For those who are inside, the recent tension in the ruling party, All Progressive Congress (APC), is nothing but a script whose prediction is well known, and that is to create a safe landing for the former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan (GEJ) to contest as the party’s presidential candidate in next year’s election.
The fact is that the voices are getting louder and strategic mobilisation has been going on among different groups in different parts of the country. The sole aim is to ensure that they mount sufficient pressure on GEJ to agree to return to power. It is a national call for him to come and salvage the country from the brink of collapse as a result of disunity and divisions along ethnic and religious lines in the country.
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It is observable that, as President Muhammadu Buhari’s second term in office gradually approaches its terminal date, political parties and politicians have started oiling their machinery in readiness for 2023 general election. That is what has been manifesting in the ruling party.
Already, political support groups are beginning to prompt gladiators they believe have the capacity and character to move Nigeria to the next level, if given the opportunity through the polls to lead the country.
While this subtle political advocacy is going on quietly, those who are aspiring to succeed President Buhari across all political platforms have begun to express their intentions publicly.
First to throw his hat in the ring was former governor of Lagos State and chieftain of the APC, Senator Bola Tinubu, who visited President Buhari at the Villa to make his intentions known to the first family.
Ebonyi State Governor Dave Umahi swiftly followed suit by informing the President of his intentions to contest the 2023 election, during a meeting with Buhari at the Presidential Villa.
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The Chief Whip in the Senate and former Governor of Abia State, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, has also indicated interest to contest for the office in 2023.
Those who joined Kalu in expressing their aspiration to govern Nigeria on the pages of newspapers include Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, former president of the Senate, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, former Governor Peter Obi, governors of Bauchi, Sokoto, Rivers, Kaduna, Borno and Enugu states.
But so far, the most popular and important figure in the permutations of who succeeds President Buhari is Jonathan. Though he has not openly expressed his intentions to run for the plum job, pundits say he should be positive about the national service one more time. There are also strong indications that pro-Buhari elements, after rigorous research on the prospects of all the aspirants and secret poll, are favourably disposed to handing over power to GEJ, if he makes up his mind to contest the election.
Before political parties begin the process of pruning down these number of qualified and unqualified aspirants that have already flooded the political market, it is important to look at some of the qualities and selling points that stand each aspirant out from the crowd.
While some are banking on the gentleman’s zoning arrangement of political parties, some are exercising faith in their money and popularity, and a few others rely on ethnicity and religion. However, there are very infinitesimal number of those whose unique selling point is their ability to do the job as well as acceptance across ethnic, religious and regional divides.
So far, the best option is Jonathan, who has the ability to unify Nigeria, engender sustainable development, and restor peace and prosperity back to the land as well as possesses the antidote that could launder Nigeria’s dirty image at home and in the Diaspora.
While humanity depends on soaps and detergents to constantly keep body and clothes clean, and the environment on broom and other modern implements to keep environment clean, Nigeria as a sovereign state needs a President whose skillful act of statecraft is second to none.
The experience of former President Jonathan as Deputy Governor, Governor, Vice-President, Acting President and President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria cannot be bought in the market. This is in addition to his international outings since he left office in 2015.
Jonathan has not only demonstrated capacity to move the country out of the woods, if given a second chance, but also has the skills and connections to mobilize the needed international support to accelerate development in the country.
Since he handed over power to the incumbent President, he has been busy with international engagements due to his impeccable democratic credentials. This is even as he has been honoured with several appointments, awards and speaking events since leaving office in 2015.
He now serves as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Special Envoy and Mediator to Mali, among other engagements. In June 2019, former President Jonathan emerged chairman of the International Summit Council for Peace, a body made up of mainly former African Presidents.
Jonathan, who assumed this role during the international leadership conference in Johannesburg, South Africa, tasked African leaders on credible elections on the continent by always ensuring that persons with proven integrity and character are appointed to head the electoral umpire.
Jonathan is also the chancellor of Cavendish University, Uganda. Nigerians are indeed hungry for a leader with these verifiable credentials and achievements to lead them at this period when the country is on the verge of disintegration. This is so because his regime will no doubt restore Nigeria’s lost glory in the black continent and, by extension, on the global front.
Nigeria’s image has been battered to the extent that government agencies and security agents assault Nigerian diplomats in foreign missions as well as rape the inviolability of missions abroad with impunity. The demolition of residential quarters within the premise of the Nigerian Mission in Accra, Ghana, and the attempt by Indonesian immigration officials to strangle a top Nigerian diplomat readily come to mind.
Just last December, the airport security at the Gnassingbe Eyadema International Airport in Lome, Togo, brutalized Nigerian passengers traveling from New York who missed their connecting fight for no fault of theirs for daring to complain. It took the intervention of Nigerian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Geoffrey Onyeama, and Nigerian Ambassador to Togo to save the situation.
Jonathan’s presidency would restore Nigeria’s respect and good image as a regional power, if given a second chance, because he has what it takes. Former President Jonathan is no doubt the man for the job and should be given the chance to bring all these experiences to bear in the the management of local and international affairs as an elected President.