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Why Ex-President Goodluck Jonathan should not decamp to APC

The Nigeria political landscape is rife with speculations that a bloc within the ruling party the APC, is lobbying former President Goodluck Jonathan, to decamp to their party in order to become the APC presidential flag bearer for the upcoming 2023 general elections. On September 15, the Punch Newspaper reported that “The All Progressives Congress (APC) says former President Goodluck Jonathan will be given an automatic opportunity to contest for the 2023 presidency when he finally joins the ruling party. The National Secretary, APC Caretaker, and Extra-ordinary Convention Planning Committee, John Akpanudoedehe, said this while featuring as a guest on Channels Television’s Politics Today on Wednesday.”
As a statesman and considering the amiable reputation that Jonathan enjoy, not just in Nigeria but across all democratic space, this offer under the classical cost and benefits analysis may be too steep for the former President.
There are 5 reasons why the former head of state Jonathan, should eschew this proposition.
1. Self-Induced amnesia towards the shortfalls of past administration: Most Nigerians are found of making layman assessment, after few months had gone between the new and the immediate past administration, with some little consternation saying “we never had it so bad under the past administration like it is under this new administration.” This is as a result of ordinary Nigerians common amnesic approach to cause and effect in governmental affairs. One of the characteristics of government is continuity, the policies of past administrations – positive or negative – will ripple on present and future administrations until, in the case of negative actions, proper policy are implemented to arrest or eradicate such effects.
Therefore, it is only natural that the corrupt act of the past dispensation is still being felt under the current era in our national life as a nation. Former President Jonathan’s magnanimous composure when he conceded defeat in the 2019 general election remain one of the defining moment in Africa’s democratic history, it won him the plaudit of most Nigerians and secure his pedigree as a bona fide democrat internationally. Today as a global statesman, if ex-president Jonathan should return to power through the APC he risk the burden of shouldering the blame for the malfeasance of President Buhari administration. This would be ill-conceived, irrational and anathema to the benevolence image most Nigerians hold about the former head of state.
2. The poor state of nigeria’s economy under the present APC administration: According to a recent editorial by the Punch Newspaper, 97% of the revenue generated by the Federal Government goes to debt servicing. Though all our national debt were not incurred under President Muhammadu Buhari, the rate of borrowing as exponentially increase during his administration. According to Thisdaylive.com on 17 July, 2021 “The most recent statistics from the DMO, covering the first quarter of 2021, showed that the debt portfolio had increased to N33. 10 trillion. The depressing fact is that most of this country’s debts were incurred by the Federal Government within the last six years.”
If the Federal Government should persist with this borrowing trend, it portends a threat to the long term sustainability of Nigeria’s economy where our national debt could outrunning our GDP. It is an open secret that the Federal Government borrows in order to meet up with recurrent expenditures while our economy teeters on the brink of recession. There are reasons based on economic indices to believe the next administration would inherit this state of affairs for the foreseeable future, a topic opposition parties would exploit against the APC in 2023 general elections.
The implementation of the recently signed PIB, by President Buhari administration which entails an end to subsidy program in the petroleum sector is another time bomb waiting to explode as it would drastically reduce purchasing power of the citizens, while it would further condemn those at the rung of the economic ladder to absolute poverty. Even if the Buhari administration could managed to hold our national fabric together after implementation of this act, it could become an Achilles heel for APC in 2023 general election which democratic credence of ex-President cannot remedied.
3. Ethnicity and geopolitical equations: Nigeria geopolitics is based on the dynamism of its multi ethnic and multi confessional demography. To paraphrase Femi Adeshina, media aide to President Muhammadu Buhari, to be elected as President in Nigeria requires an alliance between at least four of Nigeria’s geopolitical regions. This succinctly capture the political chessboard of Nigeria, no region can singlehandedly elect a president in Nigeria, even if Jonathan is nominated as APC flag bearer by the Northern bloc it cannot be considered fait accompli, as other regional equations could still nip the ambition in the bud. President Muhammadu Buhari, a former military head of state who enjoy a cult following in the core north, only succeeded in becoming the president when he formed an alliance with the South West and the middle belt. Incumbency factor alone cannot guarantee success has Jonathan himself discovered in 2015 general elections.
