Former president joining our party, running for office will be one of the wonders of the century, says Umahi
•N100m forms: Presidential aspirant defects, alleges party has commercialised primary process
•High cost of APC, PDP presidential forms worries Kukah
•Warns Nigerians unwittingly pushing for plutocracy
Chuks Okocha, Deji Elumoye, Onyebuchi Ezigbo and Sunday Aborisade in Abuja
Fresh facts have emerged from the recent meeting in Abuja between the former president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, and National Chairman of the governing All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Abdullahi Adamu, which was held behind closed doors.
The revelation from the meeting emerged just as the APC last night extended the sale of its nomination and expression of interest forms to Thursday May 12, 2022, while aspirants who had already bought forms are now expected to start submitting same on Friday May 13. According to a three-paragraph statement from the ruling party, although the original deadline for sale of forms was yesterday, the two work-free days observed last week were said to have encroached into the original timetable. Hence, the extension.
“Following the new submission date, APC has fixed Saturday May 14 and Sunday May 15 for screening of all aspirants that have returned their duly completed and signed nomination and expression of interest forms to the APC Secretariat,” it added.
The meeting between Jonathan and Adamu took place amid wide speculation that APC was hatching a deal with the former president to adopt him as the party’s presidential candidate ahead of the 2023 general election.
But a reliable source said Jonathan, currently a member of the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), told Adamu he would join the presidential race on the ruling party’s platform only if he was assured of being made the consensus candidate.
However, Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State, also a presidential aspirant under APC, said the participation of Jonathan in the party’s presidential primaries this month would be another wonder of the world.
The governor’s comment came as one of the presidential aspirants on the APC platform, Adamu Garba, left the party yesterday over the N100 million cost of its presidential nomination and expression of interest forms. Garba said the humongous sum was tantamount to commercialisation of the APC presidential ticket.
In a similar vein, Catholic Bishop of the Sokoto Diocese, His Grace Matthew Hassan Kukah, expressed worry over the huge amounts being charged presidential aspirants by the two major political parties, APC and PDP. Kukah said the country was walking the fine line between democracy and plutocracy, but might soon jettison the former.
The meeting between Jonathan and Adamu took place few hours after a Fulani group, under the aegis of Nomadic Pastoralists and the Almajiri Communities, purchased the ruling party’s nomination and expression of interest forms for the former president.
However, THISDAY reliably learnt late last night that people like Chief Mike Oghiadomhe, Jonathan’s Chief of Staff while he was in office and some other close aides to the former president are opposed to him running at all because they feel he would be disgraced down the line. “They were the people that drafted the hard-line press statement earlier yesterday, which was withdrawn few minutes after for the statement currently in circulation, because they don’t want him to run. As you may have noticed, the second statement was watered down version of the first one ”
The source who is familiar with the ongoing talks disclosed, “The former president just wants a coronation as the presidential ticket bearer.”
The response of the APC chairman to Jonathan’s request for consensus presidential ticket was not clear. But THISDAY learnt that while only President Muhammadu Buhari could give the final approval for such an agreement, interest groups within the party would oppose such an arrangement.
THISDAY’s findings further revealed that in the one-hour meeting between Jonathan and Adamu, the demand of the former president was neither rejected nor accepted.
The meeting, held between 9pm and 10pm, and was organised in a bid to sort out grey issues concerning Jonathan’s bid to fly the APC presidential flag in next year’s poll.
It was gathered that if the consensus candidacy deal goes through, the former president might have the governor of Borno State, Professor Babagana Zulum, as his running mate.
“Granting him his request as a consensus candidate is still dicey because of the presidential declaration of Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele,” the source said.
The source, who is one of Jonathan’s relations, told THISDAY, “The former president gave the condition that all hurdles that could stand against him becoming the consensus candidate of the APC should be cleared before he would formally join the APC and the presidential race.
“Nothing is guaranteed. The meeting was part of the usual meetings since Sunday, but heightened with the purchase of the presidential form.
“You could see that the first statement by Oga’s aide said he was not consulted before the purchase of the presidential form and, therefore, it should be disregarded. The second statement from the same person was more subtle, stating that there is no commitment from the side of President Jonathan.
“From the two statements, one thing that is clear is that the APC national chairman did not confirm that he (Jonathan) will be the consensus presidential candidate. Abdullahi Adamu told him that he could not categorically assure that he will become the consensus candidate without further clarification from the president, who was outside the country.”
