LEADERSHIP Weekend gathered yesterday that Jonathan may have yielded to pressure from some big wigs of the governing party, close allies of the presidency to join the APC and join the race to clinch the party’s presidential ticket.
Groups and individuals have also been mounting pressure on the former president to contest the 2023 presidential poll.
Supporters of the former Nigerian leader, made up of men, women and youths, yesterday morning thronged his Abuja office, insisting that he must declare his intention to run for the 2023 presidency.
Jonathan who was holding a meeting with his committee of friends who visited him at his Foundation office at Taraba Crescent, Maitama, at the time the supporters stormed the place in protest did not categorically tell them that he would declare for the presidency.
Instead, he covertly asked the supporters to watch out, saying the political process was still in progress.
“I cannot declare because some processes are still ongoing. Yes, you are calling on me to come and declare for the next election. I cannot tell you I’m declaring. The political process is ongoing; just watch out. The key role you must play is that Nigeria must get somebody that will carry young people along,” Jonathan stated while addressing the supporters in front of the gate to his office.
But reliable sources close to the former president told our correspondent yesterday evening that arrangement has been concluded for the former president to defect to the APC and join other aspirants jostling for the presidential ticket ahead of the party’s presidential primary billed to hold on May 30 and 31, 2022.
Confirming the development, one of the sources who did not want his name in print, said, “It is not all about former President Jonathan. The forces that be in APC are the ones asking him to run for the presidency under the party’s platform. I think he is just waiting for the process to be finalised before declaring officially.
“We all know that the former president cannot take such a decision at this dying moment to throw his has in the ring of a party he would be dealing with as a new entrant and expect to get the ticket of the highest office in the country.”
It was also learnt that the APC is planning to grant the former president waiver as a new entrant to participate in the party’s presidential primary.
The NWC of the APC, in exercising the power of NEC in accordance with the party’s constitution may grant and approve waiver as soon as it is requested by the ward executive for the former president to participate in all activities of the APC such as voting and be voted for in any of the intra party elections ahead of the 2023 polls”, a party source told LEADERSHIP Weekend last night.
Meanwhile, the supporters holding placards with inscriptions such as “run Jonathan run”, “Jonathan you are a good man”, “Jonathan, you’re the only voice of the masses we know”, and “Jonathan you must run”, “run Goodluck run”, “declare now, Goodluck”, “you must run”, “you are wasting our time, declare now”, among others contended that the former president remains their only hope for a better future.
The Coalition of Northern Youths, other youth and women groups from across the federation were part of the visit.
They took over the entire Taraba Street and other adjoining streets, up to the Farmer’s Market in Maitama, chanting songs in praise of Jonathan.
After about 2 hours, the former president who came out of his office to address them said he was still in the process of consulting and would soon make his decision to either contest or not public.
Jonathan urged his supporters to continue to pray for peace and unity of the country and that God should provide the right candidate to lead the country.
He noted that the visit, especially by the youths, was an indication that they were really interested in the country’s political affairs, just as he implored them to be key players in the country’s politics to enthrone good governance.
Jonathan said, “As youths, we must get involved in the country’s political process and luckily the law of `Not too Young to Run’ bill has made it clear that youths can contest almost every position in government. We will continue to encourage youths to get involved in the country’s political process.
“And as long as many youths get involved in the political process, we will be able to get the government we want”.
He noted that even though some of the country’s present challenges date back to past administration, they can be confronted frontally from a united front.
“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. I believe that collectively, we can work together,’’ he said.
Earlier, leader of the Youth Compatriots of Nigeria, Mayor Samuel, told journalists that they were ready to support Jonathan to ensure that he returns to Aso Rock as the country’s next president in 2023.
Condemning the growing insecurity in the country and the dwindling economy, Samuel said there is the need to address the situation.
He stated that the Nigeria Peoples Party was ready to give Jonathan its presidential ticket to contest the 2023 presidential election, adding that though the party is not registered yet, it belongs to the downtrodden.
Noting that any party that gives its presidential ticket to Jonathan would get the support of all Nigerians, he said, “The secret to good governance is what Nigeria requires at the moment, Jonathan has been tested and proven and we are ready to follow him.”
Also, one of the youth leaders, Jonathan Akumobi, said they were in Maitama to compel Jonathan to run because they believe in his capabilities, considering his past experience.
Akumobi said that a lot of challenges being experienced in all sectors require an experienced hand like Jonathan to tackle.
“We are tired of the killings, of the insecurity, our schools are closed because of strike, the national grid has been collapsing; everything in Nigeria is challenged.
“The prices of food items have gone up, during Jonathan’s administration, we were buying a bag of rice for N7,000, today it is N35,000; we need Jonathan back to help return to the good old days because we are tired of the excuses,’’ he stated.