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Presidency: Don’t Run, Loyalists, Ex-Ministers Advise Jonathan

Ex-President Goodluck Jonathan is under pressure from his key advisers and some former members of his cabinet to ignore calls to join the 2023 presidential race.

He is unlikely to switch camps to the All Progressives Congress (APC) either, The Nation learnt authoritatively yesterday.

The APC, on its part, is unwilling to fulfill a major condition from Jonathan: his adoption as the party’s consensus candidate in the 2023 election.

Sources close to the ex-president said yesterday in Abuja that many of his leading advisers and ex-ministers told him last Wednesday to forget about ditching PDP for APC.

Their stance, according to sources, stemmed from alleged feedback from the camp of President Muhammadu Buhari and the APC leadership that they were “not forthcoming on automatic presidential ticket for Jonathan.”

The advisers got to know that Jonathan was advised to “go and try his luck” like other aspirants.

According to some of the advisers, it was also glaring that APC presidential aspirants were not prepared to support the ‘consensus option’ for the former President.

“We have looked at all the options Jonathan presented and we asked him to shelve his ambition and plans to move to APC,” said one of the sources.

Continuing, he said: “Up till Wednesday, he had not got a firm commitment either from Buhari or APC to be the consensus candidate.

“He is also not in a position to win the APC presidential primaries because he has no structure in place barely a month to the primaries.

“In fairness, we felt there was no possibility of wielding the state apparatchik in his favour to earn the APC presidential ticket.”

Another reliable source said: “Some members of the cabinet of the ex-President told him that it was in his interest to be an international statesman than to drag himself into the murky politics of the 2023 presidential contest.

“More importantly, we made him to realise that he could not get our backing if he shifted to the APC that maligned his administration, hounded, arrested and jailed some of those who served in his cabinet.

“In fact, we asked him what he would tell Nigerians for shifting his political base from PDP to APC. It just does not add up.”

Responding to a question, the source added: “Jonathan was in a tight corner because of a few elements pushing him to defect to APC. But at the end of the day, he would be the loser.

“He was going to lose much of his political goodwill to indiscretion, because many of his advisers and supporters would not follow him.

“The conditions attached to consensus candidacy were so cumbersome that most APC presidential aspirants would not step down for him, no matter the pressure from Buhari.

“They had started stoking the fire that Jonathan was not eligible to contest having been sworn in thrice as Acting President and President. This was just a smokescreen of what he should expect from APC.

“But the ball is in his court to decide what he wants for himself.”

From the APC itself came a hint that Jonathan and others were offered a waiver to defect to it.

A source in APC said: “So far, Jonathan has gained a mileage to enable him come to APC. Instead of one year mandatory membership to contest for any position, the new National Working Committee (NWC) has given potential defectors like Jonathan an open card. They can join and aspire to any elective level.

“I am aware that the party cannot adopt and pronounce him as a consensus candidate because APC has opted for indirect primary election.

“Jonathan is a heavyweight; he has what it takes to win a presidential primary election and he should be courageous enough to join the race. All I know is that with Senator Abdullahi Adamu in charge, the contest will be free and fair.”

The legal status of his candidacy for the presidential office has however made many APC leaders to be cautious of promoting the ex-President.

Only last Thursday, human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, said Jonathan was unqualified to contest next year’s presidential election on account of constitutional provisions barring him.

His words: “The former President is disqualified from contesting the said election by Section 137 (3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended, which provides as follows: ‘A person who was sworn in to complete the term for which another person was elected as President shall not be elected to such office for more than a single term.

“Some people have said that the amendment is not retrospective and, therefore, cannot apply to Dr. Jonathan. Assuming without conceding that the amendment is not retrospective, it is submitted that under the current Constitution a President or Governor cannot spend more than 2 terms of 8 years. In other words, the Constitution will not allow anyone to be in office for more than a cumulative period of 8 years.

“It is not in dispute that Dr. Jonathan became the President of Nigeria in 2010 following the sudden death of President Umaru Yar’adua. He later contested and won the 2011 presidential election. Having spent 5 years in office as President, Dr. Jonathan is disqualified from contesting the 2023 presidential election.

“The reason is that if he wins the election, he will spend an additional term of 4 years. It means that he would spend a cumulative period of 9 years as President of Nigeria in utter breach of Section 137 of the Constitution which provides for a maximum two terms of 8 years.”

Responding last week to renewed agitation by some of his supporters for him to contest, Jonathan had said: “Yes, you are calling me to come and declare for the 2023 presidency, yes I can tell you that the political process is ongoing; just watch out.

“But the key role you must play is to pray that Nigeria gets a president that will carry the young people along and work very hard to see that some of the country’s problems raised are dealt with.”

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