The seeming hide and seek game former President Goodluck Jonathan is playing with the undying speculation of his interest in succeeding President Muhammadu Buhari in 2023 is not going down well with Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF).
The group wants Jonathan who has been rumoured to have defected to President Buhari’s All Progressives Congress (APC) in a bid to perfect his return bid to the Presidential Villa, Abuja, to consult them first if he really wants to succeed Buhari in 2023.
This is even as Movement for the Survival of Izon Ethnic Nationality in the Niger Delta (MOSIEND) is calling on Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to investigate ministers that recently resigned from the cabinet of President Buhari.
MOSIEND’s Acting Chairman, Marvin Kofi Thompson, is particularly urging the anti-graft agency to probe the immediate-past Niger Delta Affairs Minister, Godswill Akpabio, and the alleged huge monies spent in Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
Akpabio who dominated the affairs of Akwa Ibom State for eight years (2007-2015) as governor, is also in the race for APC’s presidential ticket.
MOSIEND is accusing Akpabio of allegedly using funds from NDDC to finance his 2023 presidential ambition, noting that the Niger Delta witnessed “gross setbacks” during his time as minister.
“MOSIEND will like to guide EFCC to investigate the financial misappropriation under the Professor K Pondi and Akwa Effiong Okon administrations as both administration was marred with corruption, high handedness and, financial crimes.
“It is on record that the Niger Delta region witnessed gross setbacks as it relates to development in the roles of NDDC. Niger Delta region had obviously witnessed development standstill or dark age under the administration of Goodwill Akpabio as a minister because of the manipulative tendencies of the Akwa Ibom politician”, the group said.
While challenging Akpabio to come out clean and explain how NDDC budgets were expensed under his administration, MOSIEND equally urged the presidential hopeful to explain to Nigerians how the N799 billion of the 2020-2021 budget was used under his administration.
Interestingly, EFCC has asked the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to provide it with the financial details of registered political parties as it launches an investigation into the finances of the parties and their presidential aspirants ahead of the 2023 general elections.
EFCC Chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa, hinted on a Channels Television’s programme, Politics Today, that the commission would be working in synergy with INEC and other election-related organisations to track the sources of the money spent on the purchase of nomination forms.
In the meantime, on Jonathan’s suspected presidential ambition, PANDEF says its intervention has become necessary following reports of APC presidential form purchase for the ex-president, though his media aide, Ikechukwu Eze, has since denied the authorization of his principal on any group to purchase 2023 presidential form for Jonathan.
National Publicity Secretary of PANDEF, Ken Robinson, is still urging Jonathan to first consult the group if he wants to contest the forthcoming presidential election.
“We will tell Jonathan the political platform to use as well as other confidential information at our disposal that will secure victory for him. Jonathan has the constitutional right to seek another presidential term but he has to listen to us for his own good and that of the Niger Delta region.
“We understand why some Northern groups are calling on him to contest the 2023 presidential election after same Northerners ignored his good deeds and voted him out of office in 2015. It will be very wise for Jonathan to hear from us before seeking presidential election in 2023’’, Robinson said.
PANDEF added that a lot of APC members and the Northerners who are calling on Jonathan to contest the 2023 presidential election are doing so for political reasons and “we know their antics”.