The attack on former President Jonathan is unfortunate, writes Bonaventure Melah

I read with disbelief and shock an article written by Ike Abonyi, media adviser to the national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and published on Thursday, February 28, 2021.

I waited for these few days before responding to the publication to see whether Uche Secondus would reprimand Ike Abonyi for the disrespectful write-up. His failure to do so is a confirmation that the PDP national chairman endorsed the publication.

It is surprising that Abonyi could summon such a negative audacity to publicly attack no less a personality than Dr. Goodluck Jonathan who apart from being a former president produced by the PDP, is still the leader of the party, going by PDP books.

In the article titled: “Jonathan’s 2023 Selfish Gamble,” Abonyi expressed disappointment that Dr. Jonathan had not come out to tell Nigerians and the world that he has no interest in returning to the office as president of Nigeria as well as rebuke those calling on him to contest the 2023 presidential election.

Although Abonyi grudgingly acknowledged that Jonathan has become a global icon and international statesman as well as the huge sacrifices he made in 2015 when he conceded defeat and handed over power to then Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (now President and Commander-in-Chief), he wondered why the former president is now romancing with northerners who he said ganged up against him in 2015.

“Some water may have passed under the bridge for the heavy twist in the tongue which ostensibly is intended to appeal to certain northern sentiments. Something must have happened for him to be dining with the same people who ganged up and threw him away; could it be that he is the man who will do their bidding now or they are setting him up for the usual use and dump?” he had questioned.

Let me say that I do not work for Dr. Goodluck Jonathan. I am responding to this write-up as a Nigerian who loves and admires the former president who is also my hero. Knowing Dr. Jonathan, it would not be surprising if he told his media aides not to respond to any of such attacks. But since I don’t work for or with him, I do not bear the burden of waiting to get clearance before responding to anyone that attacked the former president, as I would continue to do, henceforth.

In my latest book titled “Dear President Goodluck Jonathan (An Open Letter)” which was presented to the public on December 15, 2020 at the International Conference Centre Abuja, I suggested that it would be good if Jonathan should play less politics in Nigeria to enable him concentrate on waging peace across countries as well as helping those in need through his Goodluck Jonathan Foundation as he is currently doing. But those were what they should be – suggestions. Because as I also stated in the book, Jonathan has the right to pursue his destiny. Therefore, if God says Jonathan’s assignment for Nigeria is not yet completed, not even Jonathan himself can stop the wave. Otherwise, he would be given the biblical Jonah treatment and sent to Nineveh through the belly of a fish.

One question I would like to ask Abonyi at this point is – what right does he have to direct Jonathan to rebuke those calling on him to contest the 2023 presidential election when the former president has equally ignored those that have called him all manner of insulting names over the years? If Abonyi does not want to hear the name “Jonathan,” when it comes to politics, there are millions of people, including highly placed citizens that believe in the former president’s capacity to reconcile the country as well as take it to a new height based on his experience on the job as well as those he has garnered since 2015 when he left office.

Having said that, many politically enlightened Nigerians know why Abonyi cannot be comfortable with any person asking Jonathan to run for president in 2023, especially under the PDP umbrella.

Going through Abonyi’s piece, one would easily see the level of frustration and outright anger that motivated the vituperations. As the Managing Editor of Daily Times newspaper then, I personally travelled to Port Harcourt in 2018 to cover the PDP National Convention. We heard stories of the huge financial inducement that went the way of some top PDP leaders by particular aspirants seeking to fly the party’s presidential flag for the 2019 election. Now that another party convention is not too far away, it is very clear that some people in the party desperately want to fence some aspirants out in order to narrow the race to their target money-bag(s) aspirants. They are therefore applying blackmail and other dubious tactics to harass and intimate decent politicians out of the race – the overall aim is to make the final financial kill before leaving the office, thereafter. We know all these.

In the article, Abonyi attempted to pitch the South East against Jonathan by saying the former president should have outrightly said that he will not run in 2023 and that the office should be left for the zone that has not produced a president. This is coming from the mouth or brain of the same Abonyi, whose leaders have refused to respond to the call to declare that the PDP presidential ticket would go to the South, the reason why Governor David Umahi has decamped to the All Progressives Congress (APC) with speculations that more South East governors would follow.

Maybe Abonyi has not heard. Let me therefore tell him what people are saying- that the PDP leadership is not interested in winning elections, but are more concerned with what would enter their individual pockets from conventions and state primaries.

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