2023: I Would Join The Presidential Race Only If I’m Assured Of Being Made The Consensus Candidate — Jonathan Gives Fresh Conditions To Fly APC Flag
…As party extends sale of forms to May 12
Fresh facts have emerged from the recent meeting in Abuja between the former president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, and National Chairman of the governing All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Abdullahi Adamu, which was held behind closed doors.
The revelation from the meeting emerged just as the APC last night extended the sale of its nomination and expression of interest forms to Thursday May 12, 2022, while aspirants who had already bought forms are now expected to start submitting same on Friday May 13. According to a three-paragraph statement from the ruling party, although the original deadline for sale of forms was yesterday, the two work-free days observed last week were said to have encroached into the original timetable. Hence, the extension.
Following the new submission date, APC has fixed Saturday May 14 and Sunday May 15 for screening of all aspirants that have returned their duly completed and signed nomination and expression of interest forms to the APC Secretariat,” it added.
The meeting between Jonathan and Adamu took place amid wide speculation that APC was hatching a deal with the former president to adopt him as the party’s presidential candidate ahead of the 2023 general election.
But a reliable source said Jonathan, currently a member of the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), told Adamu he would join the presidential race on the ruling party’s platform only if he was assured of being made the consensus candidate.
However, Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State, also a presidential aspirant under APC, said the participation of Jonathan in the party’s presidential primaries this month would be another wonder of the world.
The governor’s comment came as one of the presidential aspirants on the APC platform, Adamu Garba, left the party yesterday over the N100 million cost of its presidential nomination and expression of interest forms. Garba said the humongous sum was tantamount to commercialisation of the APC presidential ticket.
In a similar vein, Catholic Bishop of the Sokoto Diocese, His Grace Matthew Hassan Kukah, expressed worry over the huge amounts being charged presidential aspirants by the two major political parties, APC and PDP. Kukah said the country was walking the fine line between democracy and plutocracy, but might soon jettison the former.
The meeting between Jonathan and Adamu took place few hours after a Fulani group, under the aegis of Nomadic Pastoralists and the Almajiri Communities, purchased the ruling party’s nomination and expression of interest forms for the former president.
However, THISDAY reliably learnt late last night that people like Chief Mike Oghiadomhe, Jonathan’s Chief of Staff while he was in office and some other close aides to the former president are opposed to him running at all because they feel he would be disgraced down the line. “They were the people that drafted the hard-line press statement earlier yesterday, which was withdrawn few minutes after for the statement currently in circulation, because they don’t want him to run. As you may have noticed, the second statement was watered down version of the first one ”
The source who is familiar with the ongoing talks disclosed, “The former president just wants a coronation as the presidential ticket bearer.”
The response of the APC chairman to Jonathan’s request for consensus presidential ticket was not clear. But THISDAY learnt that while only President Muhammadu Buhari could give the final approval for such an agreement, interest groups within the party would oppose such an arrangement.
THISDAY’s findings further revealed that in the one-hour meeting between Jonathan and Adamu, the demand of the former president was neither rejected nor accepted.
The meeting, held between 9pm and 10pm, and was organised in a bid to sort out grey issues concerning Jonathan’s bid to fly the APC presidential flag in next year’s poll.
It was gathered that if the consensus candidacy deal goes through, the former president might have the governor of Borno State, Professor Babagana Zulum, as his running mate.
“Granting him his request as a consensus candidate is still dicey because of the presidential declaration of Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele,” the source said.
The source, who is one of Jonathan’s relations, told THISDAY, “The former president gave the condition that all hurdles that could stand against him becoming the consensus candidate of the APC should be cleared before he would formally join the APC and the presidential race.
“Nothing is guaranteed. The meeting was part of the usual meetings since Sunday, but heightened with the purchase of the presidential form.
“You could see that the first statement by Oga’s aide said he was not consulted before the purchase of the presidential form and, therefore, it should be disregarded. The second statement from the same person was more subtle, stating that there is no commitment from the side of President Jonathan.
From the two statements, one thing that is clear is that the APC national chairman did not confirm that he (Jonathan) will be the consensus presidential candidate. Abdullahi Adamu told him that he could not categorically assure that he will become the consensus candidate without further clarification from the president, who was outside the country.”
The brother and former aide of Jonathan summed up the discussion at the meeting, thus, “Nothing was guaranteed and, hence, Oga said he was not committed to the pursuit of his presidential ambition on the platform of the APC.”
The former aide said the grey issues to clear up regarding Jonathan’s potential candidacy on the platform of APC included the proposed one-term of four years.
According to reports, the confusion that followed the purchase of the presidential form for Jonathan arose because of the spirited efforts by his loyalists in PDP to dissuade him from joining APC and running on its platform. Jonathan’s supporters were said to believe doing that would mean belittling his image.
Another reliable source said the former president had earlier met with the APC leadership last Sunday and concluded plans to accept the nomination form, but he was strongly discouraged by his close friends, who advised him to remain in PDP.
The source said, “These people have been pressurising Jonathan until the very last minute not to accept to run on the APC ticket, no matter how tempting the conditions may be.
“That was why the former president did not present himself to the APC national chairman on Sunday, when the form was to be formally presented to him by the Almajiri group, who wanted to show him appreciation for what he did for them during his tenure by building schools and rehabilitating them.”
The source, speaking on what prompted Jonathan to meet Adamu, said, “The main argument of those opposed to Jonathan running on the APC ticket is that it would be belittling to his image and standing in the world for him to do so, given where he has been and what he represents as a former president of Nigeria.
“But the point is that the deadline for picking the form is this week and if he does not accept the form, the window would be closed and the opportunity lost.
“That was why the former president had to meet Adamu last night and their meeting was very productive, as both men came out happily at the end of the one-hour meeting in Adamu’s house in Abuja.”
The chairman of Bayelsa State chapter of APC, Dennis Otiotio, said the former president was at liberty to join the party, even though he was yet to register. Otiotio spoke to newsmen in a telephone interview, saying he is not aware of Jonathan’s membership.
The APC state chairman said, “The former president is not yet a registered member of APC. He is free to join any party of his choice.
“We are open and willing to receive him into our fold. As a political party desirous of winning elections, the only way to go is by admitting people into the party.”
Following the purchase of the presidential form for him, the former president had said in a statement by his media adviser, Ikechukwu Eze, that he was not aware of the development and did not authorise it.
The statement released on Monday read, “It has come to the notice of His Excellency, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, that a group has purportedly purchased Presidential Nomination and Expression of Interest forms of the APC in his name. We wish to categorically state that Dr. Jonathan was not aware of this bid and did not authorise it. While we appreciate the overwhelming request by a cross-section of Nigerians for Dr. Jonathan to make himself available for the 2023 presidential election, we wish to state, that he has not in anyway, committed himself to this request.
“We thank the general public for their concern, as we continue to encourage citizens’ participation in the affairs of the country.” (Excerpted from a THISDAY report)