In this interview with journalists, Chief Moses Essien, Akwa Ibom’s former Commissioner for Education, Director-General of Diplomatic Business Group, and the National Coordinator of Goodluck Jonathan Campaign Organisation spoke on issues about the 2023 general elections, especially the pressure by the North on ex-President Goodluck Jonathan to return to power in 2023. He explained why GEJ’s 2023 project is widely acceptable to various ethnic groups and regions in Nigeria, among other things. Excerpts:
Why do you think the North is rooting for former President Goodluck Jonathan to run for president in 2023?
The answer to that question is very straightforward. A good product often sells itself because it is attractive, naturally attracting patronage. That is what we are witnessing in the case of former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. Nigeria is standing on the brink of its unity and history. The country needs urgent rescue through a trustworthy, detribalised and sincere democratic leadership that rebuild national confidence and faith. That is what GEJ represents to this country. When you look at it from this common national denominator, you will discover that it is not just enough to say the North, but every segment of this country is hungry and anxious to have their beloved GEJ back to power once again. GEJ stands for equity and justice, so in his first tenure, we saw a democratic leadership that is the very definition of equitable political and economic governance. He was fair to all, and the North, in particular, was a huge beneficiary of GEJ’s inclusive governance. For instance, in education, which is central, GEJ left indelible footprints in northern Nigeria as president. I recall his establishment of Almajeri schools across 19 northern states. He planned to bring back over 10 million out-of-school children from the streets into the classroom. The purpose was to reduce illiteracy, add value to their quality of life through skill acquisition, and reduce insecurity in the region. In addition, GEJ established nine federal universities and ensured that every state in the North had a federal university. The people of northern Nigeria cannot forget GEJ in a hurry. Also, in sharing political offices, GEJ was very generous to the people of northern Nigeria that he had to remove NSA appointee from his place of origin to appoint a northerner. Throughout the presidency of GEJ, the North never complained of marginalization. The people of northern Nigeria believe strongly that GEJ is trustworthy and reliable any day.
In infrastructure, GEJ constructed 25,000 kilometres of roads in four years, with most of these federal roads delivered in northern Nigeria. In agriculture and health, GEJ made the North very proud of him. GEJ was able to contain terrorist groups in northern Nigeria, thereby preventing the type of massacre and bloodbath that is going on now in the region. The people of northern Nigeria will always root for GEJ anytime if it pleases him to indicate interest in the presidency once again.
Why should the South-South do only four years if Goodluck Jonathan is given a chance as the next president?
Constitutionally, GEJ can only be sworn into office two times, having been sworn in before as a democratically elected president for the first tenure of four years. He can only be sworn in for his last four years, but besides GEJ, the South-South is entitled to eight years.
Are there other South-South persons as qualified and widely accepted as Goodluck Jonathan?
Among all South-South persons, GEJ is the most reliable, dependable and credible person, having been tested and trusted over the remember we are talking about national interest. The larger interest, the country’s unity, is currently at stake as we head towards the 2023 general elections and the good people of this country are truly concerned. And you know trust is the hardest currency in a democratic leadership like Nigeria. In times like this, you don’t need guesswork. It’s good to be sure about your choice concerning the prevailing national exigency. That is why Nigerians want GEJ back. He has been tested and proven; no guesswork this time.
What’s the way forward now that the South-West is interested in producing the next president?
You will recall that the South-West has done eight years under the former President Olusegun Obasanjo. Now, the South-West holds the position of the Vice President close to another wight years in the person of Prof. Yemi Osinbajo. That is more than a fair share for the South-West alone in the presidency when other zones in the region have not enjoyed similar privileges. As long as the southern region is concerned, the South-West will be asking for too much to occupy the presidency this soon again.
Zoning will play a crucial role in the emergence of parties’ presidential flagbearers. All the parties are currently keeping everyone guessing as they head to their respective conventions. What do you think?
Naturally, the new officers of the party will emerge on a zonal basis where the various offices have been zoned. However, it is left for delegates to the convention to determine through transparent, democratic the process and how party officials will emerge. I am aware that the party’s national chairmanship has been zoned to the North-Central, which confirmed that the party has officially zoned its presidency to the southern region of the country.