The brother and former aide of Jonathan summed up the discussion at the meeting, thus, “Nothing was guaranteed and, hence, Oga said he was not committed to the pursuit of his presidential ambition on the platform of the APC.”
The former aide said the grey issues to clear up regarding Jonathan’s potential candidacy on the platform of APC included the proposed one-term of four years.
According to reports, the confusion that followed the purchase of the presidential form for Jonathan arose because of the spirited efforts by his loyalists in PDP to dissuade him from joining APC and running on its platform. Jonathan’s supporters were said to believe doing that would mean belittling his image.
Another reliable source said the former president had earlier met with the APC leadership last Sunday and concluded plans to accept the nomination form, but he was strongly discouraged by his close friends, who advised him to remain in PDP.
The source said, “These people have been pressurising Jonathan until the very last minute not to accept to run on the APC ticket, no matter how tempting the conditions may be.
“That was why the former president did not present himself to the APC national chairman on Sunday, when the form was to be formally presented to him by the Almajiri group, who wanted to show him appreciation for what he did for them during his tenure by building schools and rehabilitating them.”
The source, speaking on what prompted Jonathan to meet Adamu, said, “The main argument of those opposed to Jonathan running on the APC ticket is that it would be belittling to his image and standing in the world for him to do so, given where he has been and what he represents as a former president of Nigeria.
“But the point is that the deadline for picking the form is this week and if he does not accept the form, the window would be closed and the opportunity lost.
“That was why the former president had to meet Adamu last night and their meeting was very productive, as both men came out happily at the end of the one-hour meeting in Adamu’s house in Abuja.”
The chairman of Bayelsa State chapter of APC, Dennis Otiotio, said the former president was at liberty to join the party, even though he was yet to register. Otiotio spoke to newsmen in a telephone interview, saying he is not aware of Jonathan’s membership.
The APC state chairman said, “The former president is not yet a registered member of APC. He is free to join any party of his choice.
“We are open and willing to receive him into our fold. As a political party desirous of winning elections, the only way to go is by admitting people into the party.”
Following the purchase of the presidential form for him, the former president had said in a statement by his media adviser, Ikechukwu Eze, that he was not aware of the development and did not authorise it.
The statement released on Monday read, “It has come to the notice of His Excellency, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, that a group has purportedly purchased Presidential Nomination and Expression of Interest forms of the APC in his name. We wish to categorically state that Dr. Jonathan was not aware of this bid and did not authorise it. While we appreciate the overwhelming request by a cross-section of Nigerians for Dr. Jonathan to make himself available for the 2023 presidential election, we wish to state, that he has not in anyway, committed himself to this request.
“We thank the general public for their concern, as we continue to encourage citizens’ participation in the affairs of the country.”
Jonathan Will Be a Hard Sell for APC, Says Umahi
Ebonyi State Governor Dave Umahi warned that Jonathan would be difficult to elect as APC’s presidential candidate in the 2023 general election. The governor told newsmen yesterday after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari, at the State House, Abuja, that it would be difficult for the ruling party to campaign with Jonathan as its presidential candidate.
Umahi, who is one of the 26 presidential aspirants of APC, said although there had been denials of the former president’s rumoured move to APC, if he eventually defected to the ruling party, it would be a material for the Guinness Book of Records. He wondered how APC would reconcile its policies and promises with those of PDP under which Jonathan was president from 2010 to 2015.
According to Umahi, “The reason is that if you go and see the campaign programmes of APC and you now ask President Jonathan to come and run, I don’t know what will be our campaign promises and what will be the stories we will be telling Nigerians.
“I believe strongly that he was not aware of the forms and I want to believe that people that are mischievous would have bought the forms to embarrass him.
“But from what I read, he has quickly distanced himself from that. Like I said, if that is not the case, then the Guinness Book of Records is not totally filled up.”
On his views about Jonathan joining the presidential race, the governor recounted that God used the former president and his wife for him to emerge as Ebonyi State governor seven years ago.
Umahi stated, “Jonathan is my father and God used him and the wife to make me governor of the state and so, anybody who has done anything for me, I’ve always remained very grateful to such a person and I will continue to be very grateful to him, the wife for being available and my destiny helper.
“Probably if that miracle did not take place, then the miracles that happened in Ebonyi State, in terms of total evolution and transformation, wouldn’t have taken place.
“So, he is a man we cannot forget, just like Sani Abacha, who created the state and Mr. President. Of course, we have named the airport after him, we have named the light tunnel after him, we have named the Presidential Lodge after him.”
Umahi, however, stressed that it would be a wonder ran for president on the APC platform.
