After the successful conduct of its national convention weekend, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) is now faced with one major task of searching for a presidential candidate that will fly the party’s flag in the 2023 presidential election.
With the election of Senator Abdullahi Adamu, former Nasarawa State governor, as its national chairman, there is a high probability that the APC might zone the presidential ticket to the South, rather than throw it open as being canvassed by some stakeholders, especially from the Northern part of the country.
Despite the declaration of some presidential aspirants from the South such as Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, former Lagos State governor and national leader of the party; David Umahi, Ebonyi State governor; Rochas Okorocha, former Imo State governor, there are reports that the presidency is working underground to bring in former President Goodluck Jonathan into the party and make him its presidential candidate.
Daily Independent gathered that the belief of the cabals behind the plot was that Jonathan has an edge because aside being a Southerner, he is also a Christian, which is a very important consideration given the fact that President Buhari who will be completing his term of office next year is a Muslim.
It is also believed that if Jonathan eventually gets the ticket and wins the presidential election, he will do just one term, since he has already served one term before his defeat in 2015 and then return power back to the North.
The rumour was recently confirmed by Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN), an APC chieftain and Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), who said the plot is for the APC to pair Jonathan with the Yobe State governor, Mai Mala Buni, as his running mate, knowing that he could only do one term in office as president.
He further told Daily Independent that after Jonathan’s one term, having served as president before, Buni, who was formerly the Chairman of the APC Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee, will then replace him in 2027.
Sagay said: “Now we are hearing from the sides, former President Goodluck Jonathan wants to join APC. Why would a man who had been president before denigrate himself to that level? I hear that the conspiracy is to bring in Jonathan as APC presidential candidate and Buni as the vice-presidential candidate. If APC wins, Jonathan will go away after four years and Buni becomes the president. That is the rumour I’m hearing now.”
Speaking with Daily Independent on Sunday, a former minister from the South- South who is a key loyalist of Jonathan said with the convention of the party now over, Jonathan is set to make up his mind on where he belongs.
He also confirmed that Jonathan is “technically out of the PDP as at today”.
According to him, “Yes, the former president was approached by the leaders of the APC who sold him the idea of running on the party’s platform in 2023. They said they were happy with the manner he handled his defeat in 2015, conceding defeat even before the election results were fully announced without any form of bitterness and the cooperation he has been giving President Buhari. They also said as true democrat, Nigeria needs him at this moment to unite the country.
“I am aware he (Jonathan) gave them only one condition. And that is if they are ready to make him the consensus presidential candidate of the party. He doesn’t want any acrimony that will arise from contesting the presidential primary at all. That is the only condition I am aware he gave to the APC leaders who are in talks with him”.
Efforts made by Daily Independent to get the reaction from the presidency proved abortive as none of our sources declined to speak on the issue.
However, in an interview late last year, Senator John Akpanudoedehe, former national secretary of the APC Caretaker Committee, said if Jonathan joins the APC, he will be given the opportunity to contest the next general election but will not get an automatic ticket.
“I am hearing that for the first time that we are expecting the former president. That will be great news. We will welcome him; that will also strengthen the party. The last National Executive Council of the party actually gave a blanket approval to any individual that if you join APC today, it is as if you are a founding member of the party. So, anyone who joins today has the same opportunity to run for any office in this party. It has always been so, so I am not speculating”, Akpanudoedehe had said.
When contacted, Hon. Bosun Oladele, National Secretary of the South-West Agenda for Asiwaju 2023 (SWAGA’23), said the idea of a consensus presidential candidate is unacceptable as it will cause rancour and division in the party.
According to him, nobody should try to get the APC presidential ticket through the backdoor.
“There is nothing like consensus presidential candidate. That will be a short cut which they know cannot be possible through a primary if all the aspirants file out on the field. Nobody should think of getting the ticket through the back door.
“Don’t forget, Asiwaju Tinubu deliberately said that he has the capacity. So, I believe that is the number one requirement for anybody that wants to contest the election. Whoever is contesting, let them go to the field and show their capacity. After all, if not for contested primaries, would it have been possible for Buhari to emerge in 2015? I believe if he had emerged by consensus then, there would have been serious protest and division in the party”, he said.
SOURCE: DAILY INDEPENDENT