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Don’t Defect To APC, Dr. Jonathan


For the sake of openness and transparency, let me start by stating that I am a bona fide and registered member of the APC and a strong supporter of President Muhammadu Buhari and his administration. I am one of the leaders of our great party in Akwa Ibom State, but I am not too beclouded by partisan interests to discuss national issues objectively. I have been quite distressed to learn that former President Goodluck Jonathan is considering defecting to APC. I don’t know how credible this story is, but the persistence of the rumour and Dr. Jonathan’s unwillingness to issue a categorical denial have fueled further speculations of his intention to join the governing party.

The recent defection of Senator Stella Oduah, from Anambra State, who was his Minister of Aviation to APC and the recent flirtatious activities of Femi Fani Kayode around some APC chieftains have created the impressions that they are the advance party of the former president in APC. FFK has been a brutal critic and abuser of the President, Vice President, Bola Ahmed Tinubu and indeed APC itself since Dr Jonathan left office in 2015. Initially, it seemed like FFK was mortally and irreparably hurt by the defeat, but in recent times, he too has been hobnobbing with certain APC leaderrs, fueling speculations that he’s soon joining the party.

I concede that many Nigerian politicians are fair weather folks who indulge in bread and butter politics. They lack ideological DNA, but only flock to whatever government is in power. For this reason, I will like to advise former President Jonathan to stay put in PDP, no matter the pressure on him to defect. He should resist the urge to join the growing tribe of Bread and Butter politicians by joining the APC. His reputation and respect would be greatly demeaned if Jonathan defects. In the first instance, the ‘’owners’’ of APC will never give him a presidential ticket.

So, of what benefits would his defection serve? Privately, APC members, including the President himself, consider the Jonathan presidency as a woeful period. Even with crude oil selling at above $100 per barrel during most of his five-year tenure, Jonathan failed to achieve much. Rather, there was massive looting of the treasury and round tripping of foreign exchange in the system. The massive looting of the CBN vaults in the last days of his tenure to fund the 2015 elections remains a major stain on his reputation. Many people in my party do not have much respect for the former Nigerian leader.

I insist that President Jonathan will better maintain whatever remains of his prestige as a former Nigerian leader by continuing to serve the nation and our continent as a statesman. In fact, he should retire from partisan politics and focus his time and energy on peace building activities across the continent. I must commend him for what he has been doing in Mali as the Special Envoy of ECOWAS. If at 63, Dr Jonathan might feel too young to resist the excitements of partisan politics, he will do well to restrict such endeavours to the PDP. But if the former President yields to the soothing cajoling from APC chieftains and defect, he will regret it. PDP members will pour all sorts of insults and abuses on him.

They will throw the kitchen sink at him, including possibly alleging that he defected to avoid EFCC prosecution. They will then mention all the foibles associated with him. Don’t forget they have the dossiers. Yet APC will never give him the presidential ticket he is looking so eagerly for. Our party has its own tendencies and intrigues, just like every political platform, mind you. How does Jonathan expect to move into a party filled with political engine blocks like Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Rotimi Amaechi, Babatunde Fashola, Godswill Akpabio, Yemi Osinbajo and collect a presidential ticket at the drop of the hat? My suspicion is that there are people in APC who just want to lure Dr. Jonathan out for the final humiliation. It is up to him to be wise.

All over the world, former presidents keep away from partisan politics and maintain a dignified presence in the affairs of their nation. They play fatherly roles and use back channels to offer advice to the government in power. They also get involved in charity work and international engagements. Dr. Jonathan should follow this pattern. First, he should continue his commendable work as the initiator of West African Elder statesmen Forum on which he is working with former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. That forum will help in stabilizing fragile political situations in some of countries in the sub region.

Two, President Jonathan should raise money to build his Presidential Library Complex. It is a tradition in the US for former Presidents to build their libraries. They serve as major research, civic and educational facilities for the communities and other citizens. Former President Obasanjo, ever so filled with good ideas, has built his own Presidential Library complex in Abeokuta. Recall that when he left office as a military Head of State in 1979, Obasanjo set up African Leadership Forum which has been involved in leadership development, capacity building, enterprise building and economic empowerment since 1988. I am therefore mortified that instead of thinking about his legacy in similar areas, Goodluck Jonathan, a Ph.D holder and former university professor, is flirting with the idea of moving from one political party to another. Who advises him on matters personal brand positioning, please?

Another preoccupation for Dr Jonathan should be the lecture circuit. He should travel the world and around the country delivering lectures on contemporary issues like Climate Change and Dwindling Resources in Africa; Nigeria and the Challenge of Crypto currencies; the Clash of Ancient Cattle Routes with Nigeria’s Chequered Quest for Modernity, among other issues. Jonathan can also take up international assignments in the UN system, leading peace missions and other duties. He should spend his time coaching African leaders on the importance of sticking to Constitutional term limits. There are indeed so many things our former leader could do to help humanity beyond partisan politics.

Even in the political front, Dr Jonathan could help to rebuild his party. With another election cycle looming, the PDP has been thrown into a tumultuous crisis. Gov. Nyesom Wike is fighting tooth and nail to control the Party so that he could hand over the Presidential ticket to his good friend, Aminu Tambuwal. Wike is looking to be Tambuwal’s running mate, and to achieve that, the Rivers governor is bulldozing all obstacles on his path. The PDP is being suffocated to death as more and more of its members are moving into the governing APC. I am half heartedly excited that my party is growing in leaps and bounds.

But I am also conscious of the fact that our democracy will never be strong and healthy if we end up with one major Party like the ZANU-PF of Zimbabwe or ANC of South Africa. Their history is different from ours. Our country needs two or more strong parties to give the citizens alternative platforms and the governing party a good competition. A strong opposition party serves as a good check to the excesses of those in power. This is why I don’t want the PDP to die; rather Dr. Jonathan should stay back in his party and provide a veritable rallying point for its resuscitation.

*First published in September 2021

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