Associates of former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan in the south are tinkering with the idea of pushing his candidacy in the 2023 presidential race.
Their calculation is that the presidency can return to the North in 2027 since Jonathan, if he wins in 2023, will be ineligible to contest again.
Jonathan, who remains a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), lost his bid for a second term in 2015 when he was defeated by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Political allies and former aides of the Bayelsa-born politician, recently met in Abuja to discuss the possibility of his contesting the 2023 presidential election.
Sources knowledgeable about the development said some prominent chieftains of the PDP have bought into the idea on account of the zoning principle.
Although the former president himself is yet to openly signify interest in the race, some of his allies, who do not want to be named, said discussions are ongoing following growing appeal from some prominent Nigerians and groups to him.
One of the sources said: “especially with the growing concern about zoning, we are discussing all possibilities. Political leaders and other stakeholders from the North and the South are talking about it.”
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Sources also said the Abuja meeting was convened by two chieftains of the Southern Nigerian Consultative Forum (SNCF) possibly after discussions with the former president and his associates.
It was gathered that the plot to draft Jonathan into the race may not be unconnected with fears that the North plans to field candidates for the next presidential election contrary to the principle of rotating the presidency between the North and the South.
Said a source: “At the meeting were known supporters of the former president within and outside the PDP; including former governors, ministers, serving and former National Assembly members, among many others. They gathered to discuss the possibility and modalities of supporting Jonathan to run for the PDP ticket in 2023.
“From the discussion, it was obvious that PDP leaders, especially from the south, are determined to field a candidate that can win the next presidential election for the zone,” a former governor from the Southwest said while confirming moves by allies of the ex-president to position him for the race.
A former principal officer of the House of Representatives from the South confirmed moves to draft Jonathan into the race and said associates of the former president, realising the need for very wide consultation on the matter, recently met with some leaders of the Afenifere, Ohanaeze Ndigbo and the Niger Delta on the matter.
According to him, some young northern members of the PDP are also interested in the Jonathan candidacy for certain reasons.
His words: “It was after our meeting with the elder statesmen that the Abuja meeting you talked about was convened. As I speak with you now, I can say consultation is ongoing.
“Also, there is this group of young northern PDP chieftains who are concerned about how perceived inequalities in the implementation of the zoning principle since 1999 can be corrected.
2023 Presidency: APC Chieftain, Gololo warns Jonathan not to run
A Chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Dr. Garus Gololo, on Sunday, warned former Nigeria’s President, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan against contesting the 2023 presidential election.
Though Gololo admitted that it would be the turn of the South to produce the next President, but he said it would certainly not favour Jonathan as it is no longer for South-South region.
Gololo, while speaking to newsmen in Abuja on Sunday, said it would be foolhardy for Jonathan to think he could still win any election in Nigeria.
Some northern groups and associates of Jonathan in the South, according to Sunday’s Nation newspaper edition, had reportedly met in Abuja, while considering drafting the Bayelsa-born politician to gun for 2023 Presidency.
Their calculation is that, the Presidency can return to the North in 2027 since Jonathan, if he wins in 2023, will be ineligible to contest again.
But Gololo, while reacting to questions, said such calculation was evil and selfish.
He said, “I’m from the North and I want to say it emphatically that power should return to the South in 2023 for eight years.
“Northerners are not the only Nigerians in this country. I can’t support such evil and selfish permutations. And for Jonathan, he should rather go and rest. If he dares to contest, we shall do to him what we did in 2015”.
Dr. Gololo also warned the former President to be weary of some political jobbers who may be muting the idea of drafting him into the contest.
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He said, “there is nothing wrong in asking someone to come out to contest, but what makes the difference is the votes. The votes shall decide who becomes the next President and if PDP like, let them give it to Jonathan, same fate shall repeat itself, like in 2015”.
When asked which region should produce the next President from the South and if he had anyone in mind, the national APC Chieftain said there are many other capable hands in the South that can deliver.
“It must not be Jonathan. He was there before and we all know what happened then. Let’s try fresh people who have capacity. Asiwaju Bola Tinubu is there. He has enough capacity.
“I would even prefer PDP giving it to Jonathan so we all mobilise and team up for Tinubu in APC and Jonathan’s defeat will shock him, like Donald Trump. We are wise now and this country is bigger than any individual”, Gololo added.