Amidst the intrigues that followed the zoning system of presidential election and the decision of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) to throw open the contest to all sections of the country and also work towards consensus candidates where possible, eyes are on All Progressives Congress (APC) to see if the party leadership will resort to open contests as well or adopt the zoning system; a set up to help solve the issue of inclusivity in the presidential elections.
As many people have declared interest in the race for the Nigerian president, some have changed their minds as well even as Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu has been silent and least known of his interest as he was among the last to declare his intention to run.
Ogbonnaya’s ambition to be the president of Nigeria did not start with this election. In 1998, towards the return to democracy from military rule, he ran and won the presidential primary of the All People’s Party (APP). To placate the South-west over the annulment of the June 1993 election allegedly won by Chief MKO Abiola, the presidential seat was ceded to them. As a result of that, Ogbonnaya relinquished his highly deserving and worked for candidacy – a sacrifice for the South-west, which they do not seem to be eager to do so for the South-east. APP went into alliance with Alliance for Democracy (AD) that birthed All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) on which Chief Olu Falae became the flag bearer.
Not reciprocating the political gesture given the people of the South-west by the South-east, has marked the South-west politicians aspiring for the presidential seat as greedy people. But, the elders of the South-west may have not forgotten as the Afenifere has been vocal in saying that it is the turn of the South-east to produce the next president.
Onu was the party chairman of the ANPP until the merger among the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) and Congress for Progressive Change (CPC). From the merger came the All Progressives Congress (APC).
From the time he stepped down from his presidential candidacy in 1998, Onu has not jumped party. He has been a loyal party man. His perseverance and patience is a virtue lacking among many politicians.
Since forming the political marriage that produced President Muhammadu Buhari, the ANPP which was a large bloc in the merger has been largely left in the cold. The CPC got the president, the ACN got the Vice president, and the nPDP that later joined the merger, got the 8th Speaker of the House and the 8th Senate President. Nothing much was awarded to the ANPP bloc of which Onu was the chairman and highly instrumental to the successful merger.
Apart from the seeming relegation of the said bloc, Ogbonnaya Onu is also justified to become the favoured aspirant coming from the South-east zone, should the APC decide to settle for a consensus candidate as well. It has been fervently argued that it is justifiably the turn of the South-east and equity should be upheld for inclusiveness.
APC is not currently widely accepted in the South-east as it should be as the people view the party with suspicion and should the party zone the presidential ticket to the South-east, they would make a major inroad and likely enjoy the loyalty of the people of the zone.
Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu is a highly qualified individual, a former governor, a former minister of Science, Technology and Innovation and a first class graduate of Chemical Engineering.
Should the presidential flag of APC be placed in Onu’s hands, it would have compensated for his sacrifice of stepping down for the South-west in 1998.
In declaring for president, Onu said, “I am convinced that I have the knowledge, the experience, the credibility, the education having been trained in one of the best universities in the world, the vision, the integrity, maturity and a man who can be trusted.”
He believes that, “the purpose is for Nigeria to do for the black people of the world, what Japan did for the yellow people,” adding that “we must bring discipline into our nation, promote Justice, fairness and equity and allow creativity to flourish.”
Onu said, “I have a dream that Nigeria will make one day lead the world. Let no one tell us that it cannot be done because if we cannot achieve it, our children can.” But the children who will achieve that are caught up in the pursuit of ethno-religious supremacy.
The humble disposition of Onu could be misconstrued as weakness in leading Nigeria of today where corruption, insecurity, and lack of cohesion have taken root but given his many years in administration and building interaction across the country, Ogbonnaya Onu will be able to manage Nigeria and its peoples.