As the nation moves closer to 2023, former president Goodluck Jonathan’s name has remained a ‘recurring decimal’ in political discussions and permutations.
Jonathan is a member of the opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), on whose platform he served as president from 2010 to 2015, after the death of Umar Yar’adua until his defeat by the ruling party.
But his membership of the PDP has also been a matter of speculation of late.
The Bayelsa-born politician has had his palm kernel cracked for him and enjoyed some sort of ‘political grace’. He is the only Nigerian who had tasted the four positions in the executive arm of government: the deputy governor, governor, vice president, and president.
After his exit from office, Jonathan had visited President Buhari several times in the last couple of months, more than any other former head of state. The Presidency claimed he came to brief Buhari over happenings in troubled African countries.
Also, Jonathan had not been seen at any event organised by the PDP in the last year. He has scarcely identified with the party’s activities since losing his second term bid to President Buhari of the APC in 2015. He was also absent at the party’s national convention last year.
But in the past weeks, there have been calls for the entrance of Jonathan into the race to occupy Aso Rock in 2023.
But Jonathan’s lack of clarity on the issue, which many believe confirms that he is testing the waters for the presidential bid, has continued to encourage many – faceless and known – groups to mount pressure on him to run.
Thus the speculations in the past couple of weeks that Jonathan will compete for the ticket of the ruling party despite not being a member of the ruling party.
Some observers have warned and advised him against riding on the back of the tiger – the All Progressives Congress (APC) – that consumed him.
During the week, a coalition of northern groups consisting of nomadic Fulani pastoralists and Almajiri communities purchased the presidential expression of interest and nomination forms of the ruling APC for Jonathan.
This unexpected development sparked mixed reactions. Many wondered the rationale behind the strange political calculus for Jonathan to join the race.
But Jonathan’s former aide, Reno Omokri, swiftly reacted saying that his former principal won’t join the 2023 presidential race secretly.
Omokri posted, “Jonathan has nothing to do with the reported purchase of some forms. He has an official spokesman and his own staff. He is a man of honour and will not do anything surreptitiously. The media and the public should be guided.
“I could have denied this hours ago, but I deliberately declined in order to watch his enemies and mine dance deliriously at the thought that they’d demystified @GEJonathan. There is no Nigerian alive that has the national and international credibility that HE GEJ has.”
Then later, a statement issued by Jonathan’s Media Adviser, Ikechukwu Eze, explained that his principal didn’t authorise the purchase of the forms.
Jonathan described the purchase of the form, ‘without his consent’ as an ‘insult.’
But in what appears to be a U-turn, there have been trending yet-to-be-confirmed reports that Jonathan has made up his mind to vie for the top post.
Meanwhile, there have been controversies over the eligibility of Jonathan due to the alteration to the 1999 Constitution. Legal gladiators engaged in an intellectual battle over the legal propriety or otherwise of Jonathan.
Femi Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), had argued that Jonathan is not eligible by virtue of 137 (3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended, which provides as follows:
“A person who was sworn in to complete the term for which another person was elected as president shall not be elected to such office for more than a single term.”
But Mike Ozekhome, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, and Abdul Mahmod have argued otherwise, saying that Jonathan is eligible to serve another term of four years.
Amid all of these controversies surrounding Jonathan’s 2023 presidential ambition, he has secured an international appointment with the European Corporate Council.
Jonathan was appointed to the international advisory board of the European Corporate Council on Africa and the Middle East (ECAM Council).
As the clock ticks faster towards 2023, many are holding their breath as they await the outcome of a crucial decision to be taken in the next few days, especially with respect to the ambition of Jonathan.
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