one Christopher Awai who allegedly drowned in the swimming pool of Agura Hotel, Abuja to the First Lady, Patience Jonathan.
“This is to clearly state that the said Christopher Awai has no link whatsoever with the First Lady and as such, he is not a nephew of the First Lady.
“We also wish to state without any iota of equivocation that Madam Esther Ebiere Gbonkumor, who was mentioned in the news reports as the immediate ‘younger sister’ of the First Lady is not in any way related to Dame (Dr) Patience Faka Jonathan.
“Madam Gbonkumor was said to have petitioned the Inspector-General of Police on behalf of the family “demanding a full corona inquest into Awai’s death.”
The Office of the First Lady maintained that it is an unfounded rumour which the First Lady knows nothing about and urged the public and well-meaning Nigerians to note this for the purpose of accurate record and common good.
The Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan, will fly to Pretoria, South Africa on Friday for high-level discussions with other African Heads of State and Government on combating terrorism in Africa.
This is according to a statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Media & Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati.
The continent’s five regions would each be represented by two heads of state and government at the talks which would focus on collective action to effectively roll-back the scourge of terrorism in Africa.
Others expected at the talks which would take place ahead of South African President, Jacob Zuma’s inauguration for a new term in office, include the leaders of Ghana, Republic of Congo, Chad, Angola, Rwanda, South Africa, Mauritania, Algeria and Ethiopia.
President Jonathan, who would be accompanied by the First Lady, Patience Jonathan, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Aminu Wali and some key aides, would return to Abuja after attending President Zuma inauguration on Saturday.
Nigeria’s ambassador to the Holy See, Dr Francis Okeke, has said that the President’s scheduled visit to the Vatican is important to the nation.
In an interview with Channels Television, Dr Okeke disclosed that all was set for President Goodluck Jonathan’s visit to the Holy See otherwise known as the Vatican City.
He also mentioned that apart from the meeting with the Pope, the visit is an attempt to reestablish contact with the Holy See authorities because they have an important part to play in Nigeria’s affairs.
He recalled that the Christian religion brought education to Nigeria over one hundred years ago, and the Holy See plays an important part with other Christian religions in supporting education in Nigeria.
“Besides, the President would like to take this opportunity to do a pilgrimage for himself and the people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”, he said.
The statement read, “The President, accompanied by the First lady, Dame Patience Jonathan will leave Abuja for Windhoek early on Thursday for a two-day state visit to Namibia in the course of which he will participate in a business forum aimed at boosting trade and economic relations between Nigeria and Namibia.
“President Jonathan will also attend the celebration of Namibia’s 24th Independence Anniversary as a Special Guest of Honour on Friday before departing for Rome and the Vatican for talks on Saturday, March 22, 2014 with Pope Francis and Monsignor Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s Secretary of State.”.
Public affairs analyst, Achike Chude, has said that the long absence of Taraba’s Governor Danbaba Suntai from office, without redress, is evidence of loopholes in the Nigerian constitution as the governor is the one voted to rule and not an ‘acting governor’.
Although, the constitution has made provisions that the deputy governor take over as ‘acting governor’ when the governor is indisposed, Mr Chude argues that “the people who voted for the governor, voted for the governor, they didn’t vote for the acting governor to be governor”.
This he said while reacting to the news of Governor Suntai’s expected return to office after a plane accident which took place in October 2012.
Using former First Lady, Turai Yar’adua, as an example, he highlighted that there was a failure to learn from history whereby “a few people who do not have any legal basis for directing the affairs of state” hold government and the people to ransom.
“That was not resolved right” because the people involved in the various acts were never called to book.
The culture of impunity may be at play in Taraba state even though “it was unfortunate that the governor had an accident. Unfortunate that he was injured” but this is about “a few people who are in power, who have availed themselves with all the trappings of power in a most undemocratic manner.
They do that through subterfuge, intrigue, outright manipulation of the system, corruption, intimidation, and sometimes outright threats against political opponents and at the end of the day, the whole state lie in comatose”.
Arguing that such long absence from office is unacceptable, he said the constitution doesn’t provide adequate instructions on the proper steps to take in such situations.
He also attributed the citizens’ silence regarding the matter to ‘the complacency and docility of the people,” adding that, the ignorance and illiteracy of the people is to be blamed.
