The consultation between former President Goodluck Jonathan and some leaders of the All Progressives Congress for Jonathan to emerge as the presidential candidate has been rejected by support groups working for some presidential aspirants of the party.
Groups loyal to presidential aspirants of the party, including the APC National leader and former Lagos State Governor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo; in separate interviews with The PUNCH, dismissed the consensus plot for the ex-President.
It was also gathered that those who were behind the plot and some members of the National Working Committee of the party feared that it might not sail through.
It was learnt that although the plan had been announced, opposition to it was already swelling among members.
Besides Tinubu, Osinbajo, other members of the party in the presidential race include the Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello; the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi and the Ebonyi State Governor, Dave Umahi.
Jonathan had informed some APC leaders that he would only join the presidential race if he was directly endorsed by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.).
The information was revealed to our correspondent shortly after Jonathan’s posters flooded the national secretariat of the APC and some youth groups stormed Jonathan’s office in the Maitama area of Abuja, calling on him to join the Presidential race.
In his response, the former President had told protesters that he could not say for sure if he would declare or not but only advised his supporters to “watch out.”
It was subsequently learnt from top sources in the APC that there was a plan by some leaders in the APC and some elements in the Presidency to accede to Jonathan’s request.
A member of the APC National Executive Committee, who confided in one of our correspondents, said all presidential aspirants were aware of the plan to bring Jonathan in as the consensus candidate.
According to him, members of the Presidency cabal who were working on the plan were confused as they did not know if it would succeed.
He stated that they started working on the plan more than a year ago but when they ran into some challenges, they tried to adopt the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele.
The NEC member added that when they realised that Emefiele’s option might not work, they went back to the Jonathan arrangement.
The party chieftain stated, “I can tell you they are facing a tough task as far as Jonathan is concerned. Although from his body language, one can see that Jonathan is interested. However, his backers in the APC are confused about how to launder the public image of Jonathan whom they painted incompetent and clueless in 2015.
“Another tough task the party may face is how it will convince other aspirants like Tinubu, Osinbajo, Amaechi, Umahi and Bello to step down. Many members are not happy with the plot and are ready to shoot it down.”
When contacted for the party’s reaction, the APC National Publicity Secretary, Felix Morka, neither replied to a text message sent to his mobile phone nor responded to calls made by one of our correspondents.
It was also learnt that the presidential aspirants were waiting for Jonathan’s backers to unveil their plan, which they vowed to resist.