Presidency 2023 Update: APC governors re-open negotiation with Jonathan, deepen plot against Tinubu

February 19, 2021
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There are emerging indications that party leaders from the north in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), including governors, are being compelled to re-open negotiations with former President Goodluck Jonathan by pressures from the southwest for zoning of the president to the south in 2023. Party sources revealed that the northern bloc in the APC is in search of an alternative presidential candidate to the party’s national leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, for political reasons.

The issue of zoning and power rotation has been contentious in the ruling party between leaders of two major legacy parties in the APC alliance – the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) led by President Muhammadu Buhari, and the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) led by Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. The CPC appears to be working in collaboration with the remnants of the nPDP and the ANPP against the ACN in the prevailing power tussle in the APC.

There was a revelation alleging that President Muhammadu Buhari had an agreement to hand over to Tinubu or cede power to the southwest after his second tenure in 2023. Some APC leaders had denied that such agreement was made in the formation of APC. The former Zamfara State governor, Sani Yerima, an integral ANPP annex of CPC, had said that there was no such agreement, declaring his presidential aspiration. The Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, had reminded APC leaders of the agreement to zone the president to the southwest after Buhari, warning the party leadership to uphold the agreement upon which Buhari got the support of the southwest in 2015 and 2019.

National Daily gathered from sources in the ruling APC that zoning has remained a contentious issue in the party in the preparations for the 2023 elections. Some APC leaders from the north were said to insist on retaining the president in the north in 2023. However, the emerging pressures from the said agreement between Buhari and Tinubu were said to make some other APC leaders from the north have a second thought. They were generally said not to be comfortable with Tinubu being Nigerian president. Some were said to have considered Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State as an alternative to Tinubu from the southwest. The pressures for power rotation are becoming irresistible and most APC leaders were said to support zoning the president to the south but throwing it open to the entire south than narrowing it to the southwest.

Apparently, most northern APC leaders, essentially, APC governors from the northwest, were said to be jostling for former President Goodluck Jonathan who they said can be trusted with power. Their additional consideration was said to be the expectation that Jonathan would serve one tenure and the north will have it back again. The governors would be leading delegates to the APC national convention to nominate the party’s presidential candidate and are promising to do their homework properly for the emergence of the anointed candidate at the convention.

Our sources further disclosed that the northern leaders also considered former President Jonathan to have done well in the north during his first tenure and has been friendly with President Muhammadu Buhari since he lost the presidential election in 2015 to Buhari. In addition, they have the belief that former President Jonathan has the popularity to win the presidential election. Jonathan was said to be preferred over the former President of the Senate, Ken Nnamani, who party sources said was also considered by the northern. The southeast was said to have minimal chances of producing a president in 2023 because of the activities of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and the South East Security Network. The south-south is the only zone that is relatively peaceful at the moment.

The northern APC leaders were said to have continued their consultation on the eligibility of the former president to contest the 2023 presidential election. They had earlier got legal advice that suggested Jonathan had been sworn into office two times and cannot take a third oath of office as president. Thus, they were advised to drop the Jonathan project a fortnight ago.

The northern APC leaders, including governors, sustained the consultation; deriving fresh legal advice that suggests Jonathan can contest for a second term as Nigerian president. The legal team was said to have explained to the party leaders that the former president completed the first tenure of late President Umar Musa Yar’Adua on his death as prescribed by the constitution, and thereafter, went for his first term. The legal team was said to have explained that the constitution provides for two tenures through contested elections, after which no more; pointing out that Jonathan had done only one tenure in 2011 and is entitled to another tenure. The team, according to our sources, insisted that the constitution is superior to any other law of the country, including enactments of the Nigerian National Assembly.

The advice of the legal counsel encouraged the northern APC leaders to re-open overtures and negotiations to former President Jonathan, our sources said. They were said to consider Jonathan a more reliable and trustworthy candidate.

The party sources also revealed that conservative forces in the APC, dominated by party leaders from the northwest are behind the Jonathan project, in the decision to zone the 2023 president to the south.

The sources said that it was APC’s renewed negotiation with the former president that created panic in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), compelling the recent move by the PDP reconciliation committee led by the former President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, visit to former President Jonathan. As APC leaders deepen negotiation, some PDP members were said to be on standby to defect to APC as soon as the deal is sealed, while the former president may be drafted to the ruling APC. The negotiation with Jonathan was said to have the approval of the president.

Meanwhile, the southwest stakeholders in APC were said to have regrouped, giving up individual ambitions and joining forces to support Tinubu for APC 2023 presidential ticket.

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