He stated, “Good intention that we don’t forget people who have helped us, but on the question of joining, I may not say much about that because I’ve seen a lot of write ups, denials, but if he decides to join and to run, it will, for me, become one of the wonders in this century.”
APC Presidential Aspirant Defects, Alleges Adamu Has Commercialised Primary Process
Adamu Garba announced his defection from APC yesterday, saying he would disclose his new party within the next few days. He advised those who had contributed money to his campaign to seek refund immediately.
Garba spoke at a news conference in Abuja.
He said, “We have recorded the sum of N81, 750,000.00 in private donations and N1, 457, 794.70 in online donations, totalling N83, 207,794.70.
“We sincerely, immensely, and graciously thank everyone for these wonderful contributions and donations, including those who made theirs anonymously.
“We, however, request that all those who donated online and who require a refund send an email with evidence of payment to email@example.com. I assure you of a complete refund upon request.
“Those that made private donations, we know them, we will meet them and settle this out.”
Garba added, “Incidentally, if your donations are done for pursuing our course for the presidency of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in the coming 2023 election, the battle is not over yet. Kindly do bear with us for further directives in the coming days.
“I deeply, immensely appreciate my supporters, friends, well-wishers, and the well-meaning Nigerian youth who contributed unceasingly to this journey.”
He alleged that the Senator Abdullahi Adamu-led National Working Committee (NWC) of APC had commercialised the process leading to the emergence of a credible candidate for the party in the 2023 presidential election.
He also expressed fear that the leadership of the party could further compromise the process with the inclusion of the voluntary withdrawal form in the nomination and expression of interest forms.
Garba predicted that the NWC might adopt consensus to pick an anointed candidate and ask other aspirants, who had obtained forms with N100 million, to seek refund.
He maintained that the NWC’s latest directive that 10 statutory delegates must sign the forms of the aspirants had automatically made the party’s ticket accessible only to the highest bidder.
According to Garba, “Information at our disposal has it that some aspirants are paying as much as N50, 000 to each statutory delegate to get their forms signed.
“After high-level deliberation with our internal campaign team, we have concluded that we will not be obtaining the expression of interest and nomination form for the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria under the platform of the APC.”
Nigerians Unwittingly Pushing for Plutocracy, Says Kukah
Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, His Grace Matthew Hassan Kukah, spoke on the topic, “Citizens Participation in a Democracy,” during a brief ceremony to mark the 60th birthday of veteran civil society activist, and Director of the Policy and Legislative Advocacy Centre (PLAC), Mr. Clement Nwankwo. Kukah said Nigeria could not get the right citizens’ participation in governance if people did not believe in the constitution or the electoral process.
He said some of the bizarre things “being witnessed today in our democracy have tended exclude citizens from participation in governance.”
Kukah explained, “We went for democracy because we think it is the best form of government, but as it is now, if you want to declare interest to participate in the process or to pick your expression of interest form, despite the quality of your certificate, you went to Harvard, you went to Oxford and you went to that other institution.
“This is not about your ability, no, it is not acceptable, if you don’t have N100 million or N50 million to buy a nomination form or you don’t have the kind of friends that can buy it for you.
“You see, this thing has been reduced to some kind of joke and Nigerians are sitting and watching in disbelieve and keeping quiet, that somebody will just wake up one day to pick a nomination form for N100 million, that person may not have been able to drill a borehole for his village or give scholarship to his people.
“We have to pay the price because we are complicit. What this means is that someone fixed the price saying that poor people don’t have to apply, that only rich people can participate in the process. We should not pretend that we are running a democracy, we are rather pushing for plutocracy – government of the rich for the rich people.”
Kukah said every country deserved the quality of leadership it had constructed, adding that in Nigeria’s case, bad leadership has given birth to the monster of insecurity now haunting everyone.
According to Kukah, constitution is a major factor that helps in uniting citizens and promoting good governance in any country.
The fiery cleric regretted that Nigeria’s constitution had remained an issue of contention and debate for many years. He also said the issue of citizenship in the country was still in suspended animation, adding that the simplest thing that a citizen should enjoy from the state had remained elusive.
Kukah said there was need to find ways to manage ethnic and religious diversity if Nigeria was to attain true nationhood.
Earlier, the celebrant said Kukah had been a pillar of support for civil society groups for many decades.
Nwankwo recalled a memorable event in his life, when he got married to his wife in 1996 with Bishop Kukah officiating. He narrated how he had to sneak out from one of the foreign embassies to attend the wedding during the military rule.