After the fallout of the national convention of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) last Saturday/Sunday at Eagles Square in Abuja, groups and individuals have stepped up their game by mounting pressure on former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan to throw his hat into the ring and contest the presidential election in 2023.
At the venue of the APC’s national convention, there were group discussions about the future of the country’s democracy regarding next year’s presidential election. Of course, the major issue that dominated sideline conversation is the question of who will the party produce as its presidential candidate.
So far, the answer to this question seems like a mirage in view of the line up of persons who have publicly declared their interest to run for the office of the president.
Those who want to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari next year on the platform of the APC include the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo; National Leader of the ruling party, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu; Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi state and Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi state. Others who are also reportedly nurturing presidential ambition to take over from Buhari are Governor Kayode Fayemi; Rotimi Amaechi, Minister of Transport, among others.
But the body language of President Buhari has been saying something completely different that the aspirants and some APC hawks were totally oblivious of until the last week of the National Convention of the party. Members of the ruling party at the highest level were shocked at the string that the president pulled.
Knowing fully well that any block within the party that produced the National Chairman of the party would eventually influence whoever will emerge as the presidential candidate, the cabal devised a killer strategy by ensuring that President Buhari invited the party leaders, APC governors, National Assembly Caucus and other relevant stakeholders and mounted pressure on them to accept his proposal of Concensus Option.
Governor Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi state explained the outcome of the meeting on concensus candidacy proposal of the president while he was fielding question from the State House correspondents.
According to him, “President Buhari is a believer in consensus as one of the options of producing leaders and he urged us to explore consensus while recognising that many people who have indicated interest are equally competent but only one person will occupy the office at the end of the day.
“Consensus is part of our constitution and he urged us to work towards consensus… We are in total support of Mr President. We are appreciative of his leadership. We commend him for his leadership.
“We are appreciative of the sacrifice of the National Caretaker and Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee. And we thank them for the successes recorded under them. Our party, like I said, is greater and stronger with more members by the day,” he said.
Expectedly, no one could turn down the president’s offer. So when Senator Abdullahi Adamu eventually emerged as the Concensus candidate and National Chairman, it was a fait accompli. Everyone fell into line.
Bagudu went memory line to justify this link of argument when he said that, “We have produced a number of national chairmen by consensus; Bisi Akande emerge as the pioneer chairman of the APC through consensus, John Oyegun emerged by consensus, Adams Oshiomhole emerged by consensus, so the president reminded us of that.”
But the untold ultimate strategy that was not revealed by the president and it is still kept in his chest is the fact that the cabal has perfected plan to also, like the Concensus Convention that made other National Chairmanship aspirants withdrew from the race, former President Jonathan is going to be the next Concensus preidential candidate of the party.
It is imperative to note that the president is determined to hand over power to a worthy, dependable and patriotic Nigerian within the ruling party who he believes Nigerians want and he has the requisite credentials to pull this country together from the current brink of explosive agitations along ethnic and religious lines.
The president is fully aware that he cannot leave the country with myriads of problems orchestrated by protracted national security issues. He is also well aware of the fact there are many desperate individuals or political elements in the APC who are ready to cross borders of decency, law, patriotism and statesmanship to grab power.
Beside the APC, the president is also not unaware of politicians in the opposition who are trying to move heaven and earth to succeed him. But he is not disposed either.
Knowing fully well that he cannot depend on rigging for APC to produce the next president, he has to reposition the party, ensure that only candidates that he can market to Nigerians emerge as the ruling party’s flag bearers.
In all of these, all hands are pointing at one man, former President Jonathan. He is arguably possesses the most enviable political credentials in the current democracy dispensation. He has proven over and again that he can be trusted.
He is a leader that has demonstrated beyond any doubt that he promotes the interest of Nigeria, its unity, peace and progress above his personal whims and interest.
He has showed that being in power or out of power does not affect his commitment and dedication to pursuing national interest of the country. He has made enormous personal and political sacrifices for Nigeria’s democracy.
His post presidential antecedents in Nigeria, Africa and beyond have boosted Nigeria’s international image as responsible and biggest democracy in Africa.
Also very importantly, Jonathan has become the light of optimism for the interest of minority in a heterogeneous democracy and society like ours in terms of ethnicity and religion. This and more are the core reasons why the cabal want Jonathan. He is a man of peace.
He willingly, against the highest odds possible, called and congratulated Buhari as the winner of his second term campaign while counting of votes was still going on. Indeed, Jonathan is a man of history.
But the only challenge now is the question everybody has been asking: Will former President Goodluck Jonathan accept to contest the 2023 presidential election as the ruling party’s Concensus candidate?
Dr Abdullahi writes from Sabin Gari, Kano