Amidst speculation of moves to encourage former president, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, to join the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) ahead of the 2023 general elections, a chieftain of the party has foreclosed the emergence of the APC presidential candidate from the South-south and Southeast geo-political zones.
The two-time governorship candidate of the erstwhile ruling party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Borno State, now a chieftain of the APC, Alhaji Kashim Ibrahim-Imam, made the disclosure on Monday on an Arise TV monitored programme.
Speculation is equally rife that a certain power bloc within the ruling party has dropped Dr Jonathan and is now working on former Rivers State governor and incumbent Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, as an anointed candidate.
Incidentally, both Dr Jonathan and Rotimi Amaechi are from the South-South states of Bayelsa and Rivers State, respectively.
But speaking on Monday, the Chairman of the Board of Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND), Kashim Imam said the ruling party was not strong in the South-South and Southeast zones and it would therefore not pick its candidate from the two zones.
The APC chieftain who did not foreclose a Northern candidate maintained that the ruling party is strong in all the zones in the North and the Southwest.
The APC chieftain said he was not aware of the presidential ambition of Mr. Rotimi Amaechi.
He said: “Until such a time, as far as I am concerned, he is a serving minister (Amaechi). I am just telling you the reality of the politics of the APC. Our core areas of strength are the three zones in the North and across the South-West. It is only now that we are making incursions into the South-East and the South-South.”
Alhaji Kashim-Imam who defended the defection of the Zamfara State Governor, Bello Muhammad Matawalle, from the PDP to the APC dismissed the suit instituted by the main opposition party to challenge his action as a mere academic exercise.
The APC chieftain further claimed that the erstwhile ruling party introduced the defection of sitting governors and federal lawmakers from the opposition to the ruling party.
“Actually, I don’t persuade the Deputy Governor Aliyu Gusau my friend. His father, General Aliyu Gusau, is my elder brother. As for PDP going to court, I think it is too early in the day for them to even attempt to do that, too many rivers they say has been crossed in the past.
“I recall in the days of my tenure as a presidential adviser in charge of the National Assembly when a number of Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) senators led by the late Wahab Dosumu actually crossed from the ACN to the PDP. The PDP didn’t go to court then. My friend Senator Musilium Obanikoro defected then, the PDP didn’t go to court.
“I said this is 20 years in coming, perhaps it is just an academic exercise, it will be good to put this to test, we had defection on both sides but it is more like the pot actually calling the kettle black. The PDP set precedence for defection in this country, so, for them to be now at the receiving end and be crying is strange. I am sure it is my friend Nyesom Wike who said that we will put this to test. So, perhaps they are merely testing waters,” he said.