Why APC Must Not Allow Jonathan to Fly its Flag
It is already a joke taken far. Otherwise, how can a rational, discerning and sane mind even comprehend the reality of having him staging a comeback.
But that, exactly, is what some vested interests, apparently members of the All Progressives Congress, APC, cabal are cooking up.
Seven years after they orchestrated and successfully masterminded the exit of Goodluck Ebele Jonathan from the Aso Rock as Nigeria’s President, the cabal members are unrelenting.
They are desperately unyielding in their machiavellian angling and ‘self-serving’ quest to foist Jonathan on the ruling party.
It was reported that two influential governors from the northern part of the country were behind the former President’s return bid.
The two governors, said to be close to Buhari, had reportedly secured the buy-in of a section of the Presidency to actualise their agenda of drafting Jonathan into the presidential race.
Through, and absolutely every deceptive and crooked manner, they also want to ensure they have their way – which is ensuring that Jonathan eventually flies the APC flag as its presidential candidate, in the 2023 general elections.
To carryout its hatchet job, top apparatchik APC disposed to the Jonathan project, and even bankrolling the grand scheme, recruited faceless groups of northern youths, under the aegis of Association of Fulani-Almajiri.
The association, earlier this Month, stormed the International Conference Centre, ICC, in Abuja, and picked up the APC presidential nomination and expression of interest forms for the ex-Nigerian leader.
Sporting fez caps with the inscription ‘run Jonathan run’, members of the coalition said Jonathan is the most qualified to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari.
They said they paid the exorbitant price of the forms with funds raised from the sales of cows to ensure Jonathan whom they described as the best president for Nigeria to return to Aso Rock in 2023.
Addressing journalists shortly after presidential forms, Ibrahim Abdullahi, leader of the group said Jonathan was the first president since the independence of Nigeria who was magnanimous to them.
He said: “Remember the almajari community, he brought a comprehensive policy of reformation and intergretion of the almajari into the mainstream educational system in Nigeria.
“It was the dream and the vision of President Goodluck Jonathan that if that programme had continued it would one day produce from the almajiri system of education; doctors, engineers.
“Goodluck Jonathan is the best president for Nigeria and I hope with this purchase of forms today, I call on all the aspirants if the are really patriotic, if the want Nigeria unity, if they can want sense of belonging if they want a president for all, if they want a president that has come out to say his ambition does not worth the blood of any Nigerian”.
Although the Bayelsa-born politician who hailed from Otuoke community came out to distance himself from the groups and their forms, Jonathan, on the same evening (the nomination forms were bought), reportedly paid a visit to the National Chairman of the APC and former Nasarawa State Governor, Abdullahi Adamu, at his residence in Abuja.
Insiders confirmed that the former President was at Adamu’s residence to seek assurance of the party’s support before he decamps from PDP to the APC, and make his intention to return to the office again public.
Between then and now, litany of events involving the ruling party and Jonathan have happened. For instance, the public was regaled, not too long ago, with the news of Jonathan’s fresh registration as an APC member in his political ward in Bayelsa.
Then, political pundits are of the view that the decision by the APC to postpone its presidential convention for a week, was to allow Jonathan participate in its primaries.
Nevertheless, a groundswell of opposition and outrage have greeted the drafting of the former president into the 2023 race, especially under the banner of the ruling party.
On one hand too, the propriety of Jonathan’s aspiration from the legal prism have since been faulted by eminent Human Rights lawyer, Femi Falana.
According to Falana, SAN, the former President could not contest the presidency again, having been sworn in twice for the same office in the past.
Jonathan was first sworn in to complete the tenure of late President Umaru Yar ‘Adua, who died on May 5, 2010 after barely three years in office. On completing the tenure, he contested the presidency in 2011 and won – but with the amendment to the 1999 constitution that any person who completes the term of an elected President would only be entitled to one term.
Falana, in a statement, said, “It has been confirmed that former President Goodluck Jonathan has decided to join the All Progressives Congress to contest the 2023 presidential election.
“However, the former President is disqualified from contesting the said election by section 137 (3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) which provides as follows: A person who was sworn in to complete the term for which another person was elected as President shall not be elected to such office for more than a single term.”
On the argument that implementation of a law could not be retrospective and that Jonathan could not be affected, Falana said, “Assuming without conceding that the amendment is not retrospective, it is submitted that under the current constitution, a President or Governor cannot spend more than two terms of eight years.
“In other words, the constitution will not allow anyone to be in office for more than a cumulative period of eight years. In Marwa v. Nyako (2012) 6 NWLR (Pt.1296) 199 at 387, the Supreme Court stated that Section 180 (1) and (2)(a) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has prescribed a single term of four years and if a second term, another period of four years and not a day longer.
“In the case of Governor (Rashidi) Ladoja v INEC (2008)40 WRN 1, the Supreme Court rejected the prayer of Governor Ladoja for 11 months’ extension to cover the period he was kept out of office through illegal impeachment. The Supreme Court rejected the prayer on the ground that a governor is entitled to spend a maximum period of eight years or less and not more than eight years.”
He added, “Having spent five years in office as President, Dr Jonathan is disqualified from contesting the 2023 presidential election. The reason is that if he wins the election he will spend an additional term of four years.
“It means he would spend a cumulative period of nine years as President of Nigeria in utter breach of Section 137 of the Constitution, which provides for a maximum two terms of eight years.”
Without equivocation, imposing Jonathan as the APC’s presidential candidate, eventually, is a recipe for chaos and implosion, something that would ultimately kill the ruling party.
In case President Muhammadu Buhari and other leaders of the APC do not know, informed Nigerians are wondering as to how the governing party would justify bringing someone it had called corrupt and incompetent back to power.
One of the most telling negative implications of such an action is that the APC does not have anyone of pristine electoral value who can win election for it, except it smuggle in a former President it defeated seven years ago, over glaring incompetence as Commander-in-Chief.
In APC today, there are several presidential aspirants with credible pedigrees and humongous electoral value and capacity. The list include Rotimi Amaechi, a former Minister of Transportation; Bola Tinubu, the party’s National Leader, and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, among others.
Therefore, it is not only unnecessary to smuggle Jonathan into APC for the 2023 presidential race, but also self-indicting and meaning that the ruling Party’s performance in office has been worse than an administration that Nigerians thoroughly rejected and voted for APC in 2015.
Again, Jonathan’s approval ratings have since gone down and the job description for a Nigerian President has evolved from what it was in 2015, when the former president lost to incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari.
Buhari and other APC leaders must know that if PDP sees enough reasons to field a viable candidate, the task of defeating a ticket bearing Jonathan’s name could be a done deal if efficient propaganda is whipped and delivered effectively.
Let’s just hope and pray that Mr. President and co are seeing the handwriting clearly engraved on the wall, with their naked eyes. Otherwise, they may wish to deploy the service of a binocular to come to their aid.