The seeming ding-dong move to draft former President Goodluck Jonathan into the 2023 presidential race on the platform of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), is threatening to ignite a bitter ethnic acrimony between the Ijaw and the Igbo.
Ohanaeze Ndigbo, the apex socio-cultural organization of the Igbo people of Eastern Nigeria, the hotbed of the undying Biafra agitation, is worried about the purchase of APC presidential nomination form for Jonathan by a coalition of interest groups that include the Fulani. Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State has is already expressing concern over the kind of messages APC will be telling the citizenry with Jonathan as its presidential candidate. Umahi is also in the race to become Nigeria’s president next year. Disturbingly, Jonathan is yet to join the APC formally. Bayelsa State Chairman of APC, Dr. Dennis Otiotio, says the ex-president is not yet a member of the party. According to him, ‘’APC in Bayelsa is not aware of Jonathan’s membership. “The former president is not yet a registered member of APC. He is free to join any party of his choice. We are open and willing to receive him into our fold, as a political party desirous of winning elections, the only way to go is by admitting people into the party.” However, a support group on Monday in Abuja said it purchased the APC presidential nomination and expression of interest forms for him to contest the 2023 elections on the APC platform. But, Jonathan’s Media Adviser, Ikechukwu Eze, in a statement on Monday night claimed that the former president dissociated himself from the move, adding that Jonathan did not authorise purchase of the form. ‘’Jonathan was not consulted on the procurement of the APC nomination in his name and rejected it’’, the statement said. Ohanaeze in a statement by its Secretary-General, Okechukwu Isiguzoro, is playing on the sacrifices Ndigbo made for Jonathan in the past, stressing, ‘’Ndigbo gave the former President the highest support while he held sway, which earned them the 5 percent togga from the incumbent President Buhari. “There is no going back to the 2023 Nigerian President of Igbo stock and anything contrary to it amounts to a denial of equity, fairness, and justice. There are frantic endeavors and backstage activities to pitch Ijaws against Ndigbo, a repeat of 1966 gimmicks aimed at the resuscitating the age-long enmity between the two ethnic groups of old Eastern region, which was demolished in 2011 when Igbos adopted Jonathan as our own. “We expect Goodluck Jonathan as an elder statesman and African iconic personality to endorse an Igbo Presidency from the seven Igbo speaking States, including Anioma (in Delta) or Ikwerre (in Rivers). He should not forget that the South-East and the Igbos were his citadel of support in 2011 and 2015. ‘’We became marginalized and were regarded as 5 percent because of the support we gave Jonathan in 2015. This should be a payback time for the sacrifices we made for the Ijaws and Jonathan in particular”. Governor Umahi was however speaking while responding to questions from State House reporters on Tuesday after meeting with President Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja. He is wondering how APC will reconcile its policies and promises with those of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) under which Jonathan was president. He is expressing worry that it will be difficult for the ruling party to campaign with Jonathan as its presidential candidate, adding that his entrance into the race for the APC presidential ticket will be another wonder of the world. Though Umahi said if the former president joined the ruling party it would be a material for Guinness Book of Records, he, however, expressed doubt about the authenticity of the development because of series of denials regarding the former president’s rumoured move to APC. “Jonathan is my father and God used him and the wife to make me a governor of the state and so, anybody who has done anything for me, I’ve always remained very grateful to such person and I will continue to be very grateful to him, the wife for being available and my destiny helper, to achieve that feat. “Probably if that miracle did not take place, then the miracles that happened in Ebonyi State, in terms of total evolution and transformation wouldn’t have taken place. So, he’s a man we can’t forget, just like Sani Abacha, who created the state and Mr. President. Of course, we’ve named the airport after him, we’ve named the light tunnel after him, we’ve named the Presidential Lodge after him. “Good intention that we don’t forget people who have helped us, but on the question of joining, I may not say much about that because I’ve seen a lot of write ups, denials, but if he decides to join and to run, it will, for me, become one of the wonders in this century. “The reason is that if you go and see the campaign programs of APC and you now ask President Jonathan to come and run, I don’t know what will be our campaign promises and what will be the stories we’ll be telling Nigerians. I believe strongly that he was not aware of the forms and I want to believe that people that are mischievous would have bought the forms to embarrass him. “But from what I read, he has quickly distanced himself from that. But like I said, if that is not the case, then the Guinness Book of Records is not totally filled up”, Umahi said. Though Jonathan has not yielded yet to pressure on him to run, some Ijaw political foot soldiers are already saying that Igbo people should support their son rather than seek to generate bad blood.
This article was originally published on Nigeria News