This week has turned out to be a womb filled with the unforeseen and unexpected. Despite former President Goodluck Jonathan’s denials of never permitting any group to purchase the All Progressives Congress (APC) Presidential nomination forms at a whopping sums of N100 million, startling revelations would later make it plain that the son of the fisherman from Otuoke, who once walked to school barefooted, had abandoned the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) eight months ago.
Unable to contain the bile of disappointment, following his secret defection to the APC, his admirers, and they are many, are in deep pains in rationalising why their dearly beloved leader would jump ship to Nicodemusly dine with those who made mincemeat of him in 2015.
Long before now, not a few Nigerians felt comfortable over the Nicodemite act of such presidential visits by the former president to the house he willingly vacated for President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015. If there should be any relationship, Jonathan’s admirers had reasoned, it must not be that of cordiality but caution in avoiding the traps of the APC that has failed to replicate the excellent performance of the man it sacked for being “cluelessness”.
Two of the aspirants battling against time in next year’s polls see 2023 as their last chance to realise their dreams. Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu and former vice president Atiku Abubakar are conscious of the fact that failure to realise their presidential dream carries the inescapable end in dealing a deadly blow to their ambitions.
The aging political heavyweights are also aware that their dreams of succeeding President Muhammadu Buhari is slowly being diminished on a daily basis, following intrigues of political machinations to replace them with younger aspirants. In galvanising old foes and friends alike to support their aspirations, Asiwaju and the ‘Wazirin Adamawa’ are acutely aware that the journey for 2023 presidency is fraught with many traps that could turn dreary, long and weary.
As at the time of writing this column yesterday’s evening, no one could state with certainty if Jonathan was in the race to return to the house he was thrown out from in 2015. After news of the former president’s defection to the APC broke through the social media, later confirmed by the mainstream media, his former aide, Remo Omokri, quickly dismissed the report as fake news, stressing that his former boss was still a member of the PDP.
In supporting the denials of Omokri, the special assistant on media to the former president, Ikechukwu Eze, issued a press statement, noting that his boss never authourised any group to purchase the APC presidential forms:
“It has come to our notice that a group has purportedly purchased Presidential Nomination and Expression of Interest forms, of the All Progressives Congress APC, in the name of former President Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. We wish to categorically state that Dr. Jonathan was not aware of this bid and did not authourise it.
“We want to state that if the former President wanted to contest an election, he would make his intentions clear to the public and will not enter through the back door”.
It remains a long walk for the former president to be accepted as a consensus candidate of the APC among the over 24 aspirants gunning for the party’s presidential ticket. It is obvious that the two frontline parties are still groping in the dark over what best means to adopt in outdoing each other in a bid to overcome the zoning quagmire. The top leadership of the APC is aware that there are more dangers in opposing zoning than throwing open the race for its presidential ticket. Against the backdrop of current hair-rising bloodbaths in the last seven years rocking the country, the feeling of many citizens across the country repudiates the idea of allowing the presidency to remain in the North.
For the PDP, it seems obvious that despite the uproar on zoning, this week’s decision by the party’s NEC has revealed clamour for zoning the presidency as largely dependent on verbal warfare, rather than genuine clamour. While the PDP governors are hell-bent in frustrating the former vice president to get the presidential ticket, the capacity of the Adamawa-born shrewd politician is set to be tested. Though presently under fire for deleting a tweet over Thursday’s brutal killing of a female student of College of Education Sokoto, Deborah Samuel Yakubu, the former deputy to former President Olusegun Obasanjo cannot be underestimated for his sterling battle-ready disposition for political supremacy.
For now, no one knows where the wind will blow. Unlike in the past, the Buhari-led government has not shown any inclination towards favouring a particular aspirant for the APC ticket. The governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Dr. Godwin Emefiele, has been under serious pressure to resign his position in order to face his presidential ambition. In the heat of calls for resignation, the CBN boss this week approached the court to protect his right to remain as the CBN governor despite subterranean efforts to succeed President Buhari in 2023.
Unlike in the past where analysts predicted with certainty on who carries the day as it relates to the party’s ticket, both parties are still unsure over who will fly their presidential tickets in next year’s general elections. A storm of confusion is presently sweeping through both camps, leaving them in a state of bafflement. That is why the race for the 2023 presidency remains a mystery that is gradually turning into an unfathomable riddle.
One fact must not be lost on us: 2023 offers us an opportunity to renew our faith in the Nigerian project that seeks a new dawn towards the emergence of a new nation that respects the rights of all citizens across ethnic, religious and political divides. Considering the intrigues blowing across our country, the real work is bound to start after the primaries.
Blasphemy And Murder of Deborah
Thursday is set to go down in history as an upsetting augury for an uncertain future amidst a painful present, following the dreadful murder of a female student, Deborah Yakubu, at the College of Education, Sokoto. As someone who lived in the Caliphate city for nearly 30 years, the killing of the student over alleged blasphemy spotlights the tragedy of our corporate existence.
I have listened to the audio conversation of what led to the mob lynching of Deborah. I have also reviewed several audio and video clips of Islamic clerics on the tragedy that has left me in crippling fear over our capacity to remain united in the face of growing religious extremism. While some Muslim preachers have condemned the heinous killing of the student, a video clip of a former sermon by a Sokoto-based Muslim cleric is trending on various social media platforms where he called on Muslims not to spare blasphemers. In a nation where men and women find it difficult to do the right thing, but are very anxious to kill in defence of their religion, such a nation becomes a country waiting to be destroyed.
If the last recorded conversation by Deborah posted on a Whatsapp platform provoked the enraged mob to kill and later set her body ablaze, what were the efforts deployed by the school’s security officials to stop the murder? Was it incumbent upon her accusers to declare her guilty and thereafter killed and set her ablaze? The gruesome slaughtering of the female student within an academic environment reflects the quality of future leaders the country is breeding.
Government and religious leaders must extricate the virus of extremism in order to avert recurring incidences. The killing of Deborah should be thoroughly probed in order to avoid a repeat of such an atrocious act. All those involved in the murder of the student should be probed in order to bring the guilt to book.