The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has denied widespread rumour that it plans to field the immediate former President Goodluck Jonathan as its candidate in the 2023 presidential election.
A report published last week had said some northern governors were working hard to ensure that Jonathan got the APC ticket.
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However, the party has denied the claim, describing the story as fabricated by some people.
Mai Mala Buni, Governor of Yobe State, who also doubles as the Chairman of the APC Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee, said in an interview with the BBC Hausa service, "Those peddling such information, they are afraid. But for now, there is nothing in the APC which has anything to do with the aspiration for 2023."
"Even if someone wants to base assumption on our recent visit to him (Jonathan) during his birthday, we were there because of his capacity as a former President of Nigeria.
"Again, even if there is nothing, when we are talking of peaceful coexistence, we must give credit to former President Jonathan on the issue of peace. How he accepted defeat in 2015 and resigned to fate. That has qualified him to be a statesman and he is now among our fathers."
Governor Buni said it was customary to visit other people and exchange pleasantries.
"Our visit to Jonathan was pronounced because of his status as a former president; that could be why some may think there was something beneath.
“There were numerous such visits to leaders of Peoples Democratic Party and the APC; why are others not being mentioned but Jonathan?" he asked.
But when asked if the APC would be willing to accept the former President if he shows interest in joining the ruling party and being its candidate for the 2023 presidential election, Buni said that would be a new discussion entirely.
"Even in America where we got this democracy, I've not seen where people are being confined to a limit," he said.
And when asked if the APC was indecisive on Jonathan, Buni said, "You are talking of democracy and at the same time talking of giving him, don't forget even when President Muhammadu Buhari went to revalidate his party membership in Daura, he said it is the people at the grassroots that will select leaders upwards, that no one should expect to be crowned from Abuja. This has shown that in the APC now, it is from the lower level upwards, not that people will be imposed from the top.
"Then who are we to say we are considering Jonathan? How? It has to be a party affair and once it is a party affair, then we are talking about the people. So, we have nothing like that on our agenda. What we have now, and is of importance to us, is to ensure peace amongst party members. Also, (it is) to bring members of other political parties, whichever party it might be, whoever wants, should come into the APC. This is our plan for now. We have yet to start talking about aspirants, we are not in any discussion about aspirants.”
Saharareporters, New York