Pressure is being mounted on former President Goodluck Jonathan to contest for president in next year’s election. Chief Dikivie Ikiogha, one of his close associates, spoke with Correspondent SIMON UTEBOR on the former leader’s ambition to run for the exalted office.
Former President Goodluck Jonathan has not expressed the wish to contest the next presidential elections. Chief Dikivie Ikiogha, a political associate of the former president, made the remark recently in an interview with our correspondent in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital. He said it is powerful Nigerians that have been mounting pressure on him to run.
What PDP notable Chieftains are saying
Ikiogha, one of the coordinators of “Southsouth Presidency 2023”, a bi-partisan group canvassing for a Southsouth presidency in 2023 said those seeking to draft Jonathan into the race are doing so, because he is the best suited for the job. The chieftain of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) admitted that some stakeholders visited the former president in his residence to sell the idea of contesting the presidency again to him.
He said: “We visited him to sell our idea to him about what we stand for at the South-south Presidency 2023, our aims and objectives, our mission and that we are prepared to support a candidate from the South-south. We did not go there to persuade him; we did not go there as members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) or the PDP. We were there to convince him on why the South-south should be given a chance to complete its tenure.
“We placed the matter before Jonathan and even told him specifically that when the acclaimed winner of June 12, 1993 election, Moshood Abiola died, if the Southwest had kept quiet, they would not have got a replacement through the Interim National Government headed by Ernest Shonekan. Also, the North would not have had a chance in 2015, if stakeholders had kept quiet when Umaru Yar’Adua died.
“In Nigeria, you don’t keep quiet to get things done. That is why it is necessary we do what we are doing and we pray that every zone, the North-central, the Northeast and the Northwest, as well as the South-south, the Southwest and the Southeast, all have people to contest. It is on that opinion that he agreed with us.
“At the appropriate time, when we move around all these people, then we will see what would happen. In his own case, we are not telling him that he would spend four years. But, he is constitutionally bound to spend only four years. We have been telling other people that if they are coming in, it is four years because we don’t want to create problems in this country. If you can actualise what is in your mind for four years, step in, but if you can’t, step out. We will support anybody who agrees to spend four years.
“We have met him and he said it was a good idea because every zone has people to lead the country. However, he did not say he accepted and that he wanted to contest. Anyway, he wouldn’t have told us that. Even if he is not willing to contest, the people will call on him to come out. We have been having a lot of calls from the North. It is now I know that Jonathan is a hot cake in Nigeria.”
Ikiogha, a former Chief of Staff, Bayelsa State Government House, said Jonathan’s alleged bid to return to Aso Rock, the seat of power, is still a matter of speculation. His words: “Has anybody declared in this country? Nobody has declared. Until they declare, we will know that they are contesting the election. Otherwise, we know the whole thing is speculation.
“When a politician is sharing rice to orphanages, people will say because he wants to contest. Therefore, until we hear them declare that they are contesting, we know it is a serious business. But, nobody has declared yet.”
On the bid by Jonathan’s associates to draft him into the 2023 race, Ikiogha said anyone who has good intentions for the country has the right to search for a good person to contest. He said, it is against this background that many groups are seeking to convince the former president to join the race, “because it is believed that he is the best person to contest the election today”.
He added: “If we are looking at the reality, Jonathan is the person that can bring peace, stability and unity to the system. Some persons are threatening to tear the country apart, but he is the only person that is most acceptable today.
“Again, Jonathan has only one term left. After that, the country can be stable and united, so that the normal politics can flow. Otherwise, anywhere you go and pick somebody now, that wound is not healed. If it is not healed, anything that we put there is an explosion, it is pregnant and anything can come out.
“So, today, in this country, through analysis and if we love Nigeria, then we should look towards that. But the question remains; is the man (Jonathan) willing? That is the thing because he has just come out to say he wants to contest.
“Left to me, I would enjoin other Nigerians to persuade him to contest. This is because if you really need the unity, the peace and the security of this country, it is only Jonathan that can ensure that. Those that are agitating for restructuring and things like that, he has set up the mechanism in 2014 through the national conference and all the solutions are there. So, if he comes in today, he is coming to implement them.
“And implementing them will solve the problems of the Southwest, Southeast and the Middle Belt, among others, and he will also bring unity which is the idea of the North. They don’t want the various regions to go their separate ways; they want all of us to stay together.”
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Ikiogha said the group was still consulting, making contacts with people and that at the appropriate time they would come out with their position on who will contest from South-south. He said the rotation between the North and South was not between the Southwest and the North. He said Chief Olusegun Obasanjo has utilized the slot of the Southwest and that the region should not be seeking to contest next year’s presidential election. Besides, he said Vice President Yemi Osinbajo would be completing another eight years on the saddle by May next year when the present administration bows out.
He said: “The presidency is not meant for them (Southwest) alone, and for fairness and equity, they should look for somebody in the Southeast or the South-south to support. The Southwest should not come out and say they want to contest. That is not justice. Every zone has people that can rule this country?
“I belong to a political party and if it makes a mistake on this, we will resist it. We have a group too, the South-south Presidency 2023, which is not affiliated with any political party. We are a mixture of different political parties. What we are fighting for is the truth. We have warned long ago that the two major political parties should not make the mistake of foisting the chairmanship position on anybody from the Southouth or South as a whole. Similarly, no one from the South should accept the position of vice president; otherwise, we would work against that party. The PDP nearly made that mistake and I think it has retraced its step.”
Speculations also have it that he may contest
A source close to Jonathan said there are no indications that ex-President Jonathan is interested in contesting the next presidential election. The source, who craved anonymity, however, said that some powerful persons across the country have been lobbying him to contest.
He said if Jonathan had wished to contest, it would not be a hidden thing. He, therefore, urged people to be more circumspect in their judgment. The source said, for now, Jonathan’s primary focus was on his foundation and his international mediation engagements.
The source said: “Jonathan has been receiving visitors, New Year messages, courtesy calls in-house and across the board. It was in line with that that some elders, most of them, Bayelsa people met him in his residence to discuss some issues. It was not basically on the 2023 election.
“Some leaders came to pay New Year homage to him, which is not strange during this period as a former president. Notable leaders across the South-south have been paying homage to him at his residence and it is not really tied to 2023. Of course, people have been lobbying him to contest the 2023 election, but for now, it is unclear what his stand is at the moment.
“On the possibility of defecting to the APC as being speculated, that is difficult. I can’t read his mind but I wouldn’t agree to that. The assumption is hard to believe. In the history of Nigeria, we have not seen a former president or sitting president defecting from his party to another. Considering his past records and having been a beneficiary of the PDP for 16 years, I don’t think that will happen. But, then, I am not a seer and I can’t see through his mind and what lies within it.
“Of a truth, some people have been mounting pressure to see whether he will hit the turf. Some are by this action trying to negotiate for themselves. There is no deep commitment that he wants to run for 2023. This is because he is a big fish within the political turf; there is always the tendency for people to say he is contesting. In 2019, his name was always occurring that he wanted to run but he never ran.”
A Religious leader also disclose his assumptions
A pastor of an Abuja-based church, The Resurrected Assembly (GROM), Prize F. Aluko, has reportedly predicted that Jonathan would return as president in 2023. The pastor said in his recent prophetic declaration revealed that Jonathan left office in 2015 because God had training for him on some missions to achieve in the future.
He added that now that the former president has been prepared by God, it was time to go for what the Almighty had in mind for him, which is the presidency.