Former President Goodluck Jonathan is currently under intense heat to defect to the All Progressives Congress (APC) and enter the 2023 presidential race.
While the Jonathan media handlers have been busy claiming that the ex-president is more interested in running his Foundation, Menas Associates in Nigeria Politics & Security, its weekly intelligence report on Nigeria says ‘’Jonathan is not disinterested in the 2023 presidential election’’.
According to the report, ‘’on December 5, he declined to rule himself out of the race following rumours that he is under pressure to take part. He deflected the question by saying it is too early to say but in January 2020 he expressly rejected the suggestion that he had ambitions to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari in 2023’’.
His Spokesman, Ikechukwu Eze, said that his principal’s only interest is in running his Foundation. Since then, however, there have been moves to drag him into the election and, interestingly, it is coming from a circle of the ruling APC rather than Jonathan’s own People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
On November 20, a delegation of APC governors, including Governor Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State visited him to celebrate his 63rd birthday with him.
Sources close to Jonathan claimed that the visit was part of the efforts by a section of the party to woo him into joining APC before possibly making him its candidate in 2023.
Menas’ intelligence report on Nigeria says Bagudu’s presence lent credence to the speculation that Jonathan is being courted.
‘’Bagudu is one of the APC’s would-be aspirants to succeed Buhari but his ambition is threatened by the party’s Western Nigeria faction determination to ensure that the Presidency is zoned to the South.
‘’There are concerns that the APC will disintegrate if attempts are made to retain the Presidency in the North when it meets to zone it sometime next year. This is why the Jonathan option is becoming increasingly attractive to an APC faction that is close to the Presidency.
‘’He is seen as a safe pair of hands who will not rock the boat if he is given power. He not only accepted his 2015 defeat — the first-time that the opposition won a Nigerian presidential election — but has largely avoided criticising his successor since he left office.
‘’He has also basically worked with the Buhari government by serving as an envoy to several countries on election monitoring missions, and has built a reputation as a democrat and man of peace who is interested in good governance.
‘’Jonathan is also unlikely to investigate any of Buhari’s close associates if he is given power which is a key consideration for those close to the Presidency because they do not want to be embarrassed when Buhari leaves office’’, the report says.
Arguably, those pushing for Jonathan’s presidency are more interested because it will lead to a quick return of power to the North. For Bagudu, a Jonathan Presidency will mean he could have a shot at the Presidency in 2027 because Jonathan can now only serve a single term having already served one term.
For Menas Associates, ‘’one of the ideas being floated is a Jonathan-Bagudu ticket. Bagudu will prefer to be a vice presidential running mate on a Jonathan ticket than as running mate to Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State who is also interested in running in 2023 if power shifts to the South.
‘’Bagudu fears that Fayemi will expect to be a two-term president so that the earliest he or anyone from the North will have a shot after him would be in 2031.’’