Zebulun Ogueri canvasses the need for the former president to contest the 2023 Presidency

It is increasingly becoming clearer by the day that as far as 2023 presidential election goes, former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has no hiding place. This is as a result of growing calls from different strata of the country beckoning on him to contest Nigeria’s make or mar presidential election next year.

Since Nigeria rejoined the comity of democratic nations in 1999, presidential election has been an extremely sensitive issue. It has overtime become the most powerful and influential position that confers the greatest sense of belonging to the federation on any ethnic or geopolitical area that produces the president.

As a result of this, at every general election, every segment of the country craves to have a piece of the “national cake” by producing the number one person.

The questions now therefore are: which region has produced more presidents or heads of state? Which region has not produced any, considering the issue of rotational power in order to correct the vexed issue of imbalance among the six geopolitical zones, especially the North – South power block? Under the present circumstance, whose turn is it between the North and South power block in 2023? 

Already, this has started generating heat among the gladiators as the nation gradually and stealthily moves closer to 2023 and as the momentum has continued to build up.   

It is important to underscore one basic fact that one major factor that will largely determine the overall outcome of the election is power rotation, which is between the North and South political blocs. This is what has defined the attitude and the internal democratic practices of the major political parties that will participate in the forthcoming election.

It has equally attracted some of the biggest political groups such as the Progressive Governors Forum (PGF) made up of governors on the platform of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Governors Forum, which is made up of the governors of the leading opposition party, caucuses of political parties at the two chambers of the National Assembly, the political parties, socio-cultural groups, among others.

It is imperative to put the record straight on this matter. Since independence, the North has produced Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa as the prime minister, Generals Yakubu Gowon, Murtala Muhammed, President Shehu Shagari, Generals Muhammadu Buhari, Ibrahim Babangida, Sani Abacha, Abdulsalami Abubakar, late President Yar’Adua and the current President Buhari. On the other hand, the South has produced Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe (South-East as Colonial Governor-General and Head of State under the parliamentary system of government), General Aguiyi-Ironsi (South-East), General Olusegun Obasanjo (South-West), President Obasanjo (South-West) and President Goodluck Jonathan (South-South) who served one tenure plus.

Beginning from 1999 when the country began a new democratic dispensation, the South took the first shot through Obasanjo who handed over power to the North (Yar’Adua). Yar’Adua did not finish his tenure and GEJ completed the joint-ticket tenure and did a first term and was not allowed to do his second tenure under national and international conspiracy. In 2023, Buhari would have spent a good eight years in office. Naturally, it is now the turn of the South to take a shot at the presidency.

Considering the rotational system, it’s obviously the turn of the south and realizing that former President Jonathan performed creditably well during his first four years in the office, groups and individual have been calling on him to come out and contest the 2023 presidential election to enable him complete his remaining four years.

The ruling All Progressives Congress, APC led the pack of the groups clamouring for Jonathan to contest in 2023 as it publicly declared that the party will give the former president an opportunity to contest for the presidency if he joins the ruling party.

The National Secretary of the party’s Caretaker, and Extra-ordinary Convention Planning Committee, John Akpanudoedehe was said to have made the declaration while featuring as a guest on Channels Television’s Politics Today.

Speaking further, the APC official said the ex-president will be granted a founding member status if he joins, adding however that the opportunity that will be given to Jonathan is not automatic, noting that he would compete with other members of the party before getting the ticket.

“I am hearing that for the first time that we are expecting the former President. That will be great news. We will welcome him; that will also strengthen the party”, Akpanudodehe was quoted to have said.

Apart from the APC’s assurance, some northern state governors have also at one time or the other called on the former President to come out, contest and complete the fours left for him to be president in accordance with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution as amended.

Just last week, a group operating under the aegis of Citizens Network for Peace and Development (CNPD) called on former President Jonathan to run for the office of president in the 2023 general election.

It also asked the ex-president to dump his party, the Peoples Democratic Party, and join forces with President Muhammadu Buhari in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to achieve this goal and appealed to President Buhari  to support the former president.

The National Coordinator of CNPD, Raphael Okorie, who made the call in Abuja, said the group is ready to mobilise at least eight million citizens to return Mr. Jonathan to the office of the president.

He said the group wants the former president to accept the offer to serve and rescue Nigeria at a crucial moment like now “because of his track records in office.”

Also, another group operating under the aegis of Nationalists Movement for GEJ 2023 has called on former President Jonathan to contest in the 2023 presidential election.

The National Coordinator of the group, Engr Abidde Robinson, made the call at a media conference in Abuja, while explaining reasons why the former President is to contest the election, as Nigerians want him back to Aso Villa. According to Robinson, Jonathan remains a great statesman, patriot, and national pacifier whose pedigree and track record proves he has the magic wand that Nigerians want to change the present situation of things.

“Nigeria is on the march again. As the countdown to 2023 Presidential elections begins, all patriotic Nigerians must deeply reflect on this adage that says, “when a child falls, he looks front but when an adult falls, he looks back to see what caused his fall.

“We the Nationalists Movement, a non-partisan, very patriotic and nationalistic Nigerians of like minds all over the world poised to promote, build and sustain national ideals have carefully identified former President, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan as a great statesman, patriot, and national pacifier whose pedigree and track record proves he has the magic wand needed to sooth ethnic tensions in different parts of the country.

“We are therefore, passionately pleading with H.E. Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan to yield and not resist the wishes and calls of  majority of patriotic Nigerians from home and in the Diaspora to come back to Aso Rock Presidential Villa in 2023  because: Our national unity, peace and security needs to be preserved now than before.

“He is a unifying force; he is trusted, dependable and the most accepted politician across board in contemporary Nigeria and he is a democrat who builds, entrenches and deepens strong democratic culture and institutions, not strong personalities.

“He is well known for his civil approach in tackling national issues to ensure the rule of law, social justice and equity are promoted and protected, he is a very good manager of our economy. Under him, Nigeria’s economy was number one in Africa and the fastest growing economy in the world; he ran an all-inclusive government that gave every part of the country a sense of belonging in terms of policies and appointments.

“He speaks and acts for national interest, not sectional or parochial interest; Under him, every one’s vote count; his political ambition is not worth the blood of any Nigerian; He encourages dialogue in conflict management rather than force; he preaches and practices the politics of give and take and not winner takes it all; and Nigeria and Nigerians now needs a popular leader like Dr. Jonathan with a track record of integrity and statesmanship to bridge the north-south alliance in 2023.

“It is in view of the above that majority of patriotic and nationalistic Nigerians and friends of Nigeria from all works of life are pleading with Dr. Jonathan to accept this critical national service once again”, stated.

With these calls coming from credible organizations and individuals who have realized the need for the former president to once again mount the seat of power come 2023, time has come for him to come out clearly and accept the clamour to salvage Nigeria from the current prevailing predicament.

Ogueri, a political analyst, writes from Bauchi

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