Twists And Turns Of Jonathan’s Second Coming

Ezinwanne Onwuka

Ezinwanne Onwuka

Ahead of the much anticipated 2023 general elections, there have been widespread speculations bordering on the question of who the ruling party, All Progressives Congress (APC) will produce as its presidential candidate. As of the time of writing, over 20 aspirants have picked the party’s N100 million expression of interest and nomination forms.

Interestingly, other politicians, undettered by the outrageous cost of the forms, continue to join the race. It is even more interesting that despite the high calibre of political hawks jostling for the position within the party, all fingers are pointing at one man: former President Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan.

The former president has been in the news since late 2020 over a possible comeback in 2023 after voluntarily conceding defeat to President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015. The rumours had it that the ruling party is secretly plotting to recruit him to their party inorder to lure him into the presidential race for the forthcoming 2023 general elections.

Well, the rumours turned out to have an iota of truth in them when the reports of how a ‘coalition of Northern groups’, according to Premium Times, bought the most coveted forms for our endearing ex-president went viral, sparking controversies last Monday. This culminated in the zenith of the pressure on Jonathan from groups and individuals, particularly from the North, to throw his hat into the ring and contest for the presidential election in 2023.

Prior to the connivance of the Northern delegates and some key APC loyalists in the purchase of the forms, posters of Jonathan with inscriptions such as “Mai Naisara” (The Luckiest One), “Goodluck, Our Choice”, “Goodluck Jonathan You Must Run” and “GEJ Is Coming Back” had flooded some cities in Northern Nigeria.

To further mount pressure on the former president, many groups have staged a rally calling on him to run for the presidency in 2023. The latest being the recent reports of supporters, comprised mostly of Northerners, who stormed his office in Maitama demanding that he joins the already crowded presidential race.

From these developments, it is paradoxical that the region that posed the greatest opposition to Jonathan during the 2015 presidential election is the same region that is spearheading his comeback. I do not think the North has forgotten the castigation they heaped on him which led to his defeat in the 2015 polls; one of such being burying him and his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in a mock coffin.

Hearing reports of the crowd of supporters urging Jonathan to run for presidency now, I cannot help but ask: what has made a man who was humiliated out of power become suddenly attractive to the same group of persons who masterminded his downfall? Again, there are political gladiators from the North vying for the presidential seat, what has made them so unattractive that influential elements within the region deemed it fit to resurrect a ‘dead person’ to succeed President Buhari?

Whether the North is clamouring for Jonathan’s second coming because they believe he would alleviate the sufferings of Nigerians or using him as a bait for the region to get back to power in 2027, since he can only serve one term of four years if he wins in 2023, remains elusive. In some quarters, however, the later is alleged to be the case. And Jonathan might not be unaware of the plans. This might be the reason for his loud silence as regards the pressure on him to run.

It is surprising that Jonathan has done little or nothing to downplay the speculations on his second coming. He, unequivocally, told the supporters who took a protest to his office to “watch out” because the “process is ongoing”. A response that left many wondering if he truly has the intention of contesting in 2023. Also, after the Northern group bought the ruling party’s presidential forms on his behalf, rather than firmly dismissing the notion that he was contemplating another presidential bid, he merely upbraided them for insulting him with their action.

Hence, I foresee that he will eventually consent to the agreement—returning to power and handing over to a Northerner after four years—and this will not be surprising given that the relationship between him and the incumbent president has been remarkably warm in recent years, and that he already has one leg in the APC since 2019 when he covertly supported the candidacy of David Lyon, the APC’s governorship candidate, in his home state, Bayelsa. All he just needs is to make that final step of decamping to the APC because the party is ready to hand him the presidential ticket on a silver platter.

This notwithstanding, it is my opinion that Jonathan must be wary of a second presidential tenure championed by those that brought him down in 2015. He might be the ideal man to succeed President Buhari, as he is being sold to Nigerians by some cabals of the ruling party and Northern region, but the stakes have become too high for him. 2023 is unlike 2011 when he easily warmed his way into the hearts of millions of Nigerians with his “I had no shoe” seductive speech.

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