Two days after former President Goodluck Jonathan got a reprieve from a Federal High Court, removing the constitutional obstruction that now makes him eligible to contest 2023 presidency, President Muhammadu Buhari has distanced himself from any plot to draft Jonathan into the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential race.
Indications have emerged that while few APC members, including a Northern governor, are behind the push to draft Jonathan into the ruling party’s presidential primary, a Presidency source late on Sunday, however, revealed that President Buhari has taken measures to distance himself from the plot.
The impeccable source in the Villa disclosed that instructions have consequently been given that there shall be no public release of photos of any meetings between the former President and the incumbent at this time as the President does not want such images to be used to confer any modicum of support to the plot to get Jonathan into the race.
According to the source, there are also concerns that the aides of the ex-President are “involved in actively keeping the plot alive in the media by releasing photos of his visits to the APC Chairman, Senator Abdullahi Adamu and Alhaji Mamman Daura, the President’s influential nephew, to insinuate that these two gentlemen are in support of the plot.”
However, while speculative news reports have claimed the APC has granted Jonathan waiver to join the presidential race even though he is not known to have properly fulfilled membership requirements, there has not been any formal confirmation that he submitted the presidential nomination forms or whether he would be included in the screening expected to happen this week.
Meanwhile, the source added that the former president is not being precluded from visiting the Presidential Villa at this time in line with protocol, being a former President in good standing and due to his international assignments for which he has to regularly brief President Buhari.
Although President Buhari has not indicated who he is backing for the APC presidential primary, the Presidency source explained that “Jonathan is certainly not in the picture at all and the mentioning of his name has been invoking feelings of absurdity and ridicule in the Villa.”
The source recalled that “when during a public interview earlier this year, a journalist asked the president to use one word to describe the PDP, he instantly said ‘failure,’ how then would the same person who strongly feels that way would then be contemplating supporting the same PDP candidate he roundly defeated?”
It was also disclosed that neither the APC Chairman nor Daura are behind the plot to draft Jonathan, as it is being suggested. According to the source, “it’s only the aides of the ex-president that are going to town to create such an impression.”
The source further added: “All of these plots would be over in a matter of days as the APC presidential primaries are now irretrievably set and the President’s choice would be known.”
ALSO, former Secretary to the Federal Government, Chief Olu Falae, has attributed the plot to draft Jonathan into the race to the desperate attempt by some powerful forces to quickly return power to the North after his one term in 2027.
Falae, who faulted the moves while speaking with journalists in Akure, the Ondo state capital, yesterday, wondered how Jonathan that was booted out over incompetency and corruption, suddenly became a beautiful bride to the powerful forces from the North.
He, however, maintained that the country could only move forward if she embraces restructuring, noting that the present constitution of the country is faulty and should be replaced to move the country forward.
“There could never be peace in the country with this quasi-unitary Constitution, which is what some people want to hang on to because it suits them in a faulty arrangement, without doing the needful.
“The man you threw away from government, describing him an incompetent man, an idiot, an imbecile and there was no name they didn’t call him and you are calling him back to ask him to come back to rule.
“And there is only one reason for that. The only reason they are asking Goodluck to come back is that he will spend one term as President. They don’t want the presidency to be in the South for more than four years.
“They want it quickly back in the North. So they want to use Goodluck to achieve that objective against his own people. They don’t care what he does if he goes back this time around and is a ‘bigger thief’ this time, or if he is more incompetent this time, it does not bother them as long as they get back to power quickly. Are we on the same plane? Do we have the same objective?
“They will sacrifice anything Nigeria as long as they get what they want. So, this is where we are, and that’s why we need a political party not what I call an opportunistic gang up for power. That’s what PDP is; that’s what APC is – opportunistic gang up for power, not parties.
“So, without restructuring, we are wasting our time because the English man was not a fool when he gave us a truly federal constitution. It is within the ambit of a truly federal constitution that 448 different ethnic nationalities can co-exist with reasonable amity and peace,” he said.
MEANWHILE, President Buhari has been urged to adopt the consensus method for the forthcoming APC presidential primary to protect the nation’s currency. According to a founding member of the party, Mr. Osita Okechukwu, who made the plea in an interaction with journalists in Abuja, yesterday, he said using indirect methodology opens the primary to monetisation and depreciation of the naira.
While pointing out that a nation’s currency is one of the critical indices of measuring the general health of its economy, Okechukwu stressed that when the currency nose-dives, hyper-inflation, gross unemployment and abject poverty ensue thereby worsening the nation’s security.
Okechukwu, who is also the Director General of the Voice of Nigeria (VON), said: “Sincerely, I congratulate Atiku Abubakar on his emergence from the opposition party primary, but, as a patriot and stakeholder in the Nigeria project, I am worried by PDP’s induced dollar rain, which led to unprecedented depreciation of the Naira. If that could happen in a party with about 731 delegates, imagine what will happen if APC with about 2,322 delegates is allowed to indulge in dollar rain.”
HOWEVER, the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum (SMBLF) has described the emergence of Atiku as a brazing affront on the people of Southern Nigeria.
