After May 29, President Goodluck Jonathan will leave the Aso Villa and reportedly will relocate to his Otuoke house in Bayelsa state where he is expected to retire.
According to the The Punch, the estate sprawls over a large expanse of land contrasting sharply with its rustic surroundings. It is said to belong to President Jonathan. Otuoke, Jonathan’s home town, is a small island community in the Ogbia local government area of Bayelsa state.
On the long road to the gates, soldiers and members of other security agencies, apparently on sentry duty, walked on the grounds. The overall air suggested guarded and protected serenity.
Behind the gates, shoving their heads above the walls are no fewer than eight different structures apparently for different purposes: recreation, security posts and guard quarters. A visitor to Otuoke will not be penalised for calling the place a fortress.
According to a source, there has been activity for a couple of weeks. And it is widely believed that come May 29, after the expiration of his tenure, President Jonathan will relocate to the place.
As if the president had the premonition that he would not live in Aso Rock beyond 2015, he was reported to have begun acquiring properties adjacent his sprawling country home by late 2013.
It is understood that the president acquired properties over an area which runs to about seven acres of Otuoba around his mansion which had been there earlier.
The place was thereafter expanded to encase the mansion while new structures were erected around it.
It was also reported that adequate compensation was paid to the owners of these properties to enable them relocate elsewhere.
Moreover, Jonathan after acquiring those buildings in 2013, reportedly engaged the services of a construction company, Jiito, to expand the estate to accommodate his new acquisition.
Today, Jonathan’s mini–estate, which overlooks a creek that links Otuoke to other coastal communities of Bayelsa, is a cynosure of all eyes.
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A visit to Otuoke on Thursday showed that Jonathan’s mansions, which had been undergoing construction and reconstruction over the last 10 years, are now ready for habitation. The area they sit on is best described as an island.
It was learnt that before now, each time the president visited Otuoke, he usually slept in his wife’s (Patience) castle which is directly opposite the Federal University in Otuoke.
It was also learnt that the Jonathans own the choicest properties in Otuoke. The president was said to have built a two-storey building each for his mother and father opposite his own.
His wife, Dame Patience, besides owning a hotel, is also said to have numerous buildings that have been converted into hostels for FUO female students.
On the readiness of the Jonathans to return to Otuoke, one of the military personnel guarding the buildings said all the mansions in the estate were ready except one.
The soldier, who declined to give his name, said the contractors were fixing air conditioners and window blinds on the last mansion. “I can tell you that the houses are ready. Everything is in order. It remains only one building where the contractors are putting window blinds, curtains and air conditioners,” the security operative said.
“I overheard some of the workers saying that they had been instructed to finish the last building before the second week of May. I think it is because the President is returning home.
“As of now, no domestic staff or relatives are living here. All his relatives have their homes. It is only military men and policemen that are living in some of the buildings. Even at that, many buildings are left unoccupied because the buildings are so massive and it will take a community to occupy them,” he added.
The soldier, who said he had been living at the place for the past four years, claimed some of the president’s domestic staff were in his Kpansia, Yenagoa mansion, which he built while he was Deputy Governor of Bayelsa.
The soldier said that apart from the mansions at Otuoke, Jonathan and his family members have numerous buildings at Okaka Estate, off Isaac Boro Expressway in Yenagoa.
Many residents of Otuoke are indeed longing to see President Jonathan, one of their illustrious sons, return home.
For them, Jonathan has made Otuoke, once a relatively unknown place, known to people outside it and turned it into a city to be reckoned with.
A resident, Prere Goodthinking, said though President Jonathan lost his re-election bid, he is God-sent, not only to Bayelsa people but to the entire country.
Prere said: “Whether people like it or not, Jonathan can best be described as an icon of Nigeria’s democracy. He is a man of peace, a gentleman and a great statesman.
“He has proved to the whole world that he is not a power-monger. He has shown the world that his ambition is not worth the blood of any Nigerian. We want other leaders to emulate him. We are going to celebrate his return and I hope Nigerians and the world will also celebrate our illustrious son.”
Another resident, who gave his name only as Ebilari, said Jonathan had put Otuoke on the world map for good reasons.
She said: “About 12 years ago, Otuoke was a jungle. Most houses there were decrepit. But today, you can see that the place that was once a hamlet has become a wonderful city.
“Buildings are springing up everywhere. Life has become more meaningful for the people. Before you mention three prominent places in Bayelsa, Otuoke must come up. Thus, we are proud of our son Jonathan. We are waiting enthusiastically to receive him after his national assignment on May 29.”