FORMER Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan has not endorsed a bid to have him seek a ruling party ticket to contest the presidential elections next year, his spokesman said late on Monday.
A group of supporters from northern Nigeria bought nomination forms for Jonathan to take part in the ruling All Progressives Congress party (APC) primary elections scheduled for the end of the month.
Jonathan’s spokesman Ikechukwu Eze said in a statement that the former president who held power under the People’s Democratic Party, now in opposition, between 2010-2015 did not authorise the purchase of the nomination forms, a requirement for candidates to take part in primary elections.
“While we appreciate the overwhelming request by a cross-section of Nigerians, for Dr Jonathan to make himself available for the 2023 presidential election, we wish to state that he has not in any way, committed himself to this request,” Eze said.
“We wish to categorically state that Dr Jonathan was not aware of this bid and did not authorise it.”
However, Jonathan has until next week to return the nomination form. Speculation has been building for months that he has been planning to return to national politics.
Others such as the minister of state for petroleum, Timipre Sylva, and the Senate president Ahmad Lawan have similarly received nomination forms, adding to the growing list of potential primary candidates.
It is common for Nigerian politicians to switch sides during elections, but it would be a surprising about-turn if the APC decided to embrace a candidate it once derided as incompetent when he was president.
President Muhammadu Buhari will step down next year after serving two full terms. More than 20 ruling party candidates have registered to contest the primary vote.
Registration will end on Tuesday and a party committee will screen the candidates, who include vice president Yemi Osinbajo, former Lagos state governor and party heavyweight Bola Tinubu, and several government ministers and state governors.
The field is expected to narrow once political horse-trading starts, which will lead to some candidates dropping out.