As the 2023 presidential election draws closer, there have been speculations that former president Goodluck Jonathan would re-contest for the nation’s number one position. It has been rumoured in some political quarters that the former president will be seeking nomination of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), the party he lost power to in 2015.
The former president’s presidential campaign poster surfaced online recently, a development which lends credence to speculations that Jonathan is being positioned to take over from the incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari in 2023.
The campaign poster was produced by a group known as ‘National Agenda for Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.’
Political analysts have offered different perspectives on the rumoured bid for Jonathan’s return to power.
A former special assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on National Assembly Matters (House of Representatives) Hon Sumaila Kawu said those rooting for the candidature of a former president, Goodluck Jonathan, for the 2023 presidential elections under the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) are doing a great disservice to the party.
“I don’t think those pushing for Jonathan to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari under our great party with the APC well. Yes, Jonathan is a reformed democrat who deserves our commendation.
“But he had played his own role under the PDP. Nobody will take away the credit of conceding defeat as a sitting president and handing over power to the opposition peacefully from Jonathan. He is better than some of the people at our party.
“However, we cannot as a party say Jonathan should come and pick our presidential ticket when we have better candidates in our midst. That will mean we have failed,” he said.
Kawu said if APC is interested in giving his presidential ticket to the southern part of the country, there are stalwarts of the party that contributed immensely to the success of the party.
For example, he said, from the South-South, the likes of Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, who served as the Director-General of the APC presidential campaign twice should be considered.
He said Amaechi is a team player that has demonstrated good leadership during his assignment as the DG twice, noting that has all it takes to lead the country better than Jonathan.
Also, Kawu said from the South West, Vice President Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, who has proved to be a worthy deputy to President Buhari since 2015 is eminently qualified to succeed his principal.
He noted that Osinbajo has good knowledge of how to lead the country have worked closely with President Buhari.
From the South East, Kawu said the Minister of State for Education, Chief Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, who has made a lot of sacrifices and made significant contributions to make the APC gain acceptance in his region has the credentials to be nominated as APC presidential candidate.
He said apart from having the age on his side, Chief Nwajiuba is a silent achiever as a politician of repute.
Kawu added that the era of imposition has gone forever, hence the few people calling for Jonathan’s candidature should be careful.
According to Kawu, pushing for Jonathan to become APC’s candidate would automatically mean the party has failed.
Describing the Jonathan backers as “enemies within,” Kawu said APC has qualified and credible candidates from the southern part who can eminently contest for the APC presidential ticket in 2023.
A development expert based in Maiduguri, Borno State said the permutations are drifting towards the North again; saying the body language is glaringly showing that the region, after spending eight years still wants to produce another president to rule for 16 years.
According to him, in the spirit of fairness and justice, it is wrong and unacceptable and should not be allowed to happen in a heterogeneous entity like Nigeria.
“While it is good to clarify that zoning or rotational presidency is not enshrined in the Constitution or any electoral laws in the country, there is an unwritten understanding that was practised by the PDP which united Nigeria and gave every segment a sense of belonging and inclusion,” he said.
Mukhtar, however, noted that it is still not clear whether the ruling party, APC, is disposed to retaining this age-long democratic practice that has remained a strong pillar of the country’s democracy and a uniting force. This is what has currently divided the political elites among the political parties.
A communiqué by the Southern Governors Forum signed after its meeting in Lagos stated that “The Forum reiterates its commitment to the politics of equity, fairness and unanimously agrees that the presidency of Nigeria be rotated between Southern and Northern Nigeria and resolved that the next president of Nigeria should emerge from the Southern Region.”
The leaders of the North which include state governors, traditional and opinion leaders that met in Kaduna replied to the Southern governors saying “The Forum unanimously condemn the statement by the Southern Governors Forum that the Presidency must go to the South”.
However, socio-cultural groups from the South-East, Middle Belt and North-Central, South-West, South-South as well as minority groups in the North all threw their weights behind the position of the Southern Governors Forum in the spirit of equity, fairness and justice.
Also, a prominent politician from the North East categorically supported the position of the South-South. According to him, “I have said it times without number that I am of the view that the presidency should go to the South in the year 2023 because the unity of our country is very important.”
“Secondly, inclusivity is very important. Thirdly, I am in the APC. Six or seven years ago, APC had zoned the presidency to Northern Nigeria based on the agreement that in the year 2023, the presidency should go to the South”, he added.
Similarly, the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKAPU) are in support of the southern governors for power to shift to the south saying, “We wish to categorically declare that we align with the position taken by the Southern Governors for power to shift to the Southern part of Nigeria after the eight years of President Buhari in 2023. Thereafter, power should then rotate among the North, South, and Middle Belt zones to ensure justice, fairness, and equity,” SOKAPU President, Comrade Jonathan Asake, said in a statement.
Leading lawyers have also expressed the position of the Constitution and relevant laws which envisage such matters as having arisen today. For instance, Senior Advocate of Nigeria and rights advocate, Mr Sam Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, stated “Drafters of the Constitution envisaged a situation when a section of the country may want to dominate others and provided for provisions against it. Section 14 (3) forbids domination of political space or occupation of office to the detriment of others. It is to promote national cohesion, loyalty to the country and the spread of offices, including the presidency.
“If six geo-political zones called north have been in power since 2015 and after exhausting eight years, the Constitution expects the south to produce the next president. Zoning is lawful and constitutional. And there is precedent. In 2006, they (Northern governors) made similar demands for power shift, if they check their records.
“Again, Article 7 of PDP says zoning shall be adopted and enforced. Article 7 of APC says a similar thing, to promote national unity. Both in their constitutions and the constitution of Nigeria, there is room for zoning and rotation, to promote national cohesion”, he stated.
It would seem like the power shift demand has received a wider consensus in favour of power moving to the South in 2023. But a careful assessment of the power shift conversation has been narrowed down to one direction – the South-South. Nothing made this clearer than the increasing clamour for GEJ to return to power in 2023 for him to complete another four years to make up for the South-South geopolitical zone that was truncated in 2015.
This is an idea whose time has come and the political, religious and traditional leaders of the region and the rest of the country should honour this divinely orchestrated political destiny of Nigeria and make it actualise.