I think the most frequently asked question today is, who will succeed President Muhammadu Buhari? With over 35 aspirants openly declaring their interest as of today, a few still in the closet and more coming out, the field has never looked more crowded.
And last week, the decision by former President Goodluck Jonathan to put one leg in the ring, while pretending that he is being dragged, got party and non-party members even more confused.
Of course, those who are pressing him into the race – Governor of Yobe State and former All Progressives Congress (APC) interim Chairman, Mai Mala Buni; Kebbi State Governor Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, and a few ministers from the North – wish it would happen. But they know it won’t. Buni once led a delegation to Jonathan, to explore the possibility of the former president running with the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, as his running mate.
The strongest consideration is the potential four-year one-term limit of another Jonathan presidency. But the trap is that a post-election litigation over the 2017 constitutional amendment on “swearing-in”, could disqualify Jonathan and hand the position over to his running mate, if he wins.
After the visit, Jonathan asked for time to consult. It was, however, clear from the criticism that followed that decamping from the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and running on the ticket of the APC was a bridge too far.
Even if the APC were to grant the entry waiver, which Jonathan requested, he would still have to face the party primaries. And more important, the APC will have to convince its members, and perhaps the larger public, that the same man it branded Jonathan the Incompetent and Jonathan the Clueless has now become Jonathan the Messiah.
The renewed buzz about a potential Jonathan comeback, suggests that some elements in the APC still think that they can lead their party back to its vomit. And yet, they don’t think it’s an act of desperation. A number of insiders told me this week that nothing other than a desire to find someone who can preserve Buhari’s legacy is tempting the APC back to Jonathan. They obviously can’t imagine that the public will ask the APC, what legacy?