2023 Presidency : Jonathan Has Right To Contest
By Ken Inebraye
September 30, 2021
Right Of Reply To Yekini Nabena: Jonathan Has The Right To Contest For 2023 Presidential Election
Former National Publicity Secretary of the ruling All Progressives Congress, Yekini Nabena granted an explosive interview to the Sun Newspapers on 26th September, 2021. In that controversial interview, he said he will oppose the speculated move by the APC to give former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan an automatic presidential ticket but will have no squabbles if he only joins as an elder to give advice to the young ones.
This bile filled interview was highly distasteful and unbecoming of a politician of his calibre. Jonathan has the right to contest the Presidency of the country under any political party. The 1999 Constitution is clear that the holder of that office can hold it for two terms. He has only done one term and so it is within his rights to aspire to the highest political office in the land.
Stephen Glover Cleveland is the first and only American President to serve two non consecutive terms as US President. He was in office from 1893 to 1897 and from 1885 to 1889. The Heavens didn’t fall! There are unconfirmed rumours that Donald Trump will be drafted back to the race in 2024 which may make him the second President to achieve that feat if it eventually happens. Coming down home Ekiti State Governor, Dr. John Kayode Fayemi is currently doing two non consecutive terms as the Governor of Ekiti State between 2010 and 2014 and then from 2018 till date. His tenure will expire next year. The first Governor to do so was Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso the former Governor of Kano State who was in office between 1999 to 2003 and then from 2011 to 2015. Ditto former Governor Ayo Fayose.
Jonathan made history by being the first President in the country’s history to lose the election which he graciously acceded to and spared the tensed nation a potential bloodbath if he had decided to emulate the bad example of some of his former African contemporaries in being a sit-tight leader. He famously said: ‘My ambition is not worth the blood of any Nigerian.’ His action made him get courted by international organizations where he graced the podiums of prestigious institutions most notably Oxford. He is currently an envoy to the African Union where he has deployed his diplomatic skills to bring peace to some troubled spots in Africa.
One of Nabena’s grouse against Jonathan is that he failed to attract development to his native Bayelsa while he was in office between 2010 to 2015. For crying out loud, he was the President of Nigeria and no more the Governor of Bayelsa State. He proved to be a nationalist by building numerous Almajiri schools as he was concerned about the ugly monster of the Boko Haram and Bandits
Jonathan stepped in like a Deux ex Machina and used his highly esteemed office to help change the situation in the overall best interest of the nation. We can see how banditry has come down south and no more an entirely northern affair. The chickens have indeed come home to roost and it spares nobody. The visionary Jonathan saw this and did his best to prevent it from exacerbating. It is tragic that Nabena can be so petty as to want to reduce him to a tribal leader.
There are speculations of a possible reality of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) zoning the Chairmanship of their party to the South West which will invariably mean that the Presidency will remain in the north. This act will amount to a gross injustice to the south as there has always been a gentleman’s agreement between both geopolitical zones to rotate power. A contender for the Chairmanship of the PDP in Lagos State, Dr. Gabriel Adetokunbo Pearse confirmed this widely held position on Arise and Channels Television.
The APC being a smart party would want to capitalize on the huge popularity and global acceptability of Jonathan to retain power. You cannot blame the APC for using every trick in the book to retain power as politics is a game of wits where only the smartest survives and thrives. We recall that brexit was an issue that tore Britons apart. The nation was fiercely divided and the then Prime Minister, David Cameron who was against the departure of the UK from the European Union committed political hara-kiri by subjecting it to a nationwide referendum rather than restricting it to a vote in the House of Commons.
The current Prime Minister, Boris Johnson who was the then Mayor of London who had his eyes on No. 10 Downing Street campaigned in favour of the UK leaving the union and used his skills and contacts in the British media – arguably the most powerful in the world to ensure its victory. The strategy worked and Cameron and even Theresa May were forced to step down as Prime Minister.
Johnson cashed in on the uncertainty that brexit brought in that the exodus of many Eastern Europeans is the remote cause of their current fuel shortages and convinced the Brits that he would oversee a smooth exit of the UK from the EU. The Brits fell for it and gave the Conservative Party an overwhelming victory in 2019. The APC’s popularity is currently at its lowest ebb due to the rising insecurity, and youth unemployment.
They need a nationally acceptable and sellable candidate with Jonathan being the biggest name from the south. Political pundits and historians will recall what happened in the defunct Bendel State in 1983. The UPN’s popularity was at an all time high as Professor Ambrose Alli embarked on massive infrastructural development in healthcare, education and rural development across the state. Defeating him would have been an uphill task. What did the NPN do? First they changed the leadership. Chief Tayo Akpata who had surprisingly defeated Chief Anthony Eromosele Enahoro in the election to elect the Bendel State NPN Chairman was removed in favour of Chief Tony Anenih.
The former Military Governor of Bendel State, Brigadier-General Samuel Osaigbovo Ogbemudia was drafted from retirement and was given the NPN ticket after defeating the popular Senator Felix Ibru in the primaries. Against all odds, Ogbemudia backed by the political wizardry of Anenih won the election. The APC may want to use this strategy in 2023 to retain power.
It is within Jonathan’s rights to recontest in 2023; Nabena should learn to live with this and not make a public ridicule of himself.