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Jonathan Set To Declare For 2023 Presidency Under APC

All seems to be set for former President Goodluck Jonathan to officially declare his intention to contest the 2023 presidency under the plat...

All seems to be set for former President Goodluck Jonathan to officially declare his intention to contest the 2023 presidency under the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

LEADERSHIP Weekend gathered yesterday that Jonathan may have yielded to pressure from some big wigs of the governing party, close allies of the presidency to join the APC and join the race to clinch the party’s presidential ticket.

Groups and individuals have also been mounting pressure on the former president to contest the 2023 presidential poll.

Supporters of the former Nigerian leader, made up of men, women and youths, yesterday morning thronged his Abuja office, insisting that he must declare his intention to run for the 2023 presidency.

Jonathan who was holding a meeting with his committee of friends who visited him at his Foundation office at Taraba Crescent, Maitama, at the time the supporters stormed the place in protest did not categorically tell them that he would declare for the presidency.

Instead, he covertly asked the supporters to watch out, saying the political process was still in progress.

“I cannot declare because some processes are still ongoing. Yes, you are calling on me to come and declare for the next election. I cannot tell you I’m declaring. The political process is ongoing; just watch out. The key role you must play is that Nigeria must get somebody that will carry young people along,” Jonathan stated while addressing the supporters in front of the gate to his office.

But reliable sources close to the former president told our correspondent yesterday evening that arrangement has been concluded for the former president to defect to the APC and join other aspirants jostling for the presidential ticket ahead of the party’s presidential primary billed to hold on May 30 and 31, 2022.

Confirming the development, one of the sources who did not want his name in print, said, “It is not all about former President Jonathan. The forces that be in APC are the ones asking him to run for the presidency under the party’s platform. I think he is just waiting for the process to be finalised before declaring officially.

“We all know that the former president cannot take such a decision at this dying moment to throw his has in the ring of a party he would be dealing with as a new entrant and expect to get the ticket of the highest office in the country.”

It was also learnt that the APC is planning to grant the former president waiver as a new entrant to participate in the party’s presidential primary.

The NWC of the APC, in exercising the power of NEC in accordance with the party’s constitution may grant and approve waiver as soon as it is requested by the ward executive for the former president to participate in all activities of the APC such as voting and be voted for in any of the intra party elections ahead of the 2023 polls”, a party source told LEADERSHIP Weekend last night.

Meanwhile, the supporters holding placards with inscriptions such as “run Jonathan run”, “Jonathan you are a good man”, “Jonathan, you’re the only voice of the masses we know”, and “Jonathan you must run”, “run Goodluck run”, “declare now, Goodluck”, “you must run”, “you are wasting our time, declare now”, among others contended that the former president remains their only hope for a better future.

The Coalition of Northern Youths, other youth and women groups from across the federation were part of the visit.

They took over the entire Taraba Street and other adjoining streets, up to the Farmer’s Market in Maitama, chanting songs in praise of Jonathan.

After about 2 hours, the former president who came out of his office to address them said he was still in the process of consulting and would soon make his decision to either contest or not public.

Jonathan urged his supporters to continue to pray for peace and unity of the country and that God should provide the right candidate to lead the country.

He noted that the visit, especially by the youths, was an indication that they were really interested in the country’s political affairs, just as he implored them to be key players in the country’s politics to enthrone good governance.

Jonathan said, “As youths, we must get involved in the country’s political process and luckily the law of `Not too Young to Run’ bill has made it clear that youths can contest almost every position in government. We will continue to encourage youths to get involved in the country’s political process.

“And as long as many youths get involved in the political process, we will be able to get the government we want”.

He noted that even though some of the country’s present challenges date back to past administration, they can be confronted frontally from a united front.

“But the key role you must play is to pray that Nigeria gets a president that will carry the young people along and work very hard to see that some of the country’s problems raised are dealt with. I believe that collectively, we can work together,’’ he said.

Earlier, leader of the Youth Compatriots of Nigeria, Mayor Samuel, told journalists that they were ready to support Jonathan to ensure that he returns to Aso Rock as the country’s next president in 2023.

Condemning the growing insecurity in the country and the dwindling economy, Samuel said there is the need to address the situation.

He stated that the Nigeria Peoples Party was ready to give Jonathan its presidential ticket to contest the 2023 presidential election, adding that though the party is not registered yet, it belongs to the downtrodden.

Noting that any party that gives its presidential ticket to Jonathan would get the support of all Nigerians, he said, “The secret to good governance is what Nigeria requires at the moment, Jonathan has been tested and proven and we are ready to follow him.”

