President Goodluck Jonathan will leave Abuja on Monday evening to South Africa to pay last respect to late anti-apartheid fighter and former South African President, Nelson Mandela.
According to a statement issued by the President’s special adviser on media and publicity, Reuben Abati, Jonathan will attend the memorial service for Mandela on Tuesday at the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg and on Wednesday be present at the Union Building, Pretoria, for the lying in state.
The President would depart Pretoria on Wednesday at the end of the event to honour a long-standing invitation to be a guest of honour at Kenya’s 50th Independence Anniversary celebration, in Nairobi.
He will be accompanied on the visit by the supervising minister of foreign affairs, Viola Onwuliri, and is expected to return to Abuja on Thursday.
Meanwhile, prayers of remembrance have been held across South Africa for Mandela.
South African President Jacob Zuma, Mandel’s fomer wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, a large number of family members, Mandela’s grandson, Mandla, dignitaries and friends attended church service at the Bryanston Methodist Church in Johannesburg.
Speaking to the congregation, President Zuma urged South Africans to unite around the ideals Mandela espoused.
Zuma said Mandela preached and practiced peace and reconciliation to make those who had been fighting to forgive one another and become one nation.
In Mvezo, Eastern Cape, where Mandela was born, villagers and well wishers attended prayers service wearing the African National Congress T- shirts.
“Though the village is sad, they are grateful for the changes the that the anti apartheid icon’s freedom had brought to them,’’ one of Madiba’s great grandson, Mayibuye Mandela said.
Mandela died on Thursday evening at his Houghton home in Johannesburg after a long illness. He was 95 years old.
His remains will be laid to rest next Sunday, at his home village of Qunu in the Eastern Cape.