Chief Moses Essien is the former commissioner for education in Akwa Ibom state, a governorship aspirant, director-general Diplomatic Business Group, as well as the national coordinator of Goodluck Jonathan Campaign Organisation. In this interview with newsmen, he speaks about the pressure being mounted on former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan to return to power in 2023 and other issues. IDACHABA SUNNY ELEOJO was there.
Why do you think the north is rooting for GEJ in 2023?
Thank you. The answer to that question is very straightforward. It’s often said that a good product sells itself because it is attractive; so naturally attracts patronage. That is what we are witnessing in the case of former president, His Excellency, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. Nigeria is at a precipice and needs urgent rescue through a trustworthy, detriabilised and sincere democratic leadership that would build national confidence and faith in the country. That is what GEJ represents in 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 GEJ back to power once again. GEJ stands for equity and justice; 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. I recall his establishment of Almajiri schools across 19 northern states. His plan was to bring back over 10 million children from streets into the classroom. The purpose was to reduce the level of illiteracy, add value to their quality of live through skills acquisition and above all, reduce the level of insecurity in the region. In addition, GEJ established nine 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 the north to the point that he had to remove NSA appointee from his place of origin to appoint a northerner. Throughout his presidency, 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 kilometres of roads within four years with most of those federal roads delivered in the north. In the areas of agriculture and health, GEJ made the north very proud of him as he was able to contain terrorist groups thereby preventing the type of massacre and bloodbath that is going on now in the the region. The people of northern Nigeria would always root for GEJ anytime if it pleases him to indicate interest in the presidency once again.
Why should the south take only four years if GEJ is given the chance?
Constitutionally, GEJ can be sworn into office only two times, having been sworn in before as a democratically elected president. 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 candidate from the region qualified and accepted than GEJ?
Amongst all persons from the region, GEJ is the most reliable, dependable and credible person having been tested and trusted over the years. 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. You know trust is the hardest currency in a democratic leadership like Nigeria. In times like this, you don’t need a guess work. It’s good to be sure about your choice in relation to the prevailing national exigency. That is why Nigerians want GEJ. He has been tested and proven.
What is the way forward now that the South-west is interested in the presidency?
You can recall that the South-west has done eight years under the former President Olusegun Obasanjo. Now, the region holds the position of the vice president close to another eight years. 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 would be asking for too much in seeking to occupy the presidency this soon again.
Zoning arrangement would play crucial role in who eventually emerge as flag bearer. All the parties are keeping everyone guessing as they head to their respective convention. What is your take?
Naturally, the new officers of the party would emerge on zonal basis where the various offices have been zoned. However it is left for delegates to the convention to determine through transparent democratic process how party officials would emerge. I am aware that national chairmanship of the party has been zoned to the North-central which confirms that the party has officially zoned its presidency to the southern region of the country.
Sir, is there any sincerity in rooting for GEJ?
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 now Vice President Yemi Osinbajo from the same zone. The current mood of the nation requires a leader that all zones in the country can trust. Nigeria is witnessing its most trying times since 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 marginalisation, 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. He is a leader that all sections of the country can talk to with open mind. GEJ is known for his impartiality, fairness, 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 rooting for GEJ.
Do you think PDP should also look for a southern candidate?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 would do otherwise.
But it seems there is no sign of seriousness in the South-south for GEJ in 2023. Why?
It is not true that there is no sign of seriousness in the South–south for GEJ. I can tell you that intense mobilisation has been going on in the zone and indeed across the country. This interview is one of those sensitisations. I can assure you that Nigerians from the north and south would go in one direction for GEJ as soon as he formally declares his interest for the presidential race.
What would his return offer the country?
GEJ’s return would be the best thing to happen to Nigeria. First, he would return Nigeria to the path of peace; mutual suspicion would cease; ethnic domination would drastically reduce and there would be a sense of inclusiveness by all ethnic nationalities because GEJ is known for fairness, justice and equity in the distribution of political offices and amenities with insecurity drastically reduce if not eliminated.
What role are you playing in the South-south for GEJ?
I am the national coordinator of Goodluck Jonathan Campaign Organisation. We have been mobilising in the six states of the zone 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 them. They acknowledge GEJ as the most youth-friendly president in the history of Nigeria. They said repeatedly that they would get their PVC to vote GEJ in the coming presidential election. Our organisation is intensifying mobilisation of youths and would not stop until GEJ is back to Aso Rock in 2023.