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2023 PRESIDENCY: JONATHAN MAKES U-TURN ON APC TICKET

2023 PRESIDENCY: JONATHAN MAKES U-TURN ON APC TICKET
  • PublishedMay 11, 2022
After two hours of meeting with leaders and members of Fulani community, who procured the N100 million presidential nomination forms for him, former President Goodluck Jonathan, is considering running on the ticket of the All Progressives Congress, according to Vanguard.
The former president reportedly met with the Fulani pastoralists between 11p.m on Monday and 1a.m on Tuesday to sort out issues regarding their purchase of the presidential nomination forms without his consent, a development, which made him to reject the offer and denounce those involved in the action.
“We wish to categorically state that Dr. Jonathan was not aware of this bid and did not authorize it,” Jonathan had said in a statement by his media aid, Ikechukwu Eze.
However, it was learned that at the meeting with the Fulani community in Abuja, the leader of the team that procured the form for him, Dr. Ibrahim Abdullahi, apologised to the former president and pleaded with him to pardon their indiscretion and accept the offer to run.
The pastoralists are reported to have told Jonathan that they bought the form for him as a demonstration of their appreciation for the N60 billion investments he made for the Almajiris during his tenure in the form of schools and investment opportunities.
A source at the meeting pointed out that after listening to the Fulani community, Jonathan reluctantly accepted their plea to consider running for the APC ticket as suggested by them and promised to give them a feedback as soon as possible but did not however, give a specific date.
The former president also asked the Fulani community never to embark on any political assignment on his behalf without first clearing with him given his position in Nigeria and the international community.
Jonathan is said to have also told the Fulani delegation that he was uncomfortable to hear about the purchase of the nomination form for him just like any other person, an action, which he considered insulting to his status as a former president of Nigeria.
Newsmen learned that majority of the inner caucus of the former president’s loyalists, who had vehemently opposed his running on the APC platform, had gradually withdrawn their opposition to the idea and had given him the nod to go ahead.
As a result, some of the key loyalists are reported to have joined with the Fulani community in completing the APC presidential nomination form for Jonathan so as to meet the deadline for the return of the document to the party secretariat in Abuja.
“I can tell you that Jonathan’s loyalists cut across party lines and majority of them have really been encouraging him to run. That is why some of them are helping with the completion of the nomination form for the former president,” a reliable source said.
“The Fulani Group of 10 led by Dr. Ibrahim Abdullahi said they purchased the form out of the gladness of their hearts as a way of paying back former president Jonathan for being kind to them while in office.
“The Fulani community recalled that Jonathan built hundreds of Almajiri schools during his tenure and also allocated the pastoralists cattle seed funds,” the source said.
It will be recalled that Jonathan had on Monday rejected the nomination form presented to him by the Fulani community and upbraided them for insulting him with their action.
He, however, later met with the National Chairman of the APC, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, in a move seen as an acceptance of the offer to run for the ticket of the party, if given the chance.
On a day that the APC scheduled the screening of aspirants to begin on Friday after raking in N2.63 bn from sale of presidential nomination forms, former President Jonathan’s moves elicited mixed reactions in the polity.
WE’RE NOT SURPRISED — ACF
The Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, has said that it cannot stop former President Jonathan from moving to another political party as doing so is not new to politicians.
Shuaibu Lili, the officer in charge of ACF’s information and Protocol, told newsmen: “Nigerians know what former Goodluck was, therefore, the ACF cannot stop him from moving from one party to another. This is not a new thing among politicians and it is his right to make his choice.”
Defection of ex President Jonathan to APC unfortunate — MBF
The Middle Belt Forum, MBF, described as unfortunate the purported defection of former President Jonathan to the APC.
The Forum noted that by his action, Jonathan would lose the goodwill he enjoys among Nigerians, who regard him as a reference point for good governance in the country.
