…as Bayelsa chapter confirms his membership
Forces championing the return of former President Goodluck Jonathan to the Aso Rock Villa in 2023 on the platform of the ruling All Progressives Congress have intensified their efforts to field him as the ruling party’s consensus presidential candidate in next year’s general elections.
Towards this end, the Fulani group, which on Monday obtained the APC’s N100m presidential nomination and expression of interest forms for the former president, has said it would submit the forms on Friday (today).
The group stated this as the Bayelsa State chapter of the APC, on Thursday, confirmed Jonathan’s membership of the party.
APC leadership in Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa State confirmed that Jonathan is a registered member of the party.
Although the former president has yet to announce his defection from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), under which he was elected Deputy Governor, Governor, Vice-President and President, the purchase of APC Presidential forms for him had set tongues wagging.
A group called Nomadic Pastoralists and the Almajiri Communities led by one Ibrahim Abdullahi picked up the forms on Jonathan’s behalf on Monday, but it was later learnt that a Northern governor paid for the forms.
Hours after the news went viral, Jonathan’s Media Adviser, Ikechukwu Eze, distanced his principal from the APC presidential race, saying he did not authorise the purchase of forms.
While social media was rife with the news of Jonathan’s defection, a picture of the former President meeting with Abdullahi Adamu, National Chairman of the APC, went viral.
Asked to comment, Jonathan’s spokesman had said he knew nothing about it.
But the chairman of APC in Ogbia ward 13, Mr Igori Freeman, said on Thursday that Jonathan registered with the party immediately after the short-lived victory of David Lyon, the APC candidate in the 2019 governorship election in the state. The Supreme Court had voided the election, paving way for the PDP.
Recall that few days after the election, two APC governors, Atiku Bagudu (Kebbi) and Mai Mala Buni (Yobe), visited Jonathan at his Bayelsa residence.
Jonathan subsequently held a series of meetings with APC stakeholders, both in Abuja and Bayelsa. He also became closer to President Muhammadu Buhari, paying several visits to Aso Rock.
According to Jonathan’s ward chairman, “I know too well that Jonathan registered with APC, but registration is not about publishing to the whole world. The register was with me, it was not only him that registered during that period, some dignitaries from PDP also registered with APC after David Lyon’s victory during 2019 governorship election.
“You can go to the state Chairman and ask him that the ward Chairman believe that Jonathan registered with the party, we have finished with the registration, so I can’t give detail now because I returned all the data after everything. Meet the party Chairman, Chief Dennis Otiotio for more clarification.”
When contacted, the state party Chairman, Dennis Otiotio, said only the APC National Headquarters could comment on the matter.
Otiotio said, “I think you should call the national Secretariat, they will be able to give the true position, the state Secretariat don’t have any knowledge, any information about that.”
Recall that the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) quoted sources as saying Jonathan had accepted to contest the 2023 election under APC.
It added that the former president was expected to submit his expression of interest and nomination forms at the International Conference Centre (ICC), Abuja, on Thursday.
The report further stated that some influential African leaders had advised Jonathan “to contest the election in the interest of Nigeria.
“At least three top African leaders called the former president on the matter. They all urged him to run. One of them specifically told him that it didn’t make sense travelling all over Africa settling disputes only to shy away from leadership responsibility in his home country.”
Jonathan took over power when the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua died in 2010 and contested the 2011 election, which he won.
He lost his reelection to President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015 and acknowledged defeat before the final collation of the election results.