In a statement jointly signed by Senator Bassey Ewa-Henshaw of PANDEF, Okey Emuchay of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, Jare Ajayi of Afenifere, Dr. Isuwa Dogo of Middle Belt Forum (MBF) and Ken Robinson, Acting Coordinator of SMBLF, the leaders roundly rejected the candidacy of Atiku and called on true lovers of peace and unity not to vote for him or any other Northerner next year in the interest of posterity.
“Again, SMBLF calls on all politicians of Southern extraction to refuse the position of a running mate to any Northern presidential candidate, which will equally be viewed as subjugating their people to political slavery.”
Lamenting the outcome of the PDP presidential primary, Secretary-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, Mazu Okechukwu Isiguzoro, described Atiku’s emergence as an erratic and corrupt process that was overseen by the North against the South.
“It’s amusing that PDP is now a political party for the Northern region, with Dr Iyocha Ayu as Chair, Walid Jubril as BOT Chair and Atiku as 2023 presidential candidate, all from Northern Nigeria. Another Northerner, Senator David Mark, supervised the process that schemed out Igbo from PDP.
“The outcome of the PDP primary is a pointer that Igbo should boycott the presidential election as a protest in response to the grand conspiracy against Ndigbo. We are waiting for the APC presidential primary to take the final decision on whether or not if Igbos will participate in the 2023 elections,” he said.
HOW Ndigbo will return to national politics in 2023 will dominate a proposed meeting of Igbo leaders scheduled for Enugu State next week. The Guardian gathered that the meeting followed the outcome of the PDP presidential primary last weekend as well as the widely held notion that the APC, whose primary is billed for next week, could toe a similar line of giving a Northerner its presidential ticket.
It was gathered that the Enugu meeting, which would involve political leaders across party lines and religious leaders from the zone would also weigh the possibility of the region producing the vice president or pulling its support base to any other political platform that may give an Igbo person its presidential ticket.
Although other details about the meeting remained sketchy as of press time, Ohanaeze Ndigbo in reaction to the emergence of Atiku, stated that it was not surprised, reiterating however that the development notwithstanding, Ndigbo would not accept the running mate of any candidate.
Ohanaeze Ndigbo stated that Ndigbo would contest the presidency of the country in 2023, as a matter of justice, equity and fairness, stressing that the move by the PDP to “repay the zone with the denial of the presidency would be resisted.”
National Publicity Secretary of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Dr Alex Ogbonnia, told The Guardian yesterday that “Igbo are still focused on the presidency. The PDP has done their own and that of the APC is still being expected. The outcome of these primaries will determine our next move. We are not making calculations on the Vice Presidential running mate for now. Ohanaeze will speak on that at the right time.
“One thing I can tell you is that Mr Peter Obi is still in the race for the presidency. He is contesting under the Labour party and our people will not rest until we get a ticket for the presidency.”
Also reacting, former National Chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Chief Chekwas Okorie, stated that the emergence of Atiku lent credence to his earlier position that neither PDP nor the APC would give its presidential ticket to the Southeast.
Okorie, who recently resigned from APC to rejoin APGA, stated that it was unfortunate that PDP could not concede its ticket to the Southeast after several years of sacrifice by the people of the region to project the party.
JOIN the moving train of the ballot revolution of the working people crystallising in the Labour Party, the Third Force Movement under the umbrella of the National Consultative Front (NCFront) has urged leaders of conscience in the country. This is coming against the backdrop that the Third Force Movement has adopted Labour Party as the alternative ‘Big Tent’ for the 2023 elections.
This call was made by Head of Public Affairs of NCFront, Dr Tanko Yunusa, in Asaba, Delta State, while addressing supporters and delegates of the Labour Party, who were in the city to attend the presidential primary of the party today at the Orchid Hotels, GRA, Asaba.
Yunusa, in company of other party chieftains and bigwigs also used the occasion to carpet the ‘cash and carry’ primaries of the APC and PDP, describing it as corruptive and criminal, calling on the EFCC to immediately go after the candidates and delegates of the APC and PDP for destroying Nigeria’s electoral system and moral fabric.
The Front, while also applauding the bubbling political synergy between two leading presidential aspirants of the party, Peter Obi and Pat Utomi, also condemned the activities of some disgruntled elements and sponsored agents by APC and PDP in the media, trying to create a false picture of disunity in the party.
THE Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN) has faulted the alleged inducement of party delegates with money by aspirants in the ongoing primaries of the different political parties. It lamented that party delegates are mortgaging the future and the already terrible situation of the country.
Speaking to journalists during Mass to mark the 2022 World Communication Day yesterday in Abuja, CSN Director, Social Communication, Rev Fr. (Dr) Michael Nsikak Umoh, observed that what transpired during the primaries showed that party delegates are not choosing those who can help the people and the country out of their present predicaments but those who have given them money.
Also, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), on Sunday, faulted the process that produced Atiku as PDP presidential candidate. The group warned the second-biggest party, the ruling APC, to move against a Northern candidate and make a Southerner, especially a candidate of Southeast extraction, its presidential flag bearer in the spirit of fairness and to preserve the unity of Nigeria.
HURIWA, in a statement by its National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, said Atiku’s emergence was allegedly heavily compromised by undue monetisation and the PDP delegates gave their candidate’s slot to the highest bidder.