As political actors continue with their permutations for the 2023 presidential election, former President Goodluck Jonathan appears to have become the beautiful bride as the two major political parties in the country, All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), seem to be fighting over who fields him in the forthcoming election.
There are strong indications that a group within the APC is rooting for Jonathan and desperately wants him to cross over to the ruling party and become its standard bearer for the crucial election.
A few days ago, some governors elected on the platform of the APC were at Jonathan’s home in Abuja where they held some discussions with him. Chairman of the APC Caretaker/ Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) and Governor of Yobe State, Mai Mala Buni, led the delegation on that visit. Although they were part of the several dignitaries that visited the former President to felicitate with him on his birthday, New Telegraph learnt that the APC delegation was also on a special political mission.
A source who monitored what transpired during the visit disclosed that the governors, who belong to one of the power blocks within the ruling party, held a private meeting with Jonathan where they offered him an opportunity to join the APC and fly the party’s flag in 2023.
“This is what they are trying to do, but the man appears to be wiser than them. In fact, that visit was a follow up to an earlier contact they had made with him on this same issue, but the man has told them he is not available. He has made it clear to them that he is not available.
“The truth is that they have been meeting with him, but he told them he is not available. Part of the visit was to present Umahi to him and the need for the South to work together. But Jonathan is smarter than them. He told them he is not interested in the presidency,” the source said.
New Telegraph gathered that although Jonathan would have been the last man to be approached for such a deal, those pushing for him to be drafted were doing it because of the internal crisis with the APC and the desperation of the various contending forces to outsmart one another in the political game.
According to our source, the APC currently has as many as four power blocks, each plotting to seize the party structure during the proposed national convention and to deploy same for 2023. “The party is in tatters.
So, every faction is trying to recruit people with some political clout to see how they can swell their numbers before their national convention. They are also trying to see how Jonathan can prevail on Governor Douye Diri of Bayelsa State to join them so that they can have more members.
“You will recall that there was a recent attempt by the interim leadership of the party to embark on membership drive and re-registration of old members, but the other faction has gone to court to stop it because they understand the game plan.
“What you saw in the defection of Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State is also part of the plot to draft in more of such persons to beef up the strength of the power block loyal to President Muhammadu Buhari so that they can regain control of the party.
“But make no mistake, all this romance with Jonathan is just to create confusion in the South. How can you reconcile the position of the APC on Jonathan and the PDP and the current move by some of their governors to woo him to join them? So, I can tell you that what you are seeing is a manifestation of the crisis in APC,” our source said.
However, Ikechukwu Eze, Media Assistant to the former President told one of our correspondents on telephone that there was nothing extraordinary about the visit of the APC governors to Jonathan.
According to Eze, several eminent Nigerians from across the political divides also visited Jonathan to celebrate with him on his birthday. He, however, ruled out speculations that Jonathan may be considering the offer of crossing over to the ruling party.
“People just chose to read meaning into it because we are in political era. There is nothing unusual with the visit. PDP governors visited him, just like during el-Rufai’s daughter’s wedding. It was an occasion of his birthday, and as a former president, he cannot shut door against anybody.
“Jonathan is an elder statesman. Did he tell anybody he is running for presidency? People are free to speculate, there is nothing unusual about the APC governors’ visit,” Eze insisted. In the meantime, the PDP has described the visit by the APC governors as an endorsement of the achievements of PDP administrations which the ruling party had refused to acknowledge before now.
National Publicity Secretary of PDP, Kola Ologbondiyan, said the visit was an apology by the APC to the party and Nigerians over the lies and unfounded allegations deployed by the APC to grab power in 2015.
According to Ologbondiyan, the visit was an indication that APC, in 2015, only created artificial symbols of misgovernance, corruption and other alleged misgivings just to discredit PDP to grab power to achieve its selfish desires. He said that the visit was also an affirmation that Nigeria was better under the PDP, contrary to the position of the APC
This visit to Jonathan by the APC governors is a direct acceptance of the successes recorded by our party in building a strong nation with a virile economy that was rated as one of the fastest growing economies of the world.
“It is evident that the Jonathan administration succeeded in office basically because our party understands the nuances of our nation, which we translated into people-oriented policies and programmes, in line with the manifesto of our party, to make life comfortable for Nigerians.
“The visit is, therefore, a subtle step by APC governors into the corridors of the PDP in agreement that our party holds the solution to the myriads of problems brought to our nation by their APC and President Muhammadu Buhari.
“We, therefore, caution Nigerians to be watchful of the antics of the APC that have failed in governance and the management of its own affairs
For us in the PDP, the unity, stability, progress and development of our dear nation remain paramount and, as such, we will not allow the failed APC and its pranksters, who have betrayed the trust of Nigerians, to mislead them once again,” the PDP spokesman said.
But, Deputy National Publicity Secretary of APC, Yekini Nabena, has expressed surprise that the PDP had become “rattled and disoriented” by the recent courtesy visit by some APC governors to Jonathan.
Nabena said that at a time when the PDP and its leadership were grappling with a crisis of confidence, one would have expected the opposition to focus on building itself up instead of seeking relevance because of a mere visit. He said that as a party for all progressives, the APC will continue to consolidate on what he described as its national appeal and acceptance.
“The PDP is obviously rattled and disoriented by the recent courtesy visit by some governors of the APC to former President Jonathan. “At a time when the PDP and its leadership are grappling with a crisis of confidence, one would expect the failed opposition party to focus on picking itself up,” Nabena said.