For a very long time now, there have been intense speculations that ex-President Goodluck Jonathan is under immense pressure to contest the 2023 presidential election on the platform of the very party that kicked him out of office in 2015, the All Progressive Congress, APC. Most Nigerians thought that it was a huge joke. This was because he came to power in 2011 on the ticket of the current main opposition political party, the People Democratic Party, PDP. It was, therefore, generally believed that he would never contemplate leaving a party that made him deputy governor, governor, vice president and president. Moreover, it was inconceivable that he would ever think of crossing over to APC, which thoroughly destroyed his reputation and rubbished his achievements in order to push him out of office in 2015. To say the least, he was roundly disgraced and humiliated. He was consequently given the ignominious name of: “a clueless president.”
His only saving grace was that he ‘magnanimously’ accepted defeat and handed over power to his successor, President Muhammadu Buhari, peacefully. That probably explains the relatively cordial relationship between the two of them since 2015.
That notwithstanding, there has been no concrete proof that the former president has officially joined APC, let alone using it as a platform to return to power in 2023.
But the events of the last one week seem to have proven all that to the contrary. Mid week, his posters for president on the platform of APC flooded Abuja, particularly at the party’s Secretariat at Blantyre Street, Wuse 2. Just about the same time, his reliable and cerebral former spokesman, Dr Reuben Abuti, was reported to have posted on his verified Facebook page that “Ex President Goodluck Jonathan has accepted to join the APC to pursue his presidential ambition.”
In a swift reaction, another consistent and dependable former media aide of the Ex-president, Reno Omokri, debunked the report. He said his former boss never authorised Abati to push out that statement. “At best it is a figment of the imagination of the famous journalist,” he added. The question is: who do we now believe?
As this claim and counterclaim were going on between the two former aides, who are still very close to their former boss, various groups started besieging Jonathan’s office in Maitama, Abuja, to persuade him to run for the Presidency in 2023.
Last Friday, precisely a day after his posters flooded Abuja, a group by the name, Youth Compatriots of Nigeria, YCN, filled five big buses with youths and women, and stormed his office. The Coalition of Northern Youths, were part of the demonstrators. They were chanting: “Run Goodluck Run”. They also carried placards with inscriptions such as: “Declare now, Goodluck, you must run”; “Jonathan, please run” among others.
The group leader, Mayor Samuel said that “Jonathan has been tested and proven to be very capable, hence Nigerians want him back.”
Later on, the former president invited their leaders in. He thanked them. He told them that he wasn’t sure whether he would run. He, however, asked them to “watch out.” To “watch out” is certainly pregnant with meaning.
Two days earlier, another group called Citizens Network For Peace and Development, CNDP, also besieged his office to urge him to run on the platform of the APC. It specifically said that Jonathan “is the best man for the job”. It went further to issue a veiled threat that “anything short of Jonathan’s ticket, will cost APC 2023 Presidency”.
It will be difficult to absolve Jonathan and his staunch supporters from surreptitiously having a hand in the unusual upsurge in the call for him to run on the ticket of the APC. His supporters are saying that he would only come out openly if President Buhari promises him an automatic ticket. This is certainly day dreaming. Only last week, during the meeting of APC’s National Executive Council, NEC, Buhari warned the party against the imposition of candidates. So, he will never do such a thing, brazenly. Moreover, other heavy weights of the party like its national leader, Jagaban Bola Tinubu and the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, among others, who are already presidential aspirants will resist any imposition of a “stranger” with the last drop of their blood. Indeed, virtually all the APC’s faithful will reject it outright.
Even top influencers like Ohanaeze and Afenifere, the all- embracing umbrella groups of the Igbos and Yoruba respectively, have cautioned Jonathan. They warned that he should not allow himself to be lured into APC; that the consequences would be devastating for him and his loyalists.
I think that for some years now, Jonathan and his wife, Patience, have been sleeping well after the nightmarish experience they went through immediately they left office. Any attempt for him to stage a come back will make his numerous critics dig up all the heart-rending allegations against his administration, which made life unbearable for him, his family and supporters.
He will be reminded that, during his administration, the country lost a whopping $32 billion, which was 16 percent of our total Gross Domestic Products, GDP, to corruption. He will be reminded that he illegally withdrew $20 billion from the NNPC account in the Central Bank to oil his political machine. He will be reminded that Boko Haram captured a very large territory, as big as Belgium, hosted their flag and named it Islamic Caliphate. He will be reminded of the billion of naira meant to equip our military, but was loaded into a private plane and flown to a neighbouring country. He will be told that under his watch, 276 girls of Chibok secondary school were kidnapped and his indelible response came from the crocodile tears from his wife of: “there is God ooo”. He will also be reminded of the Dasuki’s uncommon corruption escapes, which should make the Guinness Book of Records. And of course, they won’t forget to remind him of his wife’s stealing of huge public funds, plus much more.
Ex-president Jonathan should, therefore, not be deceived by the sycophants who are luring him into a deadly trap. He will do himself a lot of good if he ignores all those clamouring for his return to power on the deceptive ground that he was a better president than Buhari. He should beware of the Ides of March.
Chief Araka is the Chairman, Editorial Board of The Trumpet