Contrary to rumors that the immediate past president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, is out of the race for the governing All Progressives Congress, APC, presidential ticket because he did not submit his nomination form, the press has learned yesterday that he is still in the contest.
Some PDP officials, led by Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State, met with Jonathan earlier this week to persuade him to stay in the party and attend the party’s presidential convention on Saturday.
According to reports, the decision to put Jonathan in the race was partially responsible for the much-delayed vetting of APC presidential aspirants.
Aside from the problem of forming a screening committee of seven men to be led by the National Chairman, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, the panel has to be given a list of aspirants to be screened.
It was also gathered that the bid by some powerful Northern political leaders to draft Jonathan into the presidency of Nigeria in 2023 is gaining momentum, with the endorsement of the idea by a cross-section of Northern political stakeholders.
The press however learned last night that although the idea has been pushed to President Muhammadu Buhari by his henchmen, he has neither rejected nor openly endorsed it as of the time of writing this report.
A source close to Jonathan’s camp confirmed that the bid by Jonathan to fly the APC flag in the 2023 presidential election is on course but declined to give details of the process and who the promoters are.
The source was confident that barring any unforeseen political development, Jonathan might emerge the consensus candidate of the APC and win next year’s presidential poll with a wide margin.
The former president is said to have made some contacts with some powerful persons close to the president, who are also pushing the agenda to secure him the APC ticket.
The source said: “There have been a series of political stakeholders’ engagements and many more are still being held in a bid to finalise the details of the process and we are confident Jonathan will emerge the candidate of the party.
“Although there have been some back and forth developments relating to the project, there is clear hope now since the necessary contacts have been made and are still being made to advance the cause of the former Nigerian leader.
“The former president is likely to get the ticket of the APC largely because the majority of the stakeholders and supporters of other presidential aspirants are on his side, having seen and known that their principals will not be able to make it.”
Giving further insight into why the North is rooting for Jonathan, the source said the former president is seen as a trusted ally of the region, given what he did for them when he was in power and that he is possibly going to pick a Northern Muslim as his vice, as opposed to a leading aspirant from the South-West, who would likely choose a Christian vice president.
Another source told newsmen why Jonathan is still in the race.
“They (Presidency Cabal) persuaded him that he is the chosen one. He got the nomination form but when he could not get any guarantee from President Buhari, he hesitated.
‘’The party created room for those who collected the forms late to fill and submit. Jonathan took advantage of the window and submitted the forms.
“The cabal persisted. All sorts of stakeholders’ meetings were held to convince him he is the chosen one. He told his associates that he is discussing with them but wants to get a firm assurance from the President.
‘’Clearly, it is either the President or the cabal who convinced him to run. That is one of the reasons delaying the screening of the presidential aspirants,” the source said.