Also, one of the youth leaders, Jonathan Akumobi, said they were in Maitama to compel Jonathan to run because they believe in his capabilities, considering his past experience.

Akumobi said that a lot of challenges being experienced in all sectors require an experienced hand like Jonathan to tackle.

“We are tired of the killings, of the insecurity, our schools are closed because of strike, the national grid has been collapsing; everything in Nigeria is challenged.

“The prices of food items have gone up, during Jonathan’s administration, we were buying a bag of rice for N7,000, today it is N35,000; we need Jonathan back to help return to the good old days because we are tired of the excuses,’’ he stated.

Submit Your Membership Register 30 Days Before Primaries, INEC Tells Parties

Meanwhile, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has directed all registered political parties to submit copies of their membership register to the commission in compliance with the new Electoral Act 2022, before their primary elections.

The electoral body said the new Electoral Act made it mandatory for political parties to submit their registered members to the commission 30 days before their primaries.

In his address at the second regular quarterly meeting of Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) in Abuja yesterday, the INEC chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, said the directive is mandatory for political parties.

Yakubu said only one political party has complied, adding that it is a mandatory requirement of the law and all parties are required to comply.

He stressed that the Electoral Act, together with the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) and our Regulations and Guidelines for the Conduct of Elections, constitute the electoral legal framework for elections.

He said, “Let me also seize this opportunity to remind political parties that by the provision of Section 77 of the Electoral Act 2022; each party is required to maintain a membership register in hard and soft copy and to make such register available to the Commission not later than 30 days before the date fixed for primaries, congresses and conventions.

“Doing otherwise is like going into an election without the register of voters. There can be no credible primary or general election without a credible register of voters.”

The INEC chairman also advised the RECs to thoroughly study the new Electoral Act, saying a credible election is anchored on the law.

“As election managers, it is incumbent upon us to familiarise ourselves with the legal framework,” he said.

On the ongoing Continuous Voter Registration (CVR), particularly the creation of additional centres to devolve the exercise beyond INEC State and Local Government offices nationwide, Mr Yakubu said a total of 2,673 centres had been activated nationwide.

He disclosed that in the last week of the exercise, 405,587 eligible Nigerians had completed the registration at the various centres.

This, according to him, represents about 31 per cent increase on the average figure of 125,000 weekly registrations since the ever commenced in June 2021.

Mr Yakubu also said that while INEC expected a surge in new registrations as it approached its June 30 deadline, it was prepared for it.

He, however, said INEC was concerned about the safety of prospective registrants, INEC personnel, equipment and materials, including the printed Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) made available for collection by registered voters.

Mr Yakubu, who said recent incidents involving INEC staff and facilities were worrisome, recalled that following the unfortunate attack on INEC staff in Imo State last week, the Commission suspended the CVR in all the 54 additional centres in the State.

“The exercise is now restricted to our State and Local Government offices except Ihitte Uboma, Njaba and Osu where the exercise had been suspended for the time being.

“Similarly, based on the urgency of the situation in Anambra State, the CVR has been suspended in all the 42 additional centres and confined to our State and Local Government offices except Nnewi South and Ogbaru LGAs where the exercise had also been temporarily suspended.

“Furthermore, in Kaduna State, the exercise had been suspended in Jema’a and Kaura as well as large areas of Birnin Gwari and Giwa on account of insecurity in the four LGAs.

“In addition, two of our staff were abducted by bandits but later released in Isa LGA of Sokoto state while on voter registration duty,” he said.

Mr Yakubu said the commission would keep monitoring and reviewing the situation nationwide, always bearing in mind the imperatives of ensuring the safety and security of INEC staff and registrants.

However, he said that in spite of the security challenges, INEC remained resolute in its determination to conduct the 2023 General Election as scheduled.

He said: “In doing so, every eligible Nigerian must be allowed to vote, including citizens despite Displaced Persons (IDP) camps.

“Happily, the Commission has a standing policy on IDP voting which has been periodically reviewed.

“In the light of the security challenges as guided by the provisions of the Electoral Act 2022, the Commission will immediately review the policy to ensure that no internally displaced Nigerian in any part of the country was disenfranchised.

“The issue of IDPs would be discussed at this meeting.

“The Commission is confident that our security agencies can deal with the security challenges ahead of the 2023 General Elections.

“Fortunately, we have started the preparation for the elections early. There is, therefore, ample time to deal with the current situation to enable all stakeholders to deploy nationwide for the elections.”

Yakubu added that INEC would continue to work with the security agencies for peaceful electioneering and conduct of elections, including holding high-level meetings with the security agencies and consultations with stakeholders immediately after the forthcoming national holidays.

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