Two influential governors from the northern part of the country are behind the presidential return bid of former President Goodluck Jonathan, Daily Trust has reported.
Multiple sources, who are in the know, said the two governors, close to President Muhammadu Buhari, have secured the buy-in of a section of the presidency to actualise their agenda of drafting the former president into the presidential race.
The sources mentioned the names of the governors but were withheld by this paper because our reporters were unable to get their reactions as they are out of the country.
While one of the governors is from the North West, the other is from the North East geopolitical zone.
The sources said the duo began the moves last year but that they jettisoned it to promote the candidature of the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele.
However, when the Emefiele’s project was not flying, the governors returned to the Jonathan bid.
The two governors have been playing key roles in the affairs of the APC in the last few years.
The former president had since keyed into the move as evident in his body language.
He had last week told some of his supporters who were insisting he should declare to “be on the watch”, a disposition political pundits described as acceptance.
It was learnt that the Bayelsa-born former president is now waiting for the appropriate time to join the ruling party and declare for the race.
President Buhari had defeated Jonathan in the 2015 general election, ending the 16 years of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the country.
In the last seven years, the former president has not been attending activities of his party. This is just as his romance with President Buhari and top shots of the ruling party takes the centre stage, a development that has pitched him against opposition leaders in the country.
The move to return Jonathan
One of our sources, a former governor, said the two governors have reached out and sold the Jonathan project to the presidency.
“It is (withheld) that they are behind it and they are promoting it to checkmate Asiwaju Tinubu when they discover that the vice president does not possess the structures to put up a strong challenge,” he said.
Asked why the governors who are APC members are drafting the former president, he said, “They are doing it to advance their ambition. They want someone that would only be in power for a term. They also want him to pick one of them as running mate”.
An ally of the president, while corroborating the former governor’s statement, said the two governors brought the Jonathan project to advance their ‘’selfish interest.’’
But a source close to the former president claimed that Jonathan is being promoted by his successor.
“His number one backer is the president. Do you think he would start if he did not get the backing of Baba? He did not go and say I wanted to (vie for the presidency). He was asked to do so because they are more comfortable with him succeeding Buhari,” he said.
A former Chairman of the APC Elders Forum in Bayelsa State, Diekivie Ikiogha, said all is almost set for Jonathan’s exit from the PDP.
“His declaration would be based on an invitation by APC to come over and he is considering it. A lot of things have been done; the discussions are ongoing, so, he will be invited.
“We are persuading him and it is still going on, but I believe that he can yield to it. What I am telling you is that, when the platform is clear, he will contest. If it is clear, he will contest,” he said.
Also, a public affairs analyst, Mr David West, said though Jonathan had a few years ago announced that he was no longer interested in active politics, he has the constitutional right to contest for any office in the land.
He, however, stated that he doubts if Jonathan will perform better than he did during his first tenure. He said: “For me, it is his constitutional right to belong to any political party if he wants and if he wishes to contest for any political office in the country.
“I know if Jonathan is allowed to rule Nigeria again, he will not do more than four years tenure, because anything short of that will be a crisis.”