Why we met him – Governors
It’s not political – Former president
Top shots of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) appear jittery over former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan’s meeting with some chieftains of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), including governors.
Twenty-four hours after the Ebonyi State governor, David Umahi, formally dumped the PDP for the APC, some governors who are members of the APC met with Jonathan.
The governors, led by Mai Mala Buni of Yobe State, the chairman of the APC caretaker committee, were at Jonathan’s residence in Abuja on Friday.
Others who were at the residence of the former president include David Umahi (Ebonyi), Atiku Bagudu (Kebbi) who is the chairman of the Progressives Governors’ Forum, and Abubakar Badaru (Jigawa).
Jonathan, who was the president of the country from 2010 to 2015, was defeated by incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari of the APC during the 2015 presidential election when he contested for a second term.
A source in the APC confided in one of our correspondents yesterday that the ruling party was wooing former Jonathan to jump ship to its fold in the build up to 2023.
From June to date, the APC caretaker committee has received into the party, a former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara; former National Chairman of the PDP, Senator Barnabas Gemade; Governor Umahi; Sagir Takai, among others.
One of the governors who attended Friday’s meeting with Jonathan, said they were working to promote political integration.
“We are working hard to promote peace, unity and national stability by ensuring political integration,” the governor who does not want to be named said.
The APC Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Yekini Nabena, confirmed to Daily Trust yesterday, that APC leaders were lobbying Jonathan, PDP governors and other top shots in the opposition, including other prominent Nigerians to join the party.
“Politics is all about number and you know we are not forcing people, it’s all about lobbying. So, we are doing this ahead of 2023.
“But we can’t force the former President; we can only lobby him. He has seen the good development President Buhari is doing. I think that is why even the Ebonyi State governor left the PDP.
“You can see what the centre is doing, it is different from what the PDP has done in 16 years. So, we do our things practically and not on paper.
“We are also talking to some PDP governors and every important person in this country. Those that have the interest of the nation at heart, we will continue to lobby them to join us in the APC,” he said.
On whether the APC would consider giving its presidential ticket to Jonathan to run in the event he pitched tent with the ruling party, Nabena said, “well, until we get to that bridge. The Bible says when you are born again, everything about you becomes new. So, once you come into the party, you are a full party member.”
However, the PDP Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Diran Odeyemi, told Daily Trust in a telephone chat yesterday that the PDP also has its strategy ahead of 2023.
“It is a hypothesis, it’s a calculation of the APC. We have our own calculation too. And it is our calculation that the best candidate that will emerge in the PDP will take Nigeria to the promised land. So, we are keeping our strategy to our chest.
“What the APC is doing is propaganda. If PDP is having a general problem that anyone can talk about, that is when you can talk of every other governor leaving the party. Governor Umahi’s defection was personal but there is no reason whatsoever for any governor in the PDP to join APC at this time.
“And we wonder which of the APC they are joining. Is it the APC of Bola Tinubu or the APC of Buhari? Because we know the APC is in crisis.
“Visiting Jonathan to rejoice with him as a former president is nothing new. Anybody can rejoice with him on his birthday. So, it doesn’t translate to the idea of him joining them.
“And they should stop making noise about visiting people because Umahi joined them now. They should not deceive Nigerians that more PDP governors will join them,” he said.
A foundation stalwart of the PDP from the North, Alhaji Aminu Yakudima, said, “The PDP top echelon should get worried because if they allow a gale of defections to happen, that will be disastrous for PDP.
“If Jonathan defects with more governors to the APC, the party may collapse. Whether we like it or not, people like Jonathan and Atiku, in the Nigerian politics, have a lot to contribute to the democratic process.
“Therefore, it is dangerous for the party to allow Jonathan to go. It will help the APC to form government again,” he said.
Visit not political – Jonathan
Jonathan has declined comment on insinuations that he is interested in running for 2023 presidential election on the platform of APC.
The ex-President’s spokesman, Mr Ikechukwu Eze, when contacted by the Daily Trust reporter on the public discuss about his boss’ presidential ambition, said they do not respond to rumour except if such insinuation had been published.
Eze said the birthday visit did not have any political colouration as both the PDP and APC governors visited the former president as father and statesman to celebrate with him.
He said: “PDP governors also visited him; it was not only APC governors. Governor Bala Muhammad was there, they visited him as a father and statesman to celebrate with him, it was not a political party affair.
“Anything you are hearing about 2023 is rumour and we don’t have time to be responding to rumours, the former President is a very busy person to be listening to rumours.”
Some of Jonathan’s allies in Bayelsa State declined to comment on the issue, saying the former Nigerian leader has not discussed such political intention with them and there was no need commenting on what they know is not even in Jonathan’s mind.
One of them who declined to be named said, “Jonathan cannot put us in the dark about such ambition. If it’s actually true, he would have told us, but I certainly believe that he is not interested in any election, even if he does, obviously not on the platform of APC, no.”