It was on January 7, 2022 that a 2023 presidential election campaign poster of Goodluck Jonathan first appeared online with the inscription “GEJ Is Coming Back” and the ex-president’s image was seen posing in deep thought.
Earlier this week, #GEJIsComingBack trended on Twitter and many Nigerians reacted differently to the development. While many said he shouldn’t be allowed to return, some social media users argued that he should be allowed to run a second term.
POLITICS NIGERIA understands that the development in the last two months has, however, lent credence to speculations that Jonathan is being prepared to take over from President Muhammadu Buhari in 2023.
“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.”
“We call on former President Jonathan to once again avail himself to be of service to the country he loves so much! He should bear in mind the popular Latin saying; Vox populi, vox Dei! The voice of the people is the voice of God! This is a rescue mission you cannot refuse to lead sir,” a group known as the Citizens Network for Peace and Development (CNPD) recently said.
Before now, the body language of Goodluck Jonathan shows that he has a secret marriage with the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC and now that the party has zoned its chairmanship to the north, the south will have to produce its presidential candidate.
For former Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on the House of Representatives, Abdulrahman Sumaila, the move to make former Jonathan the presidential candidate of APC will be a major disservice capable of ruining the party’s chance in 2023.
Regardless of the party he contests under, he has bigwigs like Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and Atiku Abubakar to challenge. As there is increased clamour for power to shift to the South, Buhari’s close loyalists told POLITICS NIGERIA that the president believes that Jonathan would be harmless to him and for that reason, he should be considered if power is shifting to the South.
“Buhari and his northern brothers believe that Jonathan is not going to be a threat. For him to have handed over peacefully in 2015, he won many northerners’ hearts. The permutation is that they want power to return to the north by 2027,” a top member of the APC who does not want his name in print said.
In a bid to further show the northern interest in Jonathan’s candidacy, the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) recently said in a news report that it regretted that it got rid of Jonathan in 2015.
While all of these continue to trigger public outrage, Jonathan has kept a low profile except for his role in ensuring that the Malian military junta returned the country back to democratic leaders. This, as the ECOWAS Special Envoy and Mediator for Mali, has made him visible within the sub-region.
Aside from this, he has been seen working closely with Buhari and visiting the villa more frequently. Even as the election is fast approaching, the ex-president said he is not under any pressure to contest.
He, however, did not confirm nor deny his interest to contest. Jonathan keeps everyone guessing.
But his close associate, Dikivie Ikiogha, one of the coordinators of “South-South Presidency 2023”, a bi-partisan group canvassing for a South-South presidency in 2023 said those seeking to draft Jonathan into the race are doing so, because he is the best suited for the job.
“We have met him and he said it was a good idea because every zone has people to lead the country. However, he did not say he accepted and that he wanted to contest. Anyway, he wouldn’t have told us that. Even if he is not willing to contest, the people will call on him to come out. We have been having a lot of calls from the North. It is now I know that Jonathan is a hot cake in Nigeria,” Ikiogha recently said.
The former president’s spokesperson, Ikechukwu Eze, did not respond to calls and text messages on the step Jonathan plans to take ahead of the 2023 presidential election.