Anti-corruption StrategyPolitical Affairs

Sorry, I don’t think Jonathan is coming, By Fredrick Nwabufo

Second chances. Not everyone deserves them. What will former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan (GEJ) do differently if by the contrivance of fate, he runs for presidential office and gets elected in 2023? I think the tragedies of the past are better left as legends and not reprised. The past should stay in the past. There is no nostalgia from a time corruption ruled irrepressibly in the land, infrastructure decrepit, the national treasury pillaged and impunity triumphed over the rule of law.

On Tuesday, a federal high court in Plateau state convicted Sarah Ochekpe, former minister of water resources under Jonathan, of fraud.

According to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ochekpe and her accomplices were convicted and sentenced to six years imprisonment each by Justice H M Kurya of the federal high court, on an amended three-count charge of conspiracy and money laundering.

They were said to have received the sum of N450 million from Fidelity Bank Plc through cash and wire transfer by some oil companies and Diezani Alison-Madueke, former minister of petroleum resources, to influence the outcome of the 2015 presidential election.

The anti-graft agency said investigation showed that on March 26, 2015, the sum of N450 million was withdrawn from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) by Fidelity Bank Plc, and handed over to the convicts in cash after they signed for collection.

Can you fathom this prodigious larceny? Public funds withdrawn directly from the CBN and handed over to government underlings for very questionable reasons. Not for any project that will be of benefit to Nigerians but for the personal furnishment of those in government.

Will Nigerians want to go back to such a time when grand-scale purloining – according to the revelations by the EFCC – was the praxis of governance? I do not think so.

The speculation about Jonathan running for president in 2023 was initially considered the stuff of pub gossip, but this supposition has become rife and taking on a life of its own. In 2020, members of the APC Governors’ Forum visited Jonathan at his residence in Abuja. There have been subsequent meetings of the same character and agenda afterwards.

The governors, who are the principal decision makers of the APC, are alleged to be courting Jonathan to join the APC and fly the party’s flag in the 2023 presidential election. The reported reason for this sudden dalliance with the former president whom some of these party leaders fought viciously in 2015 is extraordinarily facile.  Since Jonathan has served a four-year term as president, he is only eligible to serve for another four years — if he runs and wins. It then means power will orbit from the south to the north in a shorter time than if a ‘’freshman’’ becomes president in 2023.

This sort of political mentation is absurd. It is disturbing that those scheming for, campaigning for and even considering GEJ’s ‘second coming’ are not doing it based on his performance as president, but on some parochial, native and crude permutation and reasons.

It is insulting to the sensibilities of Nigerians that this is even up for debate. Well, former President Jonathan says he is not interested in running for president again – he said so in 2020. But a lot of wind has gone under the sails between then and now. Different support groups calling for a return of Jonathan in 2023 have emerged and media campaigns to engineer the needed mood for a ‘’Jonathan reload’’ have also been launched. Where there is smoke, there is fire.

On Monday, a group known as the Citizens Network for Peace and Development (CNPD) asked President Muhammadu Buhari to support Jonathan for presidency in 2023.

Okorie Raphael, CNPD national coordinator, said a Jonathan presidency will build on the achievements of the Buhari administration. He said: ‘’For President Goodluck Jonathan he has shown that the interest of Nigeria comes first. This was demonstrated by his actions during and in the aftermath of the 2015 Elections, specifically the historic phone call he made to President Muhammadu Buhari. He has indeed proven to be a peacemaker and patriotic. He epitomises a true defender of democracy.”

Buhari is said to be tepid about supporting Jonathan, but some northern governors are reportedly scheming to have him run.

However, I want to take the former president by his word – that he is not coming back.

I believe it will be a terrible gamble for any political party to hand the presidential ticket to Jonathan. How do you market a candidate a multitude of Nigerians rejected in 2015? What has changed? Have the foibles and latent weaknesses evaporated? When he had the chance what did he do with it? And should we be looking to the past instead of the future?

‘Jonathan is coming’ is all fairy tale and noise. Jonathan knows he does not stand a chance, and he knows he is not ‘coming’.

By Fredrick Nwabufo; Nwabufo aka Mr OneNigeria is writer and journalist.

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