By Ikechukwu Okaforadi
Former President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday joined the race to occupy the Aso Rock Presidential Villa, as he purchased the hundred million naira All Progressive Congress (APC) expression of interest and nomination forms at the International Conference Center (ICC).
Recall that speculation was rife before now claiming that the former president had interest in 2023, even though his Special Adviser on Media, Ikechukwu Ibe, had severally denied the report.
However, yesterday evening, some group of young men and women, who identified themselves as Nomadic Pastoralists and Almajiri group, stormed the ICC, venue of the sale of forms, with a bank draft indicating that Jonathan has paid N100 million into the APC account, and demanded the Party’s expression of interest and nomination forms.
Briefing journàlists after picking the forms on Jonathan’s behalf, the leader of the groups who identified himself as Ibrahim Abdullahi, said during Goodluck Jonathan’s era, he was the first President since independence of Nigeria who has found it expedient and who was magnanimous enough to the Almajiri community.
According to him, Jonathan brought a comprehensive policy of reformation and integration of the almajiri into the mainstream educational system in Nigeria.
He said “I represent two of the most vulnerable communities in our country. The nomadic pasturalist and the almajari communities who have decided to purchase this form for our former president, Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan to come back and tlrule this country and continue with the good work he has started.
“You may recall ladies and gentlemen of the press that during Goodluck Jonathan’s era he was the first President since independence of Nigeria who has found it expedient, who was magnanimous enough some of us remember the almajiri community, he brought a comprehensive policy of reformation and integration of the almajiri into the mainstream educational system in Nigeria.
“It was the dream and the vision of President Goodluck Jonathan that if that programme had continued, it would one day produce from the Almajiri system of education; Doctors, engineers. Unfortunately, that program was kept aside as soon as he left.
“Other parts of the community (the vulnerable community) that Goodluck Jonathan wanted to really give a sense of belonging to were the Fulani community, the nomadic pastoralists.
“He set aside 60 billion naira in the coffer of the Central Bank of Nigeria which was to be used to develop livestocks in Nigeria. I believe if government had continued with that programme, today, we will have been the Denmark, the Sweden, the Holland of the entire Africa in terms of livestock, in terms of beef and so on.
“Looking at this situation and of course the problems Nigeria today is facing, we believe that only a leader with that kind of patriotism, a leader with that kind of fairness who is ready to give every Nigerian sense of belonging can be able to rule this country and that leader is Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.”
He observed that before now, a lot of interest groups have been asking him to contest, saying “We felt that because it is the deadline that was given, whether he agrees or not, we need to purchase this form. Goodluck Jonathan is for all Nigeria.
“As a Nigerian we believe has interest of this country at heart, he will accept us. You can see that we are almost late to buy these forms, we have been trying with the Almajiri and the Fulani’s selling our cows. We were able to raise this money just yesterday and we decided to come and purchase these forms.
“Let Nigerians support this project. If you are talking about Goodluck Jonathan, I don’t think there is any aspirant so far that we have seen that can be compared in any way with Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. Unless if Nigerians are not serious, unless if we don’t want to integrate and unite in this country, unless if you want to continue playing the politics of religion, tribalism.
“You see, I’m a Fulani man, coming from the far North, but I tell you there is no Nigerian today that I can cast my vote for, campaign vote for except Jonathan. For me, Jonathan is best amongst all the aspirants, irrespective of where he comes from or his religion.”
He also said Goodluck Jonathan is the best president for Nigeria, expressing hope that with the purchase of forms, all the patriotic aspirants, who wants Nigeria’s unity and sense of belonging and a president for all, should adopt Jonathan.
“If they want a president that has come out to say his ambition does not worth the blood of any Nigerian, no matter how lowly or highly placed, such Nigerian is and he lived to that word when the chips were down, I think it is time for Nigerians to tell that man to come back and lead us”, Ibrahim said