By Dirisu Yakubu
For more than a year now, speculations of former President Dr. Goodluck Jonathan’s possible defection to the All Progressives Congress, APC, have not waned, as pundits and newsmen alike continue to link the zoologist-turn politician with yet another crack at the Presidential Villa.
Jonathan became governor of Bayelsa state in 2005 following the fall of his former mentor, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha who was impeached for corruption-related offences. In 2007, he became Vice President on a joint ticket with late President Umaru Yar’Adua who again yielded the exalted seat to Jonathan following his death in 2010.
In 2011, Jonathan contested and won election into the Office of the President, Federal Republic of Nigeria but his re-election bid in 2015 suffered a setback as he lost to Muhammadu Buhari who flew the flag of the then hurriedly-assembled APC. In the few months after his victory and subsequent inauguration as President, Buhari often chided Jonathan and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, for what he believed was their poor management of the nation’s fortunes, particularly crude oil earnings over a period of 16 years.
However, President Buhari has been full of praises for his predecessor in recent times, often crediting him for saving the nation’s democracy following his decision to concede defeat in 2015. In the past few months, Jonathan has been a regular guest at Aso Rock, meeting his successor in close-door sessions. More often than not, State House Correspondents who waited for briefing at the end of such meetings were disappointed as smiling Jonathan would simply wave at them and disappear into thin air at the end of such meetings.
This coupled with Jonathan’s absence from every event organised by his party in the past few years has led to intense speculations of the possibility of him running for the plum office on the platform of APC in 2023.
But media adviser to former President Jonathan, Ikechukwu Eze has said his principal’s visit to President Buhari earlier in the week has nothing to do with politics, saying “I can confirm to you that the visit of His Excellency to the Presidential Villa was purely to provide an update on the political situation in Mali.
“As the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS mediator in Mali, Jonathan, went to the Villa to update the President on his mediation role ahead of the ECOWAS summit slated for Sunday, in Ghana.
“Jonathan just came back from Mali and he went to brief the President ahead of the summit of the Authority of Heads of State, which he also is attending,” he said.
According to him, the ECOWAS summit is held on Sunday, in Ghana and a key item for discussion is the development in Mali.
“As you know, there has been a delay in releasing the timetable for the conduct of Mali’s election. The country had a national conference which was just concluded and they made recommendations on the time elections could hold.
“So, ECOWAS will be meeting on Sunday and that is why Jonathan visited Buhari,” Eze explained.
It would be recalled that Jonathan had on Dec. 31, 2021, visited President Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, and quickly proceeded on a closed-door meeting with the President.
The PDP has continuously insisted that Jonathan would not jump ship to the APC, insisting that the man remain committed to the ideals of the party that shot him into the national and global limelight.