By Stephen Ubanna
Until, he handed over power to President Muhammadu Buhari of the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC, in May 29, 2015, former President Goodluck Jonathan, had a word for Nigerians: I am leaving the Presidential Villa but you will soon know the difference between my government and the incoming government.
He may have read the handwriting on the wall, that the APC, government will bring economic hardship to Nigerians but wants to leave with his head high. He got it right. Barely six years out of office, Nigerians may have seen the difference between his government and that of the APC.
The ruling APC, may have seen that Jonathan, the Bayelsa born Politician is now a beautiful pride that the party had started reaching him using all his known Political contacts and Associates to dump the PDP in order to pick its 2023 Presidential Ticket. Uche secondus, the National Chairman, of the opposition People’s Democratic Party, PDP, may have alluded o this when he said that there have been reports suggesting that the two major parties in the country, APC and the PDP, have been doing everything within their capacity to get former President Jonathan to run for the Presidency in 2023’’. The party may not have stopped in paching only the former Nigerian President but other notable PDP Chieftains from the south east and south-south geopolitical region including serving governors and Senators.
The rumour became pronounced that he may contest the 2023 Presidential election on the ticket of the APC, because of his close working relationship with the Katsina state born Nigeria President that he has used him on some international assignments. The most recent was his appointment as the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, Special Envoy to help mediate in the political Crisis in Mali.
Also a closed door meeting between some APC , governors and the the former President at the instance of Buhari, in his Abuja residence, where the idea to him speaks volume. Mala Buni, governor of Yobe state and acting National Chairman of the APC, was sais said to have led the governors to Jonathan’s residence for the secret meeting.
The closed door meeting , according to party sources followed the defection of Dave Umahi, governor of Eboyi state, south east Nigeria to the party. The APC Chieftains who are acting out script may have used the Umahi defection to the party as a bait to convince Jonathan to dump the PDP, in order to clinch the party Presidential ticket in 2023.
Umahi, may have known that the APC, is shopping fora Presidential material from the south east that when he was poached, he did not hesitate in dumping the PDP. They may not have been successful in their plot. That much was said by Secondus, the PDP National Chairman.
Secondus, knowing the plan of the ruling APC, to use every known political tricks to force Jonathan and other notable figures in the party to defect to the APC , preparatory for the 2023, Presidential election had cried out. Appealing to the Katsina state born Nigerian President and his fronts ‘’to stop running up and down poaching opposition party members, noting that’’ what should bother ruling party most for now should be good governance, tackling the country’s broken down insecurity and the economy’’
He noted that if Buhari and his foot soldiers would stop running up and down and face the reason why the people gave them the mandate to govern, ‘’there will be no security issues, there will be no economic issues like hunger or bad governance’’.
He may have sent a message to the former President that he has no reason to bow to pressure from the APC to join the party as he and other Chieftains of the PDP are free to vie for the party Presidential ticket in the 2023 general elections.
He has made it clear to those that cares to listen that the party which is out to reclaim power in 2023, general election, choice of Presidential Candidate would been guided by the report of the Bala Mohammed, who incidentally is the governor of Bauchi state, Committee, which work is still pending. The Committee is expected to come out with a report on why ‘’ the party lost the 2019, Presidential election and then make amends.
Even though, the APC and PDP, are making effort , to win Jonathan by their side, the later has kept his political ambition for 2023, a closely guided secret. Accosted by some Journalists after an event organised by the Commonwealth Community Choir in Abuja recently, and the question was posed to him that he is being poached by the APC to pick the pasrty Presidential ticket in 2023, for the asking, he was very evasive in his reply: it is too early to talk about that.
He may have used the opportunity to urge Nigerians’’ to support the Buhari government to put an end to the security challenge in the country’’, stressing that ‘’Nigeria is not the only country in the world that is faced by insecurity’’. His response to the Journalistic questions may have given people the impression that he has a soft spot for Buhari and the APC.
Osita Okechukwu, Director General, Voice of Nigeria, VOA, and Buhari loyalist, may have spoken the mind of the Nigerian President that the APC, will zone its 2023 Presidential ticket to the south east, explaining ‘’that a President of Igbo extraction would transform the economy’’. Emma Enechukwu, Vice Chairman, the south east for Presidency 2023 Movement, SEFORP2023, has corroborated Okechukwu, the VOA, Director General’s claims that a President of Igbo extraction would develop the country.
But even though, Buhari, and his loyalists succeed in getting the next Presidential Candidate of the APC, in 2023, from the south east, the south west chieftains of the party will kick against it which may factionalise the party. Babatunde Raji Fashola, a senior Advocate of Nigeria , SAN and former governor of Lagos state , who incidentally is the minister of works and housing, may have sent a signal to the party leadership of what to expect from the region if it fails’’ to respect the agreement on zoning’’.
Fashola had said that though the 199 Constitution , as amended, does not provide for a zoning formular, noting that ‘’it is a matter of honour for parties which had entered into such agreements to stay true to their words’’. He had said that the Opposition PDP, which is the former President Jonathan’s own party, now being poached to dump the party and join the APC, has nothing to offer Nigerians, an indication that Jonathan has nothing to offer Nigerians.
Given minister’s impression that the Party is not thinking well, he had said that whosoever picks the PDP, Presidential ticket in 2023 will be defeated in the general elections. The works and housing minister may have become very outspoken about the need for the party to respect the zoning agreement because of the rumour making the rounds that his political godfather, Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinbu, a former governor of Lagos state and the APC National Leader has a Presidential ambition. He wants him to clinch the APC Presidential ticket on a platter of gold without Competition from other interested parties .