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2023 PRESIDENCY: Jonathan’s Picture With APC Chairman, Adamu, Sparks Membership Controversy

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2023 PRESIDENCY: Jonathan’s Picture With APC Chairman, Adamu, Sparks Membership Controversy
2023 PRESIDENCY: Jonathan’s Picture With APC Chairman, Adamu, Sparks Membership Controversy

There was confusion yesterday as a picture of former President Goodluck Jonathan with the national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Abdullahi Adamu, surfaced last night amid the purchase of presidential nomination forms for him by a Fulani group.

This further created controversy in the country’s political space as Jonathan disowned the northern group that procured presidential nomination and expression of interest forms for him.

The former Nigerian leader who is rumoured to have commenced talks with prominent leaders across the country in the bid to return to the presidency in 2023, denied being a member of the APC at the moment.

In the past few months, anxiety had enveloped the APC over fresh campaigns to return Jonathan to power in the 2023 general election.

This was heightened when Jonathan penultimate Friday asked some youths urging him to contest the 2023 presidency to “watch out soon” for his next move.

But the former president put a lie to all the insinuations when he issued a statement last night rejecting the forms from the Northern group made up of Fulanis and Almajiris.

The group known as the Association of Fulani-Almajiri yesterday paid N100 million to obtain the nomination forms, saying they raised the money from selling their cows to ensure Jonathan returns to Aso Rock in 2023.

In paying for the forms for Jonathan, the APC Collection Account domiciled with Heritage Bank was credited with N100million.

In a letter dated May 9, 2022 written by Heritage Bank, notifying APC of the receipt of the amount, the APC collection account number is stated as 5600007616.

The letter obtained by our correspondent stated: “We write to confirm that your subject account has been credited with the sum of N30,000,000.00 (Thirty Million Naira Only) being Expression of Interest form for Goodluck Ebele Jonathan for Presidency.

“Please take this as a credit advice of the transaction in this regard.”

Another letter written by the bank also alerted the governing party of receipt of N70m for the nomination form for the former president.

Speaking with journalists after purchasing the forms at the Abuja International Conference Centre, leader of the group, Ibrahim Abdullahi, described Jonathan as the best Nigerian president who was the first leader since the country’s independence to be magnanimous to them.

Abdullahi said, “Remember the almajari community; he brought a comprehensive policy of reformation and integration of the almajari into the mainstream educational system in Nigeria. It was the dream and the vision of President Goodluck Jonathan that if that programme had continued it would one day produce doctors, engineers from the almajiri system of education.

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“Unfortunately, that programme was kept aside as soon as he left. Another part of the community (the vulnerable community) that Goodluck Jonathan wanted to really give a sense of belonging to was the Fulani community – the nomadic pastoralists.”

Noting that Jonathan had earmarked N60 billion in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) which was to be used to develop livestock in Nigeria, the group said if government had continued with the programme, Nigeria’s presence would have been felt in Denmark, Sweden, Holland and the entire Africa in terms of livestock and beef.

“Looking at this, situation and of course the problems Nigeria today is facing, we believe that only a leader with that kind of patriotism, a leader with that kind of fairness who is ready to give every Nigerian sense of belonging can be able to rule this country and that leader is Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.

“As you may have heard, a lot of interest groups have been coming out to urge him to contest but we felt that because of the deadline that was given, whether he agrees or not we need to purchase this form. Goodluck Jonathan is for all Nigeria. As a Nigerian we believe we have the interest of this country at heart. He will accept us.

“You can see that we are almost late to buy these forms; we have been trying with the Almajiri and the Fulani selling our cows. We were able to raise this money just yesterday and we decided to come and purchase these forms. Let Nigerians support this project. If you are talking about Goodluck Jonathan, I don’t think there is any aspirant so far that we have seen that can be compared in any way with Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.

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“Unless if Nigerians are not serious, unless we don’t want to integrate and unite in this country, unless you want to continue playing the politics of religion, tribalism. You see, I am a Fulani man, coming from the far North but I tell you, there is no Nigerian today that I can cast my vote for, campaign and vote except Jonathan. For me, Jonathan is the best among all the aspirants, irrespective of where he comes from, religion.

But disowning the Fulani and Amajiri group, Jonathan in a statement issued by his office denied knowledge of the “personalities behind the purported purchase of the form” for him, even as he said he is not a member of the APC.

The statement titled, “Disclaimer: Dr Goodluck Jonathan Disapprove the purchase of APC Presidential Nomination form in His name”, which was made available to LEADERSHIP last night, read: “The Attention of the Office of former President Goodluck Jonathan, has been drawn to the purported purchase of the Presidential Nomination and Expression of Interest form, of the All Progressives Congress APC, in his name, by a group named “Fulani Group “

“We wish to inform the general public, particularly Nigerians, that Dr. Goodluck Jonathan has no knowledge whatsoever of the personalities behind the purported purchase of the form, in his name, not having any relationship with the association.