Is there any sincerity about rooting for Goodluck Jonathan?
Like I said earlier, the South-West has no basis and justification for seeking the presidency this time around, having had more than their fair share under former President Obasanjo and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo from the same zone. The nation’s current mood requires a leader that all geopolitical zones in the country can trust.
Nigeria is witnessing its most trying times since after the Civil War. The unity of the country has come under intense question. Most ethnic nationalities have continued to interrogate the essence of our continued coexistence as a nation due to increased feelings of marginalization, domination, oppression, and perceived targeted killings. The only man, Nigeria and friends of Nigeria, can truly turn to in 2023 to rescue the country is GEJ. He is one leader who is the rallying point for all geopolitical zones in the country today. Both the North and South trust GEJ absolutely. He is a leader that all sections of the country can listen to and talk to with an open mind. GEJ is known for his impartiality, fairness to all, accommodation of both the oppressor and the oppressed; he is not known to say one thing and do another or engage in deception and intrigues. These are just a few of the credentials required of the next president that will keep the country united and strong again. To this extent, I do not doubt that there is absolute sincerity in rooting for GEJ.
Do you think the PDP should also look for a southern candidate?
The PDP has no choice but to zone its presidency in 2023 to the South after the North has done eight years. It is unthinkable that the PDP will do otherwise.
It appears as if there’s no sign of seriousness in the South-South for Goodluck Jonathan for 2023. Why?
It is not true that there is no sign of seriousness in the South-South for GEJ. I can tell you that intense mobilization has been going on in the South-South and across the country for the return of GEJ to Aso Villa come 2023. Granting you this interview is one of those sensitization and mobilization efforts. I can assure you that Nigerians from the North and South will go in one direction for GEJ as soon as he formally declares his interest in the presidential race.
How will Goodluck Jonathan’s return benefit Nigeria as a country?
GEJ’s return will be the best thing to happen to Nigeria. First, he will return Nigeria to the path of peace; mutual suspicion will cease; feeling of ethnic domination will drastically reduce; there will be a sense of inclusiveness and belonging by all ethnic nationalities because GEJ is known for fairness, justice and equity in the distribution of political offices and amenities. Insecurity will drastically reduce if not eliminated.
Why did APC suddenly decide to go for Goodluck Jonathan when there are other potential aspirants?
As I said earlier, GEJ is the only Nigerian leader that all ethnic nationalities can trust and speak very frankly without fear of betrayal. GEJ is the highest and most valuable political asset in Nigeria today. His credentials are loaded with an unquestionable capacity of a world-class democrat, lover of peace, an advocate of justice for all, promoter of human rights and lives, tested and trusted nationalist. These rare qualities make him a political jewel of inestimable value to any sensible political party. The choice of GEJ is the best decision APC has made to reinvent itself to win back the confidence of the masses and earn the international community’s trust. GEJ is the only leader who can win the presidential election for APC in 2023. APC is fully aware that the South-East, South-West, South-South will effortlessly accept to vote GEJ than any other candidate from the South. Since APC is a dominant party in the North, winning the presidential election through GEJ will be a foregone conclusion. APC fully understands that GEJ is the highest and most valuable political asset to deliver the party in 2023.
What roles are you playing in the South-South for Jonathan?
I am the national coordinator of the Goodluck Jonathan Campaign Organisation. We have been mobilising in the six states of the South-South and across Nigeria. So far, we have witnessed so much impatience from Nigerians who are eager to have GEJ return to Aso Rock in 2023. The mention of GEJ’s return to power has been greeted with immense enthusiasm. The youths admit they can’t wait to bring GEJ back as president. They insisted that if GEJ was president of Nigeria, the shooting of innocent Nigerian youths at Lekki Toll Gate would not have happened. They commended GEJ so highly and remembered all his lofty programmes and the hand of friendship he extended to Nigerian youths. Nigerian youths acknowledged GEJ as the most youth-friendly president in the history of Nigeria. They repeatedly said they would get their PVC to vote for GEJ in the coming presidential election. Our organisation is intensifying the mobilisation of Nigerian youths, and we will not stop until GEJ is back in Aso Rock in 2023.