Former President Goodluck Jonathan has faced criticism from the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Bayelsa State over his comment on the November 11, 2023, governorship election in the state.
Jonathan had congratulated Governor Douye Diri of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for his reelection and said he would have relocated his mother to Abuja if Diri had lost.
Diri was declared the winner of the election after he polled 175,196 votes to defeat his closest rival, Timipre Sylva of the APC, who got 110,108 votes. Jonathan, who is from Bayelsa, had visited Diri at the Government House and praised him for improving the security and development of the state.
He said cultism and kidnapping had reduced from the “suffocating level they used to be” during Diri’s administration. He also said he was worried about the fate of his mother and his community if Diri had not been reelected.
“I was saying before this election that if Diri loses this election, I would have relocated my mother to Abuja,” Jonathan had said.
However, Sylva, who is the APC governorship candidate, took to his Instagram page to slam Jonathan for his statement. He said he hoped that Jonathan was misquoted and quoted Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka as saying: “you can take the hippopotamus out of the swamp but you cannot take the swamp out of the hippopotamus.”
Sylva was not the only one who expressed displeasure with Jonathan’s comment. The APC Elders Council in Bayelsa State also issued a statement condemning the former president for his alleged bias and hypocrisy. The statement was signed by its secretary, Clarkson Ayebaepreye.
The APC elders accused Jonathan of being in a political midlife crisis and of satisfying his paymasters, who should be his subordinates. They said no former president had reduced himself to such a standard and that he should stop pretending to be a statesman.
They also challenged Jonathan’s claim that Diri had improved the security situation in the state, saying that Bayelsans had faced both physical and economic violence in the last three years of the PDP government. They cited the cases of kidnapping and attacks on Jonathan’s uncle, house, convoy, and kinsman as examples of the insecurity in the state.
They said Jonathan could not keep aiding and abetting violence and incompetence in the state just to advance his confusing political ambition. They said the only part of his politics that was clear was his personal hatred for the APC, a party that upstaged him in 2015 as president.
They reminded him that he supported Peter Obi over President Tinubu of the APC in the last presidential elections and that he was behind the legal tussle that almost denied Diri his first term in office.
They urged Jonathan to respect himself and his office and to stop meddling in the affairs of the state. They said the APC would continue to pursue its mandate and challenge the outcome of the election in the court.
“We do not know how low Jonathan can still go in his quest to satisfy his paymasters which, sadly, as a former President, were to rightly be his subordinates. Every now and then he is at Creek Haven (Bayelsa Government House) jotting orders from Diri. No former President has reduced himself to such standards.
“On the issue of violence, Jonathan remembers things differently. Bayelsans have faced both physical and economic violence in the state than at any other time during the last three years. It’s in the news, that we the APC campaigned under a hail of violence.
“Was APC in power when he, Jonathan’s uncle, was kidnapped? Was APC or Sylva in power when his house at Otuoke was attacked by gunmen? Was APC and Sylva in power when his convoy was attacked? Was APC and Sylva in power when his kinsman, Mike Ogiasa, was kidnapped and dehumanized?
“Jonathan cannot keep aiding and abetting violence and incompetence just to forward his confusing political ambitions. The only part of his politics that is clear is his personal hatred for the APC, a rookie party that upstaged him in 2015 as President.
“He should stop going around with the tag of a statesman, he is clearly neck-deep in politics. We have not forgotten that he supported Peter Obi over President Tinubu of the APC in the last presidential elections and just days to the Bayelsa State gubernatorial elections, he was hurriedly packaged to openly endorse Governor Diri and the PDP.
“Everyone is aware of his PDP by day, and APC by night politics to the extent he almost nominated the Minister from Bayelsa State, a move which failed at the final moments. If you remember our group did a press statement to that effect.”
“Jonathan should respect the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the most exalted office in our country which he has held. Some of his desperate political moves and alignments are below expectations, especially being used as a puppet by a state governor.”