The Director-General of the Progressives Governors’ Forum (PGF), Dr Salihu Lukman, has cautioned former President Goodluck Jonathan against vying for the presidency in 2023, following widespread speculations that the Bayelsa-born politician was being offered a ticket for the nation’s topmost job.
Newsmen report that in a piece he wrote entitled, “APC’s High-Profile Membership Recruitment and Issues for 2023,” Lukman argued that Jonathan stood the risk of tarnishing his hard-earned reputation if the bid fails.
Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State and Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State, who recently dumped the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) for the All Progressives Congress (APC), are speculated to be interested in the race.
Since the 2019 gubernatorial election in Bayelsa when APC leaders reportedly secured Jonathan’s support for their then-candidate, Chief David Lyon, there have been insinuations that the Nigerian ex-leader would be pitching his tent with the ruling party at the centre.
Some have even claimed that as part of the deal, Jonathan was offered the presidential ticket for 2023.
Amid the conjectures, Secretary of the APC Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CEPC), Senator John Akpanudoedehe, stated that new members were entitled to vie for political offices of their choice.
The PGF DG, who applauded the party’s hunting of top shots, wondered why Jonathan’s reported move was being “reduced to the issue of contesting the election.”
He maintained that the likes of the former President deserve to be given moral leadership roles in the APC Board of Trustees in the event of him joining the party.
Lukman said: “Assuming someone like ex-President Jonathan agrees to join the APC and he fails to emerge as the Presidential Candidate of the party for the 2023 election, what will happen to him?
“As Nigerians, we must begin to take steps to protect our leaders. As APC members, we campaigned against former President Jonathan in 2015. As President, the ex-leader made every effort to block the emergence of APC in 2013.
“But those should not be the reference point. The reference point should be the historic decision of former President Jonathan to concede defeat in 2015 even before the final votes were counted.
“With that, former President Jonathan ranked himself as one of those who fought and defended Nigeria’s democracy. On no account, therefore, should any political party be allowed to push former President Jonathan to diminish his stature, as either an aspirant or a candidate for any office. Doing so will mean that we want him to gamble away all his legendary achievements.”