The Pan-Niger Delta Forum has said former President Goodluck Jonathan has not informed it if he is contesting the 2023 presidential election or not.
The group’s spokesperson, Ken Robinson, said in an interview that PANDEF’s view was in line with the stand of the Southern and Middle-Belt Forum leaders that the next President should come from the South-East.
He stated, “On this political matter, the presidency of 2023, PANDEF, together with the Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Afenifere and the Middle Belt Forum, has taken a position, which is that power should shift to southern Nigeria.
“We have gone further to say it should move preferably to the South-East. That is our position. In the interest of fairness, equity and justice, and giving a sense of belonging to all parts of Nigeria, the South-East should be considered to produce the next President. That is the position of PANDEF.
“However, the leaders of these groups, Chief Ayo Adebanjo (Afenifere), Prof George Obiozor (Ohanaeze Ndigbo), Dr Birtus Porgus (Middle Belt Forum) and Chief Edwin Clark (PANDEF), have made these points clear. We remain in that position.”
Commenting on the rumours that Jonathan had decided to run for the highest seat in the country on the platform of the ruling All Progressive Congress, Robinson said, “He has not told PANDEF whether or not he wants to contest. So, these things are all rumours.
“If former President Goodluck Jonathan is approached, and as the rumours have it, decides to become the flag bearer of any of the political parties; when they conduct their primaries, we will sit down and evaluate the choices that have been presented before us and choose the best.
“Politics is dynamic. The delegates of the political parties and the parties themselves have their ways of throwing up whoever they want to, but what we are saying is to speak to the conscience of Nigerians and the political stakeholders and leaders of the political parties.
“We know that individuals have their fundamental rights to aspire to any office, but those individual rights are intertwined. We are in a country, and one’s rights may infringe on the rights of other Nigerians.”
Meanwhile, the Atiku Support Organisation has called on Jonathan to “maintain his position of respect and integrity as an elder statesman and not allow the failed APC government of Major General Muhammdu Buhari (retd.), to drag him through the mud.”
“Nigerians are tired of the APC. Not even a saint can save the APC from defeat in 2023. It’s time for Alhaji Atiku Abubakar to save Nigeria and build a modern and prosperous society. We called on Dr Goodluck Jonathan to support Atiku Abubakar to rebuild Nigeria,” the group’s spokesman, Dr Victor Moses, stated.
Also, the National Publicity Secretary for the African Action Congress, Mr Femi Adeyeye, said, “Doing the same thing and expecting a different result is synonymous with foolishness.”
In a chat with Sunday PUNCH, Adeyeye said, “We need to tread a new path now. We said it before any other person or group of persons that GEJ would come to the APC and would declare. His likelihood of emerging is also very high because the cabal that is destroying Nigeria is finding him the best fit for the work to destroy more.
“To the disappointment of the cabal, GEJ’s aspiration to come back and contest is suffering setbacks. Among the people, it is infamous and unpopular. But it should not be our job to psycho-analyse them for they are one and the same.”
He has every right to contest –INC
However, the Ijaw National Congress said Jonathan was qualified to contest the presidency and should not be denied his right to do so on any basis.
The group’s National Publicity Secretary, Ezonebi Oyakemeagbegha, in an interview with Sunday PUNCH, said, “Jonathan is qualified to contest. I don’t know the basis on which the people who have said he is not qualified are speaking, but his presidency will be for the country and not just for the Ijaw people.
“I am not a lawyer, but I know that he is qualified to contest. Of course, for us at the INC, we hope that he will contest. There is no permanent enemy or friend in politics. Many people have defected to other parties and nothing happened.
“You will see that the former Senate President, Bukola Saraki, moved to another party. Other top politicians like the former governor of Akwa Ibom State, Senator Godswill Akpabio; former governor of Rivers State and Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, others, have also moved to other parties.”
“If you see that it is better to use another political platform to achieve an aim, it is your choice. If he moves to the APC, there is no crime in it.”
Asked whether Jonathan had informed the INC of his decision to run for office, Oyakemeagbegha said, “He is still consulting; he has not come to inform us of his decision to contest.”