Though, former president Goodluck Jonathan on Friday debunked media speculation about his rumoured interest in the 2023 presidential election, he failed to emphatically rule himself out of the race.
The former president described media reports linking him to the 2023 presidential election as merely speculative, saying his preoccupation was “to continue to serve God, humanity, Africa and the world” to the best of his ability and with sincere commitment.
Jonathan gave the clarifications when he led a delegation of politicians from Bayelsa State on a condolence visit to the Delta State Governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, at Government House Asaba, on the death of his father, Sir Arthur Okorie Okowa.
Analysts said Jonathan only declared media reports about his interest as speculative and failed to unequivocally rule himself out of the 2023 race.
One analyst who pleaded for anonymity remarked: “Jonathan did not declare that he would never run again for Nigeria’s highest office. That was what he would have said if he was not interested. That did not happen. He only addressed media report and did not rule himself out. He is being tactical. So, Jonathan is still in the race.”
There were speculations that the All Progressives Congress (APC) was considering fielding Jonathan in the next general election to serve a single term, having served one term as president on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The rumour was fuelled by the visit of some APC governors to the ex-president in Abuja during his birthday last year.
Jonathan, who took over power as the President of Nigeria in May 2010 after the death of then President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, contested the 2011 presidential election on the platform of the PDP and won, but lost the 2015 presidential election to the incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari of the APC.
The former president, however, took the opportunity of the visit to Okowa to solicit for a new spirit of synergy among stakeholders in Nigeria in order to douse the worrisome level of insecurity in the country.
It is obvious that the insecurity challenge is giving Mr. President, the governors and all well-meaning Nigerians sleepless nights, he noted, saying that such concerns should motivate the stakeholders to act decisively in order to get over this phase in our national life.
Specifically, the ex-president called on President Muhammadu Buhari, state governors, the armed forces and other security chiefs, traditional rulers, as well as other stakeholders, to synergise and de-escalate tension created by the prevailing atmosphere of insecurity across the country.
He decried the situation where innocent school children and numerous citizens were being kidnapped and used as bargaining tools by ransom-seeking crminals under different guises.
Jonathan said, “I believe that with the commitment of the governors and the federal government, we will be able to address the issue of insecurity in the country.
“I believe that the President himself is not sleeping and that the governors are not sleeping as well over the insecurity challenge in the country.
“As long as the governors, the president and all the security agencies can work together, Nigeria will be able to cross over this very ugly phase of societal evolution.”
Nevertheless, Jonathan said he was impressed by the efforts of President Buhari in halting the spate of insecurity in the country, calling on Nigerians to join hands in making the country safe for all.
He commended Governor Okowa for his giant strides in human capital and infrastructural development, saying that he was impressed with the visible landmark achievements so far recorded by the Okowa administration in Delta State.
On the demise of his father, Jonathan urged Okowa and his siblings to continue to promote their father’s enviable records and legacies as an honour to his memory of a life well spent.
Responding, Okowa thanked the former president for identifying with the family on the passage of their patriarch, saying that they were consoled by the fact that their father died in Christ.
He said that a thanksgiving service for late Pa Okowa had been fixed for August 21, 2021, saying that the ceremony would be a platform to appreciate God for giving them a good father.
Okowa said, “My father was truly a school teacher and impacted a lot in our various communities and eventually he became a church leader and was very effective in the Anglican Communion.
“He was also a politician; people don’t actually know that but he actually groomed me in my early days in politics and he was always there to offer me advice on what best to do. He was truly a strong pillar behind me in my early political days.”
Okowa used the opportunity to appreciate the former president for being a good ambassador of the nation to the world and urged him to continue to be a father to the people of Niger Delta, Nigeria and Africa.
He equally lauded Jonathan for his role in the establishment of Maritime University in Okerenkoko, Warri South West Local Government Area of the state which, according to him, has engendered peace in the Niger Delta.
“We must thank you for the various roles you have played and for being a good ambassador of Nigeria outside office and we pray that God will continue to be supportive of the roles that you will play for the betterment of our nation, West Africa and African Union.
“We appreciate your fatherly role even within our own South-South region; and, I must actually use this opportunity to thank you for the establishment of the Maritime University in Okerenkoko because that actually did bring peace to us as a state,” Okowa said.