The dangerous romance between Jonathan and APC [Pulse Editor's Opinion]

From all indications, it seems the former president has pitched camp with the very party that orchestrated his ouster from Aso Rock in 2015 and nothing can be more staggering than that.

Goodluck Jonathan's candidacy was rejected in the APC. (Pointblank)

Just when you think nothing can surprise you anymore in this clime, the Nigerian political scene keeps throwing up developments that upset such a belief and make you even want to question your sanity.

The latest episode in the repugnant series that's playing out in the polity is the shocking reports that the former president, Goodluck Jonathan, may have perfected his plans to contest for the presidency in 2023 on the platform of the Progressives Congress (APC).

The move, which had earlier been touted as a mere political gimmick, has now suddenly taken a life of its own with every recent development confirming that something was really afoot.

Constitutionally, one can argue that the jury is still out on whether the former president is actually eligible to vie for another four-year term of office as legal opinions have been divided on the matter.

While lawyers and legal juggernauts continue to hold varying positions on the topic, teaming up with the APC may present Jonathan with an unscalable hurdle in the court of moral responsibility.

It's a known secret that the emergence of APC marked the beginning of the end of Jonathan's second term quest, but what is even worth remembering is the brutal and vitriolic campaigns the then opposition party deployed to ensure his ouster.

And since taking power in 2015, the APC government has not missed an opportunity to remind Nigerians how horrible the Jonathan government was and most of the challenges bedeviling the country today are still attributed to his administration.

It'd be recalled that the Buhari-led Federal Government and the former president's wife, Patience, had a long-drawn legal tussle over some seized funds belonging to firms linked to the former First Lady.

While the propriety of that episodic encounter is better left for posterity to determine, one would expect Jonathan to feel disgruntled enough to not want to have any association with the government at the center.

However, as typical of any desperate politician, the former president has shown his willingness to endure whatever disrespect is thrown at his name if that's going to ensure his return to power.

Barring any constitutional hindrance, Jonathan is no doubt well within his rights to aspire for the presidency once more, but doing so on the platform of the APC will definitely amount to a betrayal of trust and goodwill not just to his admirers, but also to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), whose platform he used to attain power previously.

Indeed, providence has been mightily kind to Jonathan, but everything good luck brought his way would probably have been impossible without the PDP. One can make a compelling argument that the ex-president tops the list of people who have profited amazingly from the party without commensurate inputs.

Jonathan steadily climbed the political ladder from being a deputy governor to a governor in Bayelsa state, and from a vice president, to eventually becoming the president of Nigeria, all thanks to the PDP.

These are the kinds of feats that only reside in the imagination of many politicians, but he was able to scale all the hurdles with relative ease. Even though some of these were bestowed upon him, the party was forced to make some compromises at different times in order not to upset the apple cart.

In 2011, after completing the term of president Umaru Musa Yar'adua, Jonathan contested for the presidency, a decision that derailed the North and South rotational policy of the party. Eventually, the PDP constitution was bent to accommodate his ambition.

If there's anything that can be adduced as the reason for the party's downfall in 2015, it is unarguably Jonathan's ambition to seek a second term of office. The PDP suffered an absolute fall from grace right under his watch and that alone should have been enough reason to feel indebted to the party that gave him everything.

Jonathan left power as some sort of a hero due to his patriotic act of conceding defeat to Buhari even before a formal announcement by the electoral umpire. Although cruelly vilified while in office, the former president has been enjoying goodwill from Nigerians and all the available indices suggest that his popularity has shot up since his exit in 2015.

Jonathan's romance with the APC may have come to some as a surprise but the tell-tale signs have been there since the 2019 governorship election in Bayelsa state.

Shortly after the APC candidate, David Lyon was declared the winner by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), some chieftains of the party paid a courtesy visit to Jonathan to thank him for his 'support'.

That meeting appeared innocuous back then, especially with the notion that the PDP candidate was chosen without the former president's input and his alleged support for the APC was to teach his party a lesson.

However, speculation continued to link the former president to the party and this came when some APC governors led by the then-acting chairman of the party, Mai Mala Buni visited Jonathan for reasons undisclosed.

Subsequently, Jonathan also frequented the Aso Rock to brief Buhari on his assignment to Mali and it's believed that his chances of returning in 2023 may have been mooted during one of the sessions.

Even though Buhari and all the major stakeholders in the APC have kept a tight lip, the indisputable fact is that somebody has been plotting to sneak the former president in through the back door, and the next question now should be to whose benefit?

As the battle for a new president in 2023 hots up, the old debate about zoning has resurfaced again with the South clamouring for a power shift to the region after eight years of Northern rule.

While some Northerners have declared their support for power rotation, others are reluctant to agree to such calls and may have gone to work to engineer a quick return in 2027.

The purported dalliance between the erstwhile president and the ruling APC may have a catastrophic ending and there are enough pointers out there to back this prediction.

Having previously served a four-year term, Jonathan is only eligible for another four year-term, and making him the president would temporarily address the clamour for a southern presidency with possibly a northerner as his vice.

As compelling as this offer may seem, being part of such a gambit will erode all the respect and goodwill that Jonathan currently enjoys from Nigerians. That aside, taking part in any plot that's calculated to shortchange the Southern region in a long run will dent whatever reputation he has built for himself.

As things stand today, Jonathan remains a popular candidate, and any party that fields him may have an easy ride to victory in 2023. But if there's any party that deserves to profit from such popularity, it should be the PDP whom Jonathan holds a lot of gratitude for.

Given that the odds of getting the PDP ticket appear impossible, the former president will do well to associate with the party at this moment rather than staying aloof or hobnobbing with the ruling party.

As for the APC, fielding Jonathan as a candidate in 2023 is highly unlikely. However, in the slightest chance that it sails through, such a move will not only cause a split but will also amount to big injustice to all the qualified members who have toiled for the party since its creation.

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