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2023 PRESIDENCY: Jonathan makes U-turn on APC ticket

Ex-president's supporters buckle, move to complete nomination form before deadline


Jonathan meets with Fulani community for two hours, considers demand to run

APC begins aspirants' screening Friday, rakes in N2.63 bn from presidential forms


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, Vanguard learned, authoritatively last night.

 
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 authorise 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.

Vanguard 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 Vanguard: "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."

North'll be more comfortable with S-South in 2023- CNG

Meanwhile, the Coalition of Northern Groups, CNG, has said that the North would be comfortable with a President of South-South extraction in 2023.

Spokesperson of the Coalition, Suleiman Abdul-Azeez, told Vanguard that although the defection of former President Jonathan to APC has not been confirmed, "Yet, I think all the same, you never see smoke without fire. If it does happen eventually, it could be the saving grace. The reality is that the APC may lack the moral correctness to retain power in the North beyond these first eight years of Buhari. If power must shift to the South, the North would be more comfortable with the South-South. It is a more friendly space for the North," he said.

According to the CNG, "Jonathan is by far the most qualified from the South-South among all those that have indicated interest. The problem would be the burden the APC would have to carry having so severely 'de-campaigned' Jonathan just less than eight years ago."

"Unless they first apologize to him and to Nigerians generally and admit they judged his administration against the standards of fair judgment, they would only end up embarrassing themselves in the marketplace."

"Besides it would be really difficult for the APC to convince the Northern voter to accept Jonathan after they bloodied him in 2014. And there is the concern that he may return with a grudge against the North and may not be as fair as would be expected. But taking away all unhealthy possibilities, Jonathan could provide a soothing relief to this current regional tensions being stocked by separatist forces."

APC begins aspirants' screening Friday, rakes in N2.63 bn from presidential forms

Meanwhile, the APC, yesterday, ended its sale of nomination and expression of interest forms, with no fewer than 25 aspirants jostling for its presidential ticket.

Although, the directorate of organization was still computing the figures of aspirants including those who picked forms in their states as of press time, Vanguard gathered that there are no fewer than 105 governorship aspirants, nearly a thousand National Assembly aspirants and more than 1,500 aspirants for states Houses of Assembly.

A revised timetable issued the National Organizing Secretary, Sulaiman Muhammad Argungu, fixed the last day for submission of completed forms and accompanying documents is now set for tomorrow, May 11, 2022. 

"Also, Congresses to elect Local Government Area (LGA), State and National Delegates will now be held from Thursday,  May 12 to Saturday, May 14, 2022".

27 presidential aspirants

1. Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu

2. Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello

3. Ebonyi State Governor, Dave Umahi

4. Minister of State for Education, Emeka Nwajiuba

5. Governor of Ekiti State and Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF), Dr. Kayode Fayemi

6. Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio

7. Madam Uju Kennedy – N30m

8. Vice President Yemi Osinbajo

9. Former House of Representatives Speaker, Dimeji Bankole

10. Former Governor of Ogun State, Senator Ibikunle Amosun

11. Former National Chairman of APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole

12. Former Governor of Zamfara State, Ahmed Sani

13. Jigawa State Governor, Muhammad Badaru Abubakar

14. Labour and Employment Minister, Senator Chris Ngige

15. Senator Rochas Okorocha

16. Cross River State Governor, Ben Ayade

17. Transportation Minister, Rotimi Amaechi

18. Mr Tein Jack-Rich

19. CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele 

20. Science and Technology Minister, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu

21. Minister of State for Petroleum, Chief Timipre Sylva

22. Former President Goodluck Jonathan

23. Dr Akinwumi Adesina

24. Senator Robert Ajayi Borroffice

25. Pastor Tunde Bakare

26. Pastor Nicholas Felix Nwagbo

27. Senator Ken Nnamani

Total = N2.630billion

Why APC should cede presidency to South-West —Sanwo-Olu

Submitting his forms on Tuesday at the International Conference Centre, ICC, Abuja, Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, urged stakeholders to cede the APC presidential ticket to the South-West.

