A group under the aegis of Coalition of Northern Groups on Monday purchased the All Progressives Congress expression of interest and presidential nomination forms for former President Goodluck Jonathan.
This was as the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, also paid for the APC presidential forms, swelling the number of aspirants in the ruling party to about 28.
This came to the fore on Monday as the party said it would not force any aspirant to sign the withdrawal paper attached to their nomination forms.
Flaunting the forms at the International Conference Centre in Abuja, the coalition led by Ibrahim Abdullahi described Jonathan as the most qualified candidate to succeed the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.).
The payment acknowledgment slip obtained by one of our correspondents bore Jonathan’s name as the recipient of the nomination form.
Jonathan, who was first elected under the umbrella of the Peoples Democratic Party in 2011 after completing the tenure of the late Umaru Yar’Adua, had told his supporters in April to “watch out” for his possible return.
Findings by The PUNCH indicate that the ex-President joined the ruling party in September 2021.
Sources confirmed that Jonathan has been a card-carrying member of the APC for the past nine months.
Before the latest development, Jonathan was said to have been in talks with some senior Presidency officials who reportedly assured him of the APC presidential ticket if he joined the race.
The ex-President was said to have sought assurances that he would be given certain waivers, including being adopted as the consensus presidential candidate by the ruling party for the 2023 election.
Under the deal, Jonathan would rule for one single term of four years and hand over power to his vice president who would be a Northerner.
Jonathan had yet to deny or admit the alleged deal.
The ex-President’s entrance into the presidential race is expected to change the dynamics of the contest in the APC.
Announcing his declaration in Abuja while receiving the N100 million APC forms presented to him by a political group, National Stability Project, led by Chief Sam Nkire, Lawan said he had consulted widely and promised to play the game by the rules.