“It should be noted, that as at the moment, Dr Goodluck Jonathan is not a member of the APC and therefore could not have accepted such a gesture, from those behind the move.

“While we appreciate the overwhelming request by a cross-section of Nigerians, for Dr Jonathan to make himself available for the 2023 Presidential election, we wish to state, that he has not in any way, committed himself to this request, even though some of them, considered patriotic. The general public is hereby urged to disregard the action of the group, as it has no consent nor approval from Dr Goodluck Jonathan.”

Lawan, Ayade, Sylva Pick Forms, Bakare Declares

Meanwhile, Senate President Ahmed Lawan; Cross River State governor, Ben Ayade, and minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, yesterday obtained the presidential nomination and expression of interest forms of the All Progressives Congress (APC) ahead of the party’s presidential primary election billed for May 30, 2022.

The N100 million forms were picked up on their behalf by supporters made up of senators, businessmen and politicians from the party’s organising secretary at the International Conference Centre (ICC) in Abuja.

This confirms speculations that had been making the rounds that Lawan, Ayade and Sylva were consulting to join the 2023 presidential race.

Political associates of the Senate president purchased nomination and expression of interest forms for him, saying Nigeria needs a president and not one given to ethnic proclivities.

Noting that they have the backing of Lawan to buy the forms on his behalf, leader of the group, Chief Sam Nkire, said, “We are not here on our own; we have his backing. Even though friends and brothers contributed to purchase this form for him, he has given us the go ahead”.

They also took a swipe at the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), saying the opposition party was driving the APC into abandoning zoning of its presidential ticket.

According to him, if the PDP cedes its presidential ticket to the North, it would amount to political suicide for the APC to act in the contrary.

Nkire said, “We are here you can see beside and behind me senators and senior members, businessmen and politicians who are members of the All Progressives Congress and some other Nigerians who want a new president.

“We want the current Senate President to be the president of Nigeria for many reasons. National stability one, and a president that we are bringing for the Nigerian people is a Nigerian president, not an Igbo president, not a Fulani president, not a Yoruba president, but a Nigerian president who we have watched and see that there would be no other candidate that will be so level-headed and someone who has the feeling of the poor Nigerians”.

On zoning, he said, “Let me tell you, every politician is in politics to win. It is PDP that is driving us to do this. We have said so, but we don’t want PDP to take the government from us. If you give the position to a southerner and PDP gives to a northerner, APC will go into the wilderness and we are not ready to go into the wilderness”.

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On his part, Cross River State governor, Prof Ben Ayade, yesterday in Abuja, received the APC presidential nomination and expression of interest forms purchased for him by various groups, including Arewa youths.

A visibly overwhelmed Ayade thanked the groups for the gesture, just as he promised to fix the country, starting with security and power.

He said he understood the challenges of the country and was bringing to the table a commitment to effect change.

“I have a commitment to effect change, I have the commitment to accelerate progress. I have a clear picture of the prosperity I want to bring to this country. It is crystal clear. I am committed to taking advantage of the huge natural resources and huge human resources and create an embrace to bring prosperity to this country,” he stated.

While presenting the forms to Ayade, a former governorship aspirant, Prof Eyo Etim Nyong, applauded the governor for what he described as his extra capacity.

Nyong said, “Ayade is a man of extra capacity, a man who has what it takes to lead this country. You are not making a mistake; you are charting the way forward for our great country.

Also, minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, yesterday received the N100 million nominations and expression of interest forms purchased for him by a group of supporters.

A  crowd of supporters, comprising women and youth groups led by a northern solidarity group, stormed the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Towers in Abuja to ask the minister to run for president.

The group known as Good People Of Nigeria, while presenting the forms to Sylva at the gate of the NNPC Towers, said their act is borne of the belief that he is the right person to take over from President Buhari.

Accepting the forms, Sylva said that he would consult leaders of the oil rich Niger Delta region, including Chief Edwin Clark and other political allies before deciding if he would run for the office of the president under the umbrella of the APC.

Addressing a large crowd of supporters, Sylva said their kindness was shocking to him.

He said, “I have tried since I was appointed to this office to do my best in the service of our country and today you by yourself go through the trouble of obtaining the nomination and expression of interest forms for me is very humbling and very shocking.”

Leader of the support groups, Alhaji Mohammed Abu Abaji, said the group had been closely monitoring the work of the minister in controlling the petroleum resources of Nigeria and believes that he is the right person to take over from President Muhammadu Buhari.

He said, “That is why we bought these forms and called on him to come and contest in the APC primaries; I think it is one of the small things we can do for him.”

