We all have that unforgettable, once-in-a-lifetime experience we prefer to never relive — like getting booed in class for telling a dry joke, or losing your school fees playing Baba Ijebu.
Goodluck Jonathan’s once-in-a-lifetime experience was becoming president of Nigeria through a series of improbable circumstances. But since Buhari dumped him out of Aso Rock Villa in 2015, the rumour mill has refused to rest about Jonathan’s second coming as president.
What the rumour-mongers failed to do was ask the man himself if he’s interested in a fairytale return to Nigeria’s highest seat of power. Because we’re now hearing something different. Let’s walk you through the gist.
The book launch
While we were all dissecting the content of that rare Tinubu interview, there was a book launch in Abuja. The book, written by Nathaniel Bivan, is titled “My Time As Chaplain In Aso Rock” and contains firsthand accounts of former Aso Rock chaplain, Obioma Onwuzurumba. As you’ve probably guessed, he was the chaplain during Jonathan’s administration.
What’s in the book?
Besides an account of Onwuzurumba’s tenure as chaplain, the book also contains an interesting interview with Jonathan. Seven years after he left office, he seemed eager to revisit some key issues and questions surrounding him.
What did Jonathan say?
On running again for president, Jonathan basically said he’s now too big for that.
“If you wake up tomorrow and see that I’m president again, that means there may have been circumstances beyond my control. But not to go and pick one form and go and start lobbying people and running for campaigns, be it PDP power or APC broom and moving across Nigeria. I can’t do that again; if I do that, I’ll diminish myself.”
Jonathan also noted he was amused when a coalition of northern groups bought him a nomination form in May.
“I was enjoying the drama. At least they’re not insulting me. After all, I was pursued out of the office, that I wasn’t good enough. So, if now, Nigerians are saying, “Oh, this man should come,” that means they’re cleaning me up. So, let me enjoy the drama.
“I wasn’t disturbed. I know I cannot go and start struggling to be president again. It wasn’t only Nigerians who were asking me such questions, even most of the top ambassadors — the American ambassador, the UK High Commissioner, France, and all of them. They came to ask me whether I would contest. I don’t think I would contest any election.”
What else did he address?
Jonathan spoke on his current responsibilities as a mediator in stabilising democracy in African countries experiencing conflict.
“Assuming there’s some confusion — and sometimes things like that happen in countries — they tell me to come and play a role in stabilising things. A stable democracy where one leader hands over to another is what we all want.
“Let’s go through that process and not interrupt the democratic processes. We pray such things shouldn’t happen. Otherwise, to go and say I’m contesting on the platform of any party at all. No!”
He also found time to speak on the Muslim-Muslim ticket currently run by the All Progressives’ Congress (APC). He spoke lightly on it, perhaps so that the APC won’t stain his white.
“When I took over as the vice president, the tradition then was that if the president was a Christian, the vice would be a Muslim and vice versa. We have religious festivals in Nigeria and, of course, National Day, where there will be Jummah prayers and Christian prayers.
“Nigerians are religious people, this is why I get worried about the issues of Muslim-Muslim or Christian-Christian ticket. Yes, Muslim-Muslim or Christian-Christian can run the state. But I always ask, “Who will represent this other bloc whenever we come to the national days that we celebrate?”
Surely, a national day of celebration is not the big issue with the Muslim-Muslim ticket here, but then again the man has clearly left politics for peacemaking. So maybe he’s asking Nigerians to extend him the same favour and give him some peace.