On why the recent meeting of some South-West APC leaders with some presidential aspirants from the zone did not result into a consensus arrangement, the governor said; "That is unfair for you to say we did not arrive at a consensus. You should have asked what the objective was. Did we achieve the objective of that meeting? The answer is yes. We needed to have ourselves in the room, lock up ourselves and have frank conversations, which were exactly what we did. Are we going to have further conversation with the leadership? Yes, I believe so. So, we are not fed up, we were sincere with ourselves and we hope that in future engagements, all the aspirations we have in our region will come to pass".

When asked about zoning, Sanwo-Olu said the South-West deserves the presidential ticket.

"I think we believe so and I think that is what is fair, that is what is just, but it is really about Nigeria. There are aspirations everywhere and there are so many qualified people but for equity and fairness we have in our country, I think it is just morally fair that it goes to that part and South-West is top-notch on that. We believe that our positions from those meetings are still very valid and everybody must consider", he stated.

Blueprint Publisher submits forms

Chairman, Blueprint Newspapers Limited and frontline gubernatorial aspirant of the APC in Niger state, Alhaji Mohammed Idris Malagi has said he would work from his first hour in office as Governor to achieve his agenda of a greater Niger State if given the mandate to fly the flag of his party in the forthcoming governorship election in the state.

Malagi, who addressed journalists after submitting his nomination and expression of interest forms yesterday in Abuja said his roadmap for the development of Niger State will build on the solid foundation that already exists in the state.

He said Niger State is by far one of the frontline states in Nigeria, given its abundant human and natural resources and promised to unleash the capacity of the people of the state to propel the state to an enviable position in the comity of states in Nigeria. 

"Our path to the development of Niger State is clear and unambiguous. I will work from my first hour in office as the Governor of Niger State to unleash potentials of our people; men, women, youth, educated and uneducated, farmers and artisans, traders and everyone else living in all parts of the state to be the best they can be under a stable and secure environment."

Malagi, a media entrepreneur and consummate public relations practitioner is a top contender in the forthcoming governorship primary election of the All Progressives Congress in Niger State. 

Adamu Garba withdraws from race over high cost of forms, withdrawal form

Ahead of the Presidential primaries of the APC, a presidential aspirant, Adamu Garba, has withdrawn from the race, saying he was no longer obtaining the expression of interest and nomination forms because of what he described as the over – financialised and commercialised nature of the party.

Garba said he was also withdrawing from the race because of the attachment of a Letter of Voluntary withdrawal on page 18 of the nomination form.

Addressing Journalists, in Abuja, Garba warned that if the APC failed to check and correct its actions, which started from the period of the contest for the position of National Chairman to the sale of forms for the Presidential ticket and other positions, the party is heading for doom. 

Garba said, "I call this conference to notify Nigerians and my supporters all over the country that after high-level deliberation with our internal campaign team, we have concluded that we will not be obtaining the expression of interest and nomination form for the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria under the platform of the APC. 

"Our team has determined the following: Our generation should not set an example as part of the people that supported the 'financialization/commercialization' of our political space, especially the public office, considering the high cost of the nomination forms – the highest in the world. We believe this action is capable of over-financializing our political space, institutionalizing vote-buying, encouraging corruption, and complete obliteration of the youth and the poor from participation. 

"We further discovered that even if we went ahead to obtain the form, the party has foreclosed the plan for primary election because of the presence of the request for a Letter of Voluntary withdrawal on page 18 of the nomination form.  I cannot, in all honesty, rally funds from my supporters in the hope that we will be having a primary election, then sign a post-dated letter of voluntary withdrawal from the contest. 

"The party, from its convention to this moment, has taken several steps that may likely dent our democratic credentials as we venture into the third decade of our uninterrupted democracy. These steps, if not changed, could reverse the gains we made over time and return us back to centrist, sycophantic, patronage-driven unitary systems, a situation we have to avoid at all costs in the interest of the future of Nigeria."



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