Sunday, February 28, 2021 3:00 pm
By Dons Eze
Former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan appears now to be in a very big dilemma. The dilemma is whether he should go for the Presidency of Nigeria in 2023, or not. If he is to go, on which political party platform will he contest?
Dr. Goodluck Jonathan has suddenly become the toast of the people and the most sought after politician in our country today. As they say in our clime, if a damsel married two husbands, she would be able to say which one is better. Nigerians have experienced the regime of Goodluck Jonathan, and they are now experiencing the regime of Muhammadu Buhari.
In 2015, Goodluck Jonathan was said to be clueless, inefficient, corrupt, and called all sorts of derogatory names. He was booed, stoned, and walked at, during his own political party’s convention. They even carried his coffin.
Jonathan who assembled a first-class team Nigeria could offer to outside world, men and women of honour and integrity, people like Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, now Director General, World Trade Organization; Akinwunmi Adesina, now President, African Development Bank; Olenma Otteh, presently of the World Bank, etc., not hypocrites and liars, to help drive his programmes, was constantly derided for non-performance.
But today, everything has changed. Goodluck Jonathan has become a new person. He has become the darling of the people, and a beautiful bride. He is said to be gentle, humble, humane, detribalised, and respecter of human rights and the rule of law. People now look back with nostalgia at his regime, and see it as a lost Paradise.
Even President Muhammadu Buhari who fought Jonathan to submission, is now courting his friendship. He has made him Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, and the former President has been shuttling on diplomatic missions across the length and breadth of the African continent.
Governors on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC), who usually had been on the neck of Goodluck Jonathan, villifying him, recently visited him, while the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), fearing that the man was slipping out from their hands, quickly sought to have a tete-a-tete with the former President.
For sometime now, there have been speculations that some powerful people in the country were plotting to draft Goodluck Jonathan to the Presidential race in 2023, while Jonathan himself had neither affirmed, nor denied whether or not he would run.
One of his friends was however reported to have said that Jonathan was “consulting”, and would “make a bold decision very soon on whether or not he will listen to the agitations of Nigerians who are yearning for his return”.
Another question on the lips of many people is, if after “consulting” and Jonathan decides to contest the 2023 Presidential election, on which political party platform will he be running?
Jonathan started his political journey with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), on which platform he was elected Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State in 1999, and State Governor thereafter. He was also elected Vice President of Nigeria on the same political party platform in 2007, and President of Nigeria in 2011.
But there are reported claims that Jonathan and the PDP no longer enjoy warm relationships, particularly after his failed reelection bid in 2015. The former President was reported to have complained that his party had virtually abandoned him, and did not give him any role to play.
In his home state of Bayelsa, it is equally claimed that the relationship between Jonathan and the PDP was far from cordial, which had resulted to many of his supporters pitching tent with the candidate of the APC during the last off season governorship election held in the State.
Again, said the former President’s friend: “I don’t know if he will join the APC. The ultimate decision is his. But as one of his close political associates, I won’t be surprised if he joins. There are two major political parties in Nigeria presently, APC and PDP, and if your interest is not met in one, you have constitutional right to move to another.
“No PDP member swears any oath to be a lifetime member of the party. That was why we have seen former national chairmen of the party such as Barnabas Gemade, Audu Ogbeh and Kawu Baraje left to join the APC. So, what is the big deal if a former president switches political party?”
He explained that Jonathan’s decision to contest would be based on two factors. One, which political party is ready to give him maximum support in getting the ticket, and second, what is the party’s chances in winning the presidential election.
“If he will contest, it will be based on which political party will brighten his chances of getting the ticket. I don’t think that he has the financial war chest to contest presidential primary. I am sure that he will not be asking to be the sole aspirant, but even if there are 20 aspirants, there are ways things will be easier for you if they really wanted you.
“The second is which political party has acceptability among Nigerians and has a higher chance of winning the election. Like I said, I don’t know if he will contest, but I believe he will take a definite position in the coming days”, he said.
It is claimed that the plot to return Jonathan to power in 2023 was being spearheaded by some northern politicians, who were not comfortable with political power shifting to the South in 2023, after the North might have held it for eight years. They saw Jonathan as a safe berth, since constitutionally, the man can only serve one term of four years, having already served the first term of four years.
Second, Jonathan does not come from the two major ethnic groups in the South, the Igbo and the Yoruba, who apparently are in competition with the Hausa/Fulani power mongers in the North.
Again, Jonathan is perceived not to be a hawk, but a gentleman, who would hardly kill a fly, nor rock a boat. Therefore, if political power must necessarily return to the South in 2023, the North would prefer it to be in the hands of this harmless dove from Bayelsa State.
Many Nigerians, however, do not fancy the idea of Goodluck Jonathan returning to the murky waters of politics in 2023. They said that since Jonathan had made a good name when he accepted defeat in the 2015 Presidential election, which has placed him on a higher pedestal, not only in Nigeria, but throughout Africa, he should not mess up that good name by trying to come back to party politics. Rather, he should continue to play the role of a statesman, which will give him more honour and respect.
Second, the game of politics is unpredictable. What if Jonathan seeks to contest and is defeated, wouldn’t that be a humiliation and the final nailing of his good name? So, it is better that the man sits back to enjoy himself, and not allow some selfish politicians to spoil the good name he already made for himself.
Perhaps, those who are rooting for Jonathan’s return in 2023, may be thinking of what happened in 1999, when the Nigerian military brought out General Olusegun Obassnjo, a former military Head of State, from prison, and imposed him on Nigerians as President. But Nigeria in 1999 was not as complex, and as ethnically, religiously and politically divided, as Nigeria in 2023, while the ruling political elites today are not as strong and united as the ruling military in 1999.
Moreover, there are over two hundred million Nigerians, yet we keep on recycling old people, with old ideas. We brought out General Olusegun Obassnjo from retirement, and made him President in 1999. We brought out General Muhammadu Buhari from retirement, and made him President in 2015. We are now planning to bring out Dr. Goodluck Jonathan from retirement, to make him President in 2023. Haba! That is why Nigeria is not making progress. Let us try new people with new ideas.
Dr. Dons Eze, KSJI