An insider source has claimed that President Muhammadu Buhari’s preferred candidate in the upcoming 2023 election is the former minister of Science and Technology and Innovation, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu.
According to reports, Buhari and Onu share a long political history. They were both in the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP). While Buhari, in 2010, left to form defunct, Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), Onu emerge national chairman of ANPP.
The source also informed the Leadership that the notion of All Progressives Congress (APC) giving the presidential ticket to former President Goodluck Jonathan may be wrong.
He said: “The press may have got the whole speculation about Jonathan wrong.
“It’s because the scales are tipping in Onu’s favour that President Buhari has delayed the signing of the amendment to the Electoral Act, that may have permitted political appointees to be voting delegates at the primaries.”
Onu is not the only candidate that could benefit from the exclusion of political appointees in a field that boasts over 25 APC aspirants who have submitted nomination forms, but who mostly have weak party structures. The source said, however, that “Onu carries additional appeal and advantage.”
Another source stated that Onu’s emergence as APC presidential candidate will favour the call for youths’ participation in Nigeria’s national politics and also rubbish the claim that Buhari is tribalistic.
According to the source: “But Buhari is looking for something more than age. He is desperate to redeem his legacy, especially in the wake of the raft of crises facing the country. You know the role of Buhari, his sacrifice, and that of the Nigerian Army during the civil war.
“Rooting for Onu would be a masterstroke for the country’s unity at this time. It would repair Buhari’s damaged legacy, especially the accusations of nepotism against him. And increasingly, the thinking inside the Villa is that it is both fair and right to look to the southeast.”
The source added that Onu, an engineer with a PhD in Chemical Engineering, has enjoyed a long-standing relationship with Buhari dating to their days, first in the All Nigerian Progressives Party (ANPP), under whose flag Buhari contested the 2003 election.
Although he is only one of the six South East candidates in the race – the others are Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State; former Imo State Governor Rochas Okorocha; former minister of state for Education, Emeka Nwajiuba; former Senate President Ken Nnamani; and Mrs. Uju Ohanenye – he has served in Buhari’s government as minister since 2015, making him the longest-serving South East minister left in the race.
He is also believed to share similar values of ascetism with the president, his only major run-in with controversy being his promise in 2018 to create 400,000 jobs by producing pencils locally, a promise kept in the breach.
“I can tell you,” the source said, “that increasing, those with big money are less favoured.”
There were indications yesterday that Buhari could convene a meeting of the aspirants on Wednesday to hint at his preferred candidate, a move that could whittle down the crowd of aspirants significantly ahead of the Sunday primaries.
It would be recalled that this was the strategy used to choose the new APC national chairman, Abdullahi Adamu, in March.