THE All Progressives Congress (APC) has given credence to trending speculations that it plans to field former President Goodluck Jonathan as its presidential candidate in 2023.
Jonathan, currently a member of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), was Nigerian president from 2010 to 2015. He was vice president of Nigeria from 2007 to 2010 under the administration of Umaru Musa Yar’Adua but became president when Yar’Adua died in 2010.
Jonathan lost to Muhammadu Buhari of the APC while seeking reelection in 2015.
In the build-up to the 2023 elections, several unconfirmed reports have suggested that the leadership of the APC wants to give Jonathan the party’s ticket for the presidential election.
The reports have hitherto been regarded as mere speculations.
But the leadership of the APC appears to have given credence to the speculations, stating that Jonathan would be given the chance to contest the 2023 presidential elections on its platform if he joins the party.
National Secretary of the APC Caretaker and Extra-ordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) John Akpanudoedehe commented on speculations that Jonathan would join the party and be offered the presidential ticket, when he appeared on Channels Television on September 15.
Akpanudoedehe, who currently acts as the spokesman of the APC, said, “I am hearing that for the first time that we are expecting the former president (Jonathan). That will be great news. We will welcome him; that will also strengthen the party.
“The last National Executive Council (NEC) of the party actually gave a blanket approval to any individual that if you join APC today, it is as if you are a founding member of the party.
“So, anyone who joins today has the same opportunity to run for any office in this party. It has always been so, so I am not speculating.”
Speculations that the APC was planning to field Jonathan as its flagbearer in the 2023 presidential poll started after a delegation of northern governors visited Jonathan in 2020. The group was led by Acting Chairman of the APC and Governor of Yobe State Mai Mala Buni.
The alleged plan to give Jonathan the APC ticket was supposedly hinged on the belief that the former president could only serve one term, a development which which would allow power to ‘quickly’ return to the north.
Incumbent President Buhari is from the North and it is believed that northern leaders in the APC intend to placate agitations for power shift to the South – in line with an informal rotational arrangement – by offering the presidency to Jonathan and then taking it back after four years.
Should Jonathan return as president in 2023, he can only serve one term of four years, having served a full term in the past.
Before now, a former governor of Jigawa State Sule Lamido had appeared to give credence to the speculations when he attacked the APC governors for ‘wooing’ Jonathan.
“They, the APC governors, are looking for him (Jonathan). Is it because there are no presidential materials in the APC? This is one of the heights of hypocrisy,” Lamido said while reacting to the development on Arise Television in February.
However, APC Caretaker Chairman Buni had also in February denied reports that the party was planning to make Jonathan its presidential candidate.
Noting that Buhari had assured that the party’s presidential candidate would not be decided or crowned in Abuja, Buni said, “Then who are we to say we are considering Jonathan? How? It has to be a party affair and once it is a party affair, then we are talking about the people. So, we have nothing like that in our agenda.”
He added that there was ‘nothing beneath’ the earlier visit to the former president.
On his part, Jonathan had, before now, described his rumoured presidential ambition as ‘mere speculation,’ without entirely dismissing the report that he was being wooed to run on the APC platform in 2023.
Speaking on March 5 during a condolence visit to Delta State Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, Jonathan said, “On the rumour of my interest in the 2023 presidential election, it is mere speculation. I will continue to serve God, humanity, Africa and the world to the best of my ability and with all sense of commitment and sincerity.”
In July, campaign posters littered the streets of the country, bearing the caption – #JonathanMalami2023 – and the images of Jonathan and the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) Abubakar Malami.
The posters had the logo of the APC, further fuelling speculations that the ruling party leaders were determined to convince Jonathan to run for president.
The posters suggested that Jonathan and Malami would present a joint bid for the APC ticket for the 2023 presidential poll. The posters indicated that Jonathan would seek another round in Aso Rock as president with Malami as vice president.
Malami, however, distanced himself from the poster and the 2023 presidential poll.