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2023: Fielding Jonathan for election will diminish his stature – Lukman

Salihu Lukman, director-general of the Progressive Governors Forum (PGF), has said that on no account should any political party be allowed to push former President Goodluck Jonathan to diminish his stature, either as an aspirant or a candidate for any office.

There have been permutations ahead of the 2023 general election that Jonathan who had conceded defeat to President Muhamadu Buhari in 2015 is being wooed to contest the 2023 presidency under the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

But Lukman in a statement on Sunday argued that doing so by APC or any other political would mean that they want him to gamble away all his legendary achievements.

He said by conceding defeat in 2015 even before the final votes were counted, former President Jonathan ranked himself as one of those who fought and defended Nigeria’s democracy.

“Since the 2019 Bayelsa State Governorship election, when APC leaders met former President Goodluck Jonathan to lobby support for APC candidate, David Lyon, there have been speculations that he (former President Jonathan) will also be joining the APC.

“Some have even alleged that as part of the negotiation, former President Jonathan has already been offered the APC Presidential ticket for 2023. Assuming someone like former 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?

Read Also: ‘APC Governors’ visit to Jonathan affirms Nigeria is better with PDP’

“It is sad enough that PDP leaders, being who they are, don’t recognise and respect former President Jonathan’s deservedly political stature. No doubt, every speculation about the possibility of former President Jonathan joining the APC has to do with the reality of being unappreciated by PDP leadership,” Lukman said.

According to him, “Negotiating to bring him into APC should not be based on aspiring for any office. It must be recognised that former President Jonathan, and indeed every former President, is beyond holding any office in the land. Bringing former Presidents to that level will amount to diminishing their political stature. Already, President Buhari is doing excellently well by delegating some high-profile diplomatic responsibilities to former President Jonathan”, the APC Chieftain stated.

Lukman also admonished that rather than expressing misgivings over the decision of former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode to join APC last Thursday, what is required in the circumstance is that the party’s leaders must test the commitment of the APC new bride to reform himself.

He said the first test is that Fani-Kayode should be reminded that politics is local and coming from Osun State, his commitment to reform himself should start with getting him to integrate himself with APC leaders back in Osun State.

“At this early stage of his membership of APC, beyond the photo show with our dear President Buhari and the Chairman of the APC Caretaker Committee, Fani-Kayode should have a photo gallery with images of him uniting with Bisi Akande, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, Governor Gboyega Oyetola and other party leaders in his home state, Osun.

“In fact, part of this test would have been met had Governor Oyetola and Ogbeni Aregbesola, at the minimum, been part of the welcome reception at the Presidential Villa on Thursday, September 16. Had that happened, the raging controversy following the admission of Fani-Kayode into the party would have been minimised.

“The photo gallery should also cover images with leaders from the South-West. Fani-Kayode should take every step to reciprocate the gesture of our leaders by demonstrating that he is ready to reform himself. Some of the controversies he has already created make it doubtful whether he wants to reform himself at all”, the PGF Boss said.

Lukman said Fani-Kayode’s claims that he facilitated the defection of some Governors that joined the APC from Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), suggested that he is still his old venomous self, stressing that, only people with very small minds could make such statements and only gullible people can believe them.

“The claim that three additional Governors – Bauchi, Oyo and Enugu – are on their way to join the APC, also falls in the same category of small mind talking to gullible people. If Fani-Kayode truly wants the party to succeed in recruiting anybody, including Governors, he should quietly support the leadership. We have a very competent leadership that can handle that responsibility, which is why his admission into the party succeeded in the first place.

“A major challenge of high-profile political party membership recruitment, like that of Fani-Kayode, is the issue of getting those recruited to be accountable. How can the party ensure that newly recruited high-profile members moderate themselves such that it is the party that controls them and not the other way round?

“While it is easy to control people that are already constraint by legal provisions on account of statutory responsibilities such as Governors and legislators, individuals like Fani-Kayode, who are only responsible to themselves, would be difficult to manage.

“It is therefore important that APC members prepare to engage Fani-Kayode to ensure that he is accountable to our leaders, our party organs, and by extension, Nigerians..

“He must be accountable to our leadership and all our party structures. He must respect himself and abide by the provisions of the party constitution and its manifesto. To support him, copies of the APC constitution and manifesto must be made available to him immediately”, Lukman added.

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