This week, former President Goodluck Jonathan and his camp made it appear as though we miss the man so much, when in truth, we’d rather move on and pray we get it right someday in the future. This nation can’t keep returning to its vomit.
Asked if there was any truth to reports that Jonathan is under pressure to contest the presidency one last time in 2023, the former president’s spokesperson, Ikechukwu Eze said “there is nothing like that. The former president has not made any comments nor spoken to anyone on the coming elections.
“He is busy concentrating on his foundation, The Goodluck Jonathan Foundation (GJF), and its work of promoting peace, sustainable democracy and youth empowerment in Africa.
“If you check online, you will discover that a story with a similar headline had been published in the past by few shady online sources.
Goodluck Jonathan on Al Jazeera before the 2015 election he lost (Punch)
“The last time this same story circulated online was before the 2019 presidential elections. It has now come up again.
“The good thing is that Nigerians already know this to be fake. That is why Nigerian newspapers and serious online news media will not publish such falsehood.”
You could have sworn that stories bordering on Jonathan taking one more shot at the presidency and the rebuttals that have followed from his team, emanated from his camp. You can almost swear that no one is pressuring Jonathan to contest the presidency in 2023.
Politicians do this all the time as a way of testing the waters and as a way of gauging the mood of the public on a subject. It’s one of the oldest tricks in the book.
Jonathan left Aso Rock in 2015 unceremoniously, after being flogged in an election he organised and after successfully frittering most of his goodwill, one misstep at a time. Of course he’ll love to come back to prove a point because the constitution tells him he’s due another term.
Out of office, he’s been on a charm offensive across the continent, enjoying his new found reputation as a statesman and democrat, he’s also aimed potshots at the United States and Barack Obama for not fancying him to see Nigeria through another four years back in 2015 and he’s just decided who governs his state of Bayelsa in one of the clearest examples of anti-party activity since Nigeria’s return to civil rule.
Former President Goodluck Jonathan (left) and President Muhammadu Buhari during a recent villa visit [Twitter/@BashirAhmaad]
You can tell that the man has been deliberately putting himself in the shop window ahead of another election season. The odds are also in his favour, he may think: there is every likelihood that the two dominant political parties in the land will pick their presidential flag-bearers from the south of Nigeria where Jonathan hails from. Nigerians also have a thing for former leaders, quickly forgive them of their sins and fuelled by nostalgia, usher them back into offices they once flunked at. The ‘Jonathan for President 2023’ train may well have taken off while you slept.
But it will also be a tall order for the genially unsophisticated 62-year-old to get his name on the ballot in 2023. The PDP would be loathe to hand its ticket to a former incumbent president who lost his first real election battle after he was handed the 2011 presidency on a platter. For all his time in different power corridors in different capacities, Jonathan can be unforgivably politically naive. His performance in office from 2010 to 2015 was also everything but stellar.
His handling of the Chibok girls abduction, his apparent cluelessness on tackling terrorism and security challenges, his apparent unwillingness to fix the nation’s comatose infrastructure and the reign of corruption that festered on his watch will always stand in the way of any Jonathan comeback–romantic as the idea of his return may sound now.
President Goodluck Jonathan and former South African President, Jacob Zuma before the 2015 vote (Punch)
Besides, in 2023, the political current in the nation may not favour a ‘has-been.’ Jonathan and his ilk belong in a past we definitely would be foolish to return to. Nigeria needs a clean break from recycled political leadership with its outdated ideas, beginning with the next elections.
Jonathan and his team would be best served perishing the thought of his return and concentrating on burnishing his reputation on the continent as a democrat who made a concession phone call to a victorious opponent, when he could have clung to power with every bowler hat in his wardrobe.
And then there’s also a Foundation to run. That’s a more laudable venture for Jonathan to pursue now and in the future.