Confusion is brewing in the ruling All Progressives Congress, especially, in its South-South and South-East zones over the sudden emergence of former President Goodluck Jonathan in the presidential race.
The N100 million nomination and expression of interest forms of the ruling party were reportedly bought for former President Jonathan by ‘Normadic Herders and Almajiris Community on Monday.
Although the Bayelsa-born politician came out to distance himself from the group and their forms, Jonathan, on the same evening, reportedly paid a visit to the National Chairman of the APC and former Nasarawa State Governor, Abdullahi Adamu, at his residence in Abuja.
Insiders confirmed that the former President was at Adamu’s residence to seek assurance of the party’s support before he decamps from the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to APC and make his intention to return to the office again public.
While Jonathan was in the meeting with Adamu, sources privy to their discussions told Journalist that although the APC Chairman welcomed the former President to the ruling party, there was absolutely no assurance that he could be handed the party’s presidential ticket.
Adamu, however, assured the ex-Nigerian leader that there would be a level playing field for all aspirants on the party’s platform during the primaries if he declares.
However, many Nigerians believe that Jonathan or people very close to him actually purchased the forms to beat the deadline for the sale of forms by the APC which actually ended yesterday.
A source from the ruling party said, “Yes, the former President was here at night on Monday but there was absolutely no commitment from the party Chair.
“What I’m trying to say is that Adamu did not assure him on automatic consensus ticket. Jonathan was specifically at Adamu’s residence to seek assurance on his intention to pick the party’s ticket.
“That’s all I know for now and I can categorically tell you that Adamu welcomed Jonathan to our great party and made him understand that there’s a level playing ground for everyone.”
Another source said that Jonathan had earlier met with President Muhammadu Buhari, where he also sought assurance from the President. However, details of their meeting have remained speculative.
“I’m aware that Jonathan has been doing some secret consultations among party bigwigs. He met Buhari at the Presidential Villa but I have no idea what the President told him,” the source said.
However, Jonathan’s entrant or what could be seen as appearing in the race for the APC Presidential ticket is reportedly shaking the foundation of the party as some aspirants from the South, especially the South-East and South-South are seeing the move as detrimental to their own aspiration.
Many, among the 23 aspirants of the APC see Jonathan as a strong force and would easily claim the party’s ticket and are unhappy about the move as they also believe that the former President would shortchange the South, having only four years to preside over the country after which he returned power to the North.
Jonathan is at the moment causing anxiety among other aspirants such as former Governor of Rivers State, Rotimi Amaechi, who is widely seen as his political foe.
The Transportation Minister had declared his interest, picked his forms and has been on a nationwide consultation while the likes of Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipreye Sylva and Minister of Niger Delta Affairs Senator Godswill Akpabio are also said to be anxious about the development.
Prominent among aggrieved aspirants from the South East is the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, who is said to be a long term friend of President Buhari and Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige and the Governor of Ebonyi State. These aspirants have one reason or more to believe that the President would give them the nod.
They feel that the sudden emergence of Jonathan will now reduce the thickness of their chances going by the fact that Jonathan has a special place in Buhari’s heart for giving him the opportunity to see his lifelong dream of ruling Nigeria come to pass in 2015 when he willingly handed over government to him.
A chieftain of the APC in Rivers State and South-South, who would not want to be mentioned, told Journalist it was actually a scary moment for all the presidential aspirants in the party.
According to him, “it is true that Amaechi and others made a huge impact on President Buhari’s becoming the president but Jonathan has a big place in Buhari’s heart.”
“And the aspirants, seeing what is happening now, feel that Buhari may end up endorsing Jonathan because it even favours him as a Northerner.
“But meetings after meetings are going on as some well-meaning elders are trying to make Jonathan understand the gameplan of the North but as you know, it’s a game of interest. It’s Jonathan first before any other individuals but here we expect him to put the interest of the region ahead.
“Yes, Jonathan’s emergence caused disarray in the camps of some aspirants but some others want to see what the party’s decision would be. They believe that the decision of APC leadership is sacrosanct.
“I don’t know how true but I understand that the Presidency knows about the presidential forms obtained for Jonathan. I don’t want to speculate. And since then, the body language of our politicians here [Old Eastern Region] has slowed down a bit. As I said earlier, they want to see what the party would decide.
“Well, it would be courageous enough for Jonathan to properly enter the race but as a Southetner, I would plead with him to.forget about it .”
Meanwhile, Jonathan has been warned by some individuals and groups against returning as Nigerian President at the expense of the entire South.
Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, HURIWA, had before told Jonathan to shelve the plans of entering the race for the 2023 presidency.
They believe that Jonathan is being used as a tool by Northern APC chieftains, to reduce the number of years the South will stay in power.
Emmanuel Onwubiko of HURIWA warned the ex-President to avoid such a move, adding that contesting the election would be seen as a betrayal of the Igbo nation.
“So, Goodluck Jonathan should not replay that hatred that they showed to the Igbo after the war because if he accepts to be candidate of APC and become the president, it means he has short-changed the Igbo who gave him their all,” Onwubiko said.
“If he does that, the South-South and the South-East will never have peace or trust each other for life. Because of what happened to us after the war in the 60s, when we lost so many housing assets, they have not been forgotten.
“So, if he tried a second betrayal by accepting APC’s enticement to become President for only four years, he is doing it because he wants to short-change the Igbos.”
Also, David Umahi of Ebonyi had cautioned Jonathan to avoid embarrassing himself by entering the presidential race
Umahi said on Tuesday that if Jonathan attempts to run for the coveted office of President, it would most likely be regarded as one of the wonders of the century.
According to Umahi, “those prodding Jonathan to run for the presidency, may be plotting to embarrass him politically,” noting that “such ambition does not even align with the programmes of the APC.”
Apex Igbo socio-cultural organization, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, while reacting to the purchase of form for Jonathan by the Northern Coalition, told the ex-president not to forget the sacrifices Ndigbo made for him in the past.
“There is no going back to the 2023 Nigerian President of Igbo stock and anything contrary to it amounts to a denial of equity, fairness, and justice,” Mazi Okechukwu Isiguzoro, the organisation’s Secretary, said.
Isiguzoro said “there are frantic endeavors and backstage activities to pitch Ijaws against Ndigbo, a repeat of 1966 gimmicks aimed at the resuscitating the age-long enmity between the two ethnic groups of old Eastern region, which was demolished in 2011 when Igbos adopted Jonathan as our own.”