Top sources which spoke with SaharaReporters noted that the former President is being considered by the party because of his influence in the southern region, while El-Rufai is being used as vice for him to become president when the presidency is again zoned to the North.
One of the sources said, “There are plans already to pair El-Rufai with Jonathan for 2023. We believe both forces are strong and have goodwill in their regions and are good for the party.”
It was gathered that pressure has been mounted on Jonathan to join the APC ahead of the 2023 presidential election.
Recall that a team led by the Chairman Caretaker/Extraordinary National Convention Planning Committee, Governor Mai Mala Buni visited Jonathan.
Other members of the delegation include David Umahi, Ebonyi State governor, who recently defected from the PDP to the APC; Atiku Bagudu, Kebbi State governor, who is also the chairman of the Progressives Governors Forum; Abubakar Badaru, Jigawa State governor; Chief Ken Nnamani, a former Senate President; and Alhaji Kashim Ibrahim-Imam, ex-presidential liaison office to the National Assembly.
Buni, however, denied that the visit was a move to lure the former President, he said, “Those peddling such information, they are afraid.”
“Even if someone wants to base assumption on our recent visit to him during his birthday, we were there because of his capacity as a former President of Nigeria.”
“Again, even if there is nothing when we are talking of peaceful coexistence, we must give credit to former President Jonathan on the issue of peace; how he accepted defeat in 2015 and resigned to fate. That has qualified him to be a statesman, and he is now among our fathers.”
On whether the APC would accept Jonathan should he indicate interest, Buni had said, “Even in America where we got this democracy, I’ve not seen where people are being confined to a limit.”
Sources disclosed that they are surprised by the commitment of Jonathan to this administration despite the shade thrown at him by the party during the campaign in 2015.
It was gathered that the cabal in the party are amazed that Jonathan did not criticise Buhari openly despite the failure of the Buhari government.
SaharaReporters learnt from sources that the establishment of almajiri schools by Jonathan to reduce a large number of out-of-school children in the North also scored the former president good points in the eyes of the northern cabal in the APC, especially with most of it now rotting away even under a northerner as president.
“They see Jonathan as a safe option given the bias Buhari has also shown. The northern elites are afraid that when power returns to the South, the North may get a dose of how Buhari treated the South in terms of key appointments. The choice of El-Rufai is only natural. He has always been seen as a good northern candidate for the presidency,” a source said.
However, there are concerns about the position of the APC national leader, Bola Tinubu, who is reportedly eyeing the presidency.
Tinubu was considered Buhari’s running mate ahead of the 2015 presidential election before some voices in the party and elder statesmen discouraged the APC from going with a Muslim-Muslim ticket, hence the choice of Prof Yemi Osinbajo, who was singlehandedly picked by the former Lagos State governor.
Tinubu had supported Buhari to win presidential elections in 2015 and 2019, believing that Buhari would return the favour after the expiration of his tenure in office when power would be expected to shift to the South.
However, Jonathan has been considered a better option than Tinubu because of the latter’s “unpredictability”.
A source said, “Even among Yoruba people, Tinubu has enemies. Many people want to reduce his power and influence in the South-West; many do not like him in the North. They cannot predict Tinubu the way they can predict Jonathan. With the presidency, Tinubu will become very powerful and no one can predict what he will do with such powers.”
“That is why the strategy being employed by those in support of Tinubu is to first unite people, particularly in the South-West, behind him. They know the challenge before him and understand that it will be much harder to convince other regions to support him without his region solidly behind him.”
“As for Jonathan, he has been there before, so it is easy to know the kind of presidency he will produce. Jonathan cannot also spend more than four years in power since he has spent four years already, a fact that is also not lost on those scheming to have him run for the APC.”