MBF National Treasurer, Chief Ben Akaakar, said: “It is unfortunate that he is joining the people that have destroyed the legacies that he left for Nigerians as President of the country. He should know that if he actually defects to the APC, he will never be a reference point for good governance in the country anymore especially with the lack-luster performance of the ruling APC.
“So, his defection will be a disappointment for Nigerians, who have been lamenting the maladministration of the APC and demanding that the party return the country to the pre-2015 era.”
APC may find it difficult to campaign with Jonathan  as its candidate —Umahi
Ebonyi State Governor, Engr. Dave Umahi, said that the APC might find it difficult to campaign with Jonathan as its presidential candidate.
Governor Umahi also said that those who obtained the APC forms for the former president could be mischievous people, whose intentions were to embarrass him.
However, Umahi said that the success story of his emergence as Ebonyi State governor in 2015 could not have been possible without President Jonathan and his wife, Dame Patience Jonathan.
Governor Umahi, who met with President Muhammadu Buhari, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja to present him a “Thank you” letter from South-East leaders following his recent visit to Ebonyi, told State House correspondents that it would be another wonder of the world to have President Jonathan in the race for the presidential ticket of the APC.
He said even though there have been denials regarding the former President’s rumoured move to the APC, if he eventually joins the ruling party it would be a material for Guinness Book of Records.
The Governor wondered how the APC would reconcile its policies and promises with those of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, under which Jonathan was President.
“The reason is that if you go and see the campaign programmes of APC and you now ask President Jonathan to come and run, I don’t know what will be our campaign promises and what will be the stories we’ll be telling Nigerians.
“I believe strongly that he was not aware of the forms and I want to believe that people that are mischievous would have bought the forms to embarrass him. But from what I read, he has quickly distanced himself from that. But like I said, if that is not the case, then the Guinness Book of Records is not totally filled up.”
Speaking further, he said: “Jonathan is my father and God used him and his wife to make me governor of Ebonyi State and so, anybody who has done anything for me, I’ve always remained very grateful to such person and I will continue to be very grateful to him, and the wife for being available and being my destiny helper, to achieve that feat.”
Jonathan has diminished himself —  Adebanjo
In his reaction, leader of the Pan-Yoruba Socio-Political organization, Afenifere, Pa Ayo Adebanjo, said he was disappointed that the former President did not come out early to refute the claims of his presidential ambition, adding that Jonathan has diminished himself.
His words: : “It is better for him to deny but the fact that he has taken such a long time to deny does not give any credit to him. As far as I am concerned, he has diminished himself by toying with the idea in the first place. He should have told the northerners that he was not going to be a party to their politics. He should be knowledgeable enough to know that all the tricks of the northerners are to deny the South. He should know. I am disappointed.
“Anyway, it was better he rejected the offer because if he had not, his reputation would have gone down.”
Insinuations of Jonathan’s defection, insulting —PANDEF
On its part, the Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, said that reports of Jonathan defecting to the APC, and getting the presidential nomination form from a group are insulting.
National Publicity Secretary of PANDEF, Hon Ken Robinson, noted that Jonathan has not indicated interest to run, and has all it takes to get the form for himself if he has interest.
He said: “We see it as one of those political machinations that some political interest groups are deploying for their own interest. It is obvious that if former president Jonathan runs for office and wins he will spend four years in office and that will be to the advantage of some persons.
“As PANDEF has said before, the former president has not told us that he is interested in running for the office, so our attitude will be to wait until party primaries are concluded and then we will see the choices that are presented to us by the two major parties and we evaluate them and take a position.
“Don’t forget that PANDEF, Afenifere, Middle Belt Forum, Ohanaeze Ndigbo are insisting that power shifts to the South in the interest of Nigeria and anything contrary will affect the unity of Nigeria.
“We agree with the position of the former president media team, that the action was insulting. If the former president wants to run for the office he does not need a group of almajiri or rice farmers or whatsoever to go and buy form for him to be able to run. If he wants to run he has prominent Nigerians, especially from Southern Nigeria.”
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