By Chukwudi Nweje
Chief Moses Essien is the former Commissioner for Education in Akwa Ibom State; he is also the Director-General, Diplomatic Business Group, as well as the National Coordinator of Goodluck Jonathan Campaign Organization. In this interview, he fielded questions from newsmen on the big trending issues that pertain to Nigeria’s biggest event next year, the 2023 Presidential Election, especially the pressure being mounted on former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan by the North to return to power in 2023. He also addressed why GEJ’s 2023 project is widely acceptable to other ethnic nationalities in the country.
Why do you think the North is routing for Goodluck Jonathan in 2023?
Thank you very much for that question. The answer to that question is very straightforward. It is often said that a good product sells itself because it is attractive and so it naturally attracts patronage. That is what we are witnessing in the case of the former president, His Excellency, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. Nigeria is standing on the brink of its unity and history. The country needs urgent rescue through a trustworthy, detriabilised and sincere democratic leadership that will rebuild national confidence and faith in the country. That is what GEJ represents to this country. When you look at it from this common national denominator, you would 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 and so we saw in his first tenure 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 the area of education which is central, GEJ left indelible footprints in Northern Nigeria as President. I recall his establishment of Almajirai schools across the 19 Northern states. His plan was to bring back over 10 million out of school children from streets into the classroom. The purpose was to reduce the level of illiteracy, add value to their quality of lives through skill acquisition, and above all, reduce the level of 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 the sharing of political offices, GEJ was very generous to people of Northern Nigeria to the point 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 marginalisation. The people of Northern Nigeria believe strongly that GEJ is trustworthy and reliable any day.
In infrastructure, GEJ constructed 25,000 kilometers of roads in 4 years with most of these federal roads delivered in Northern Nigeria. In the area of 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 route 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 GEJ is given the 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 first tenure of four years. He can only be sworn in for his last four years but beside GEJ, the South – South is entitled to eight years.
Is there no other persons in the South -South qualified and acceptable like GEJ?
Amongst all persons in the South – South, GEJ is the most reliable, dependable and credible person having been tested and trusted over time; remember we are talking about national interest. The larger interest, which is the unity of the country, is currently at stake as we head towards 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 to guess. It’s good to be sure about your choice in relation to the prevailing national exigency. That is why Nigerians want GEJ back. He has been tested and proven. No guess work this time.
What is the way forward now that the South West is interested in producing the president in 2023?
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 eight years in the person of Professor 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 in seeking to occupy the presidency this soon again.
What is you take on the issue of zoning ahead of the national conventions of the various parties?
Naturally, the new officers of the party will emerge on zonal basis where the various offices have been zoned. However, it is left for delegates to the convention to determine through a transparent democratic process how party officials will emerge. I am aware that national chairmanship of the party 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 in those routing for Jonathan?
Like I said earlier, the South-West has no basis and justification to seek 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 current mood of the nation 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 feeling of marginalization, domination, oppression and perceived targeted killings in the country. 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 North and South trust GEJ absolutely. He is a leader that all sections of the country can listen and talk to with 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 have no doubt that there is absolute sincerity in routing for GEJ.
Do you think the PDP should also look for a president from the South?
The PDP has no choice than 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 there is no seriousness in the South -South for Jonathan to come back in 2023; why do you think so?
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 indeed across the country for the return of GEJ to Aso Villa come 2023. Granting you this interview is one of those sensitisation and mobilisation 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 for the presidential race.
Of what benefit will GEJ’s return be to Nigeria?
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.
But why do you think the APC is suddenly looking the way of Jonathan in 2023?
Like I said earlier, GEJ is the only Nigerian leader that all ethnic nationalities can trust and speak very frankly with without fear of betrayal. GEJ is the highest and most valuable political asset in Nigeria today. His credentials are loaded with unquestionable capacity of a world class democrat, lover of peace, 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 and win back confidence of the masses, as well as earn trust of the international community. GEJ is the only leader who can win presidential election for APC in 2023. APC is fully aware that the SE, SW, SS will effortlessly accept to vote GEJ than any other candidate from the South and 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 for GEJ in the South-South?
I am the National Coordinator of Goodluck Jonathan Campaign Organization. We have been mobilizing 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 hand of friendship he extended to Nigerian youths. Nigerian youths acknowledged GEJ as the most youth-friendly president in the history of Nigeria. They said repeatedly that they will get their PVC to vote GEJ in the coming presidential election. Our organization is intensifying mobilization of Nigerian youths and we will not stop until GEJ is back to Aso Rock in 2023.