Meanwhile, senior pastor of the Citadel Global Community Church, Pastor Tunde Bakare, yesterday formally declared his intention to contest the 2023 presidential election.

Speaking at the Yar’Adua Centre yesterday, Bakare said when elected president, his government would be based on carefully designed four areas of priority, noting that as president, his administration would deliver on four mandates: namely Peace, Progress, Prosperity and Possibilities.

He said, “Today, I am offering myself to close the distance between the Nigerian reality and every Nigerian dream; to unlock the power of public policy to accelerate transformation; to infuse our young people with a surge of hope for what is possible; to roll my sleeves up and work to solve Nigeria’s most intractable problems; to build a cutting-edge nation at the forefront of innovation; to create a new dynamic of belonging in which everyone has a seat and a say; I am committed to the realisation of A New Nigeria for Every Nigerian in my lifetime.

Kalu Withdraws, Backs Lawan

Meanwhile, chief whip of the Senate, Orji Uzor Kalu, yesterday declared that he has withdrawn from the 2023 presidential contest.

Accordingly, he announced that he had thrown his weight behind the aspiration of Senate President Ahmed Lawan.

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In a statement personally signed, Kalu said, “I congratulate my friend, former roommate and boss, Senator Ahmad Lawan, as he picks form to run for president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria under our great party, All Progressives Congress (APC). I am most glad because he is from the North-east, the only zone alongside South-east that is yet to produce president of Nigeria.

“I have always maintained an unambiguous stand that for justice, equity and fairness in our country, the next president of Nigeria after President Muhammadu Buhari should come from the South-east or the North-east.

“I have also told Nigerians that I would  only run for president if the two major political parties (APC and PDP) zone their tickets to the South-east.

“That is why I was disappointed with our southern brothers who are talking about fairness and equity but have zero tolerance for the same fairness and equity in the South.

“In the absence of a South-easterner being president of Nigeria in 2023, I have my full support for a North-easterner. This is because it would be the closest to the equity, fairness and justice everyone is talking about. It further means that the justice is on its way to the South-east.”

“This is why I am formally announcing that I am running for the Office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2023 elections”.

Bakare noted that he understands the pains of Nigerians better, which is why he decided to contest the 2023 presidential poll.

He noted: “I stand here before you today mindful of the realities, but hopeful enough to offer myself as a bridge; a bridge connecting the dreams of our founding patriots to the highway of every Nigerian dream; the ones deferred and the ones you still wake up to each morning; a bridge between today’s Nigeria and the one you know is possible. I stand here today to acknowledge that the realisation of my dreams was facilitated by Nigeria.”

Reeling out his four priority areas, the cleric said, “The Peace Mandate will achieve our policy thrust on Nationhood, Leadership, Governance and National Security. Through the Peace Mandate, we will reconcile and reintegrate the Nigerian people into true nationhood; galvanise a broad-based and competent leadership that can unify Nigeria and harness our enormous potential; lead our nation on a pragmatic pathway to governance structure reforms; end the scourge of insecurity; and guarantee the safety and security of every Nigerian within Nigeria’s borders.

“Through the Progress Mandate, we will cater for Human Development Sectors including Education, Healthcare and Family and Social Development. Under the Progress Mandate, we will alleviate poverty in the short-term by offering safety nets to our most vulnerable while implementing long-term poverty eradication policies.

“We will also develop a healthy and highly skilled workforce that will drive our national growth and development objectives. Furthermore, under this mandate, we will protect the vulnerable and foster equity and social inclusiveness in access to opportunities.

“The Prosperity Mandate will cater to our policy thrust on Economic Management and Infrastructure Delivery. We will achieve the Prosperity Mandate by launching the Nigerian Geoeconomic Development Plan (N-GDP) on day one of my inauguration as president. The N-GDP is a new way of looking at our GDP; therefore, you would be right to refer to it as the New GDP. Guided by the N-GDP, we will rebuild Nigeria’s economy around six competitive geoeconomic zones, triple Nigeria’s GDP to $1.5 trillion by 2030, and industrialise Nigeria around the hub-and-spoke model of industrialisation.

“This will see the emergence of industrial cities in each geoeconomic zone made of several industrial clusters. The industrial clusters will in turn be linked to feeder hubs and enterprise zones in the respective regions. The N-GDP will guide our policies, institutions, and investments across various sectors including Solid Minerals, Agriculture, Manufacturing, and SMEs.

“The Possibilities Mandate will cater to our policy thrust in Science, Technology and Innovation; Foreign Policy; Sustainability; and Arts, Culture, Entertainment and Sports (ACETS). The objectives of the Possibilities Mandate include Nigeria’s leapfrogging as a leader in the fourth industrial revolution as well as our emergence as a global hub of creative and cultural industries.”

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