He said “all of these things have a role to play when you are talking about effective administration of a people.”
“Our people have been so much marginalised… so they have surrendered their mandate to a few people who has taken it upon themselves to determine the direction of their state”.
The First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan, has attributed the outstanding performance of the Federal Government in various sectors of the economy to the input of women in the cabinet. Mrs Jonathan said this in a short remark at a dinner organised for women in commemoration of this year’s Democracy Day in Abuja.
She commended them for making Nigerian women proud in the mid-term report released on Thursday by the Presidency on the first half of the administration’s four-year tenure.
“Two days ago, the President read his mid-term report to Nigerians. He and his team have done very well. Women are the powerful people in that cabinet.”
She singled out the Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, for her efforts to reposition the nation’s economy and the Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah, for the facelift in several of the nation’s airports.
While noting that women were well represented in governance, the first lady thanked President Goodluck Jonathan for giving Nigerian women the opportunity to prove themselves.
“We thank God and Mr President for giving women a chance. Since independence, this is the first time women can walk tall and talk where men are talking.
“So, we thank this administration. We will continue to support this administration and make it succeed,’’
The President’s wife urged women to take up the challenge of bringing peace back to the country.
“On the issue of security, women are more affected. The soldiers being killed are our children, members of Boko haram are our children, and the militants are our children.
“Let us, as women, urge them to shun evil behaviours and desist from anything that can bring the country down. We should be proud of our country.
“We should preach peace and be peaceful in our homes, local governments, states and the country. Our watchword should be peace. We should move from door to door to preach peace.
“Without peace, there will be no development and we need development. Women are saying enough is enough. We don’t want our children to die again.’’
Other dignitaries at the occasion were the former First Lady, Ajoke Muhammed, the wife of the governor of Anambra, Margret Obi; Majority Leader, House of Representatives, Mulikat Adeola-Akande and wife of the PDP National Chairman, Fatima Tukur.
Others were the PDP National Women Leader, Kema Chikwe; female members of the Federal Executive Council, female presidential aides, female lawmakers and wives of service chiefs, among others.
The wife of the Nigerian President, Dame Patience Jonathan has arrived the country after being away for about two months.
Mrs Jonathan denied having been hospitalised in Germany.
The First Lady was speaking on her arrival in the country after being away for two months, insisted that there was no truth in the rumour that she was undergoing treatment for an ailment.
Addressing journalists at the airport, the First Lady debunked the rumour about her illness or admission at a German Hospital as she made reference to talks about deaths that has preceded the Jonathan administration in the presidential villa.
“Those that are saying that anybody that goes to Villa (Aso Villa), that person will die, they mention Abacha, they mention Stella Obasanjo…They even wrote some numbers …I don’t even know that hospital they are talking about…I do not have any terminal illness or cosmetic surgery,” she said.
The aircraft conveying the first lady landed at the presidential wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe international airport, Abuja at 3.45 pm, Wednesday evening.
Hundreds of women and members of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) were at the airport to welcome the first lady back home.
Mrs Jonathan had travelled out of the country for treatment of an undisclosed illness in Germany about two months ago and series of questions have been raised by civil society and some opposition parties, seeking to know the where about of the president’s wife.
However, while the saga was on, the president reportedly visited his wife in Germany. The Nigeria Television Authority (NTA) had broadcasted a short video clip showing a smiling Mrs Jonathan receiving her family in Germany.
Watch video of Patience Jonathan’s arrival.
Transcript of Mrs Jonathan’s interview
It is wonderful, first of all seven million people, that show you that wherever there are good ones there must always be a bad one.
But amongst the Nigerians, there are only those few that I feel that they might be talking what they feel, not what God has planned.
Because God has a plan for all of us and God has said it all that when two or three are gathered in His name, that He will be in their midst and Nigerians has gathered and prayed for me and God is there and answered.
And I thank God for that, but the same time, I will use this opportunity to tell those few ones that are saying em’ anybody that goes to the villa or Aso Rock that the person will die.
They mention Abacha, they mentioned Stella Obasanjo, they mentioned Yar’dua and other people but those people why didn’t they mention those ones that went there with their families and succeeded but they still come out alive and God save them, we should remember that Aso Rock is the seat of power.