If Jonathan candidacy is perceived as an albatross to the candidacy of the South West, this could change the political calculation of the region’s actors in a replay of 2015 general elections, invariably becoming another contest on the platform of ethno-religious sentiment, with pertinent issues such as national development taken a consequential backbench. This could also widened the gulf between various ethno-religious groups at a time Nigeria is desperately in need of national healing and unity, while former President Jonathan could be perceived as a malignant figure contrary to the sagacity he displayed in 2015 general elections, which endeared him to lots of Nigerians across geopolitical divide.
4. An Attempt to politically surcharge and polarize the Southerners: Some analyst have described the speculative candidacy of Jonathan under APC as an attempt by some Northern interest section to ensure the South did not enjoy power for more than 4 years before it would revert to the North. According to the Nigeria 1999 constitution, any individual citizen of Nigeria can only be elected as President for two terms of four years each. The former President, having held his first full term in office between 2011-2015 cannot hold office for more than one term or another 4 years under Nigeria 1999 constitution.
This would mean that if President Buhari should complete his two terms of 8 years in office and is succeeded by Jonathan, he would only hold office for his remaining constitutionally limited four years hence power would return to the North based on gentlemen’s agreement between the North and South to rotate power because Jonathan as a Southern have taken the turn of the region. This has been labeled as an attempt to limit the collective South to only 4 years in power.
While the South-South and South-East regions may accept this arrangement because the ex-President is from the former and claimed affinity with the later, this may lead to the opposition of some powerful power brokers in the South West who may frame this as a conspiracy against their region echoing the bitter politics of the first republic. With the implication being a decision to cast their lots with a northern candidate of an opposition party.
5. Effort to weaken the PDP in Southern regions and eliminate the threat posed by the former Head of State: The PDP have been described as a metaphorical religion in Southern part of Nigeria especially the South/South and South East. Apart from the fact that these two regions have always remain stronghold of the party since 1999, the party have also ruled Nigeria for 16 out of 22 years of the fourth republic with bloc votes from these two region. The PDP has produced three presidents in the process which includes Goodluck Jonathan. APC stalwarts might be trying to woo Jonathan as a means of dealing a strategic blow to PDP in its traditional stronghold, thereby weaken the party ahead of the 2023 general elections, as some supporters of the ex-President in the Southern geopolitical regions may also decamp with him to the APC. This however, does not guarantee Jonathan a sure ticket under APC, has this could also be a tactical political move by some members of APC to eliminate the threat Goodluck constitute to APC ambition in his region, because he still retain a lot of popularity in the geopolitical regions of the South/South and South East. There are friction between former CPC faction who are close to the presidency and former ACN faction within APC, there are also feelers that the CPC faction is try to neutralize the ACN faction, whose traditional stronghold is in the South West with the South south region which is the region of former President.
Nevertheless, there are no doubt that the PDP is a household party in South/South, if former President Jonathan decamped to APC he could become a general without an army as some former PDP leaders in the region who decamped to APC have discovered, to their dismay. During the 2019 general elections, electorates in the region voted against most heavyweight politicians and their candidates who had decamped to contest under APC, a repeat may occur if Jonathan decamp as voters in the regions might feel betrayed by his action and refused to support his ambition.
…Posterity And Former President Jonathan
As the 2023 general elections is fast approaching, the APC remain in a state of confusion with lots of intra-party bickering. With the party’s mismanagement of our economy and national faultlines, APC stalwarts have no talking points to convince the general masses.
For over six years in power, the APC have failed to deliver on its promised manifesto of ‘change’ and Nigerians have been at the receiving end. Under APC stewardship, Nigeria economy is in dire strait, her human development index has nosedive, corruption is on the rise, insecurity such as terrorism, wanton killings and kidnapping for ransom have become an industry, while educational centers in the northern part of the country continue to close there doors, as ‘repentant’ terrorists are faring better than their victims in IDP’s camps.
On 30 September 2021, according to guardian.ng Jonathan, reading a paper at the Defence College, said “From my experience in leading election observation missions to many countries, people hardly go to court to contest election results in countries where the processes are credible and transparent, because of the level of confidence in the system”. Obviously, the reverse is the case in Nigeria. From a humble beginning Jonathan rose to the position of number one citizen of our dear nation Nigeria; he came, he saw and he conquered. James Freeman Clarke said “a politician think of the next election, a statesman think of the future”. Jonathan quitted the stage while the ovation is loudest, now is not the time to be more concerned about power but about what posterity would say of him, having earned an image of a contented and magnanimous politician, a rare quality amongst political players in most parts of the world. SOURCED

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