- It is no longer news that the Nigerian political terrain is very unpredictable and political experts can attest to his fact
- While Nigerians wait for the two gladiators who will emerge from the keenly contested APC and PDP primaries
- Some political watchers in the APC seem to be ignoring the signs that the president might already have a favourite within the ruling party
FCT, Abuja - There are hush tones within the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) that the immediate past minister of state for education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba is President Muhammadu Buhari's anointed successor.
Nwajiuba, a lawyer by training, is a staunch loyalist of the president since their days in the defunct All Peoples Party (APP). The 54-year-old politician contested for Imo governorship on the platform of the APP in 2003, 2007, and 2011.
While aspirants in the APC have been making a lot of noise in the media, Nwajiuba has gone on with his ambition silently.
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The former minister is the first among his ex-colleagues to buy the presidential form and he is not known to have had any media engagement since his presidential ambition became public knowledge. He also collected his presidential forms without the usual fanfare politicians are known for. Also, the minister has not invested in billboards or other forms of media campaigns like other aspirants.
He was also the first to resign from the Federal Executive Council before President Buhari's order that his appointees with political ambitions should step down. The president had singled him out for praise while dishing out the order. A report from Vanguard newspaper indicates that Nwajiuba resigned on Thursday, April 28.
Despite the permutations suggesting he is the president's favourite, Nwajiuba is no pushover in politics. He was elected a member of the House of Representatives in 1999 where he served as House of Representatives committee chairman on land, housing, and works.
Nwajiuba as a founding member of the APC
He was a founding member of the APC and secretary of the Constitution drafting committee that produced the Constitution that gave birth to the party in 2013. From 2017 to 2019, Nwajiuba was the chairman of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund. He was re-elected member of the Okigwe North Federal House of Representatives in 2019 under Accord Party and later nominated for a ministerial role that same year.
Interestingly, Nwajiuba's silent moves are reminiscent of the pattern in which Senator Abdullahi Adamu emerged as the APC national chairman recently. While other aspirants for the position went across the country consulting, Adamu, a former governor of Nasarawa state was largely out of the picture in the media frenzy.
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He was drafted in at the last minute after the party zoned the chairmanship position to the north-central and Buhari's last-minute order to APC governors to support his ambition. Senator Adamu never had giant billboards in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja like some of the contestants, but got the backing of the president.
Also worthy of note is the minister's seemingly closeness to Kaduna state governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai. Among all the APC governors, El-Rufai is no doubt the closest to the president. Unlike his colleagues who are always visiting Aso Rock, the Kaduna state chief executive stays back in his domain administering his government, but still has the ears of the president - a right he has earned ever since the president assumed power.
Inside sources provide more details on Nwajiuba
A source in the APC who pleaded anonymity told Legit.ng on Tuesday, May 10:
“He is the president's choice. Those close to the Villa know the other aspirants are simply wasting their time. Nwajiuba will clinch the ticket. The insinuation suggesting that Buhari will not back a southeast politician is false.
“Buhari knows Nwajiuba well. Both of them have been in opposition politics before the president assumed office in 2015. He is commonly referred to as 'Buhari's boy' in the core north. Just wait and see. I can tell you categorically that he is the chosen one. He knows it, that is why he has been going about this whole thing quietly so as not to attract any attention to himself.
“Remember that the president had himself said he won't reveal his favourite so as not to protect the person from desperate politicians who might want to harm him.”
But another source in the APC says the suggestion that the ex-minister has the backing of the president is a ruse.
The APC chieftain, who also doesn't want to be named said:
“It's a ruse. It is also a well-planned distraction by the powers that be. Nwajiuba has no political structure anywhere in the country. Even in his home state of Imo, he can't rub shoulders with Governor Hope Uzodimma.
“Of course, people will push out various narratives to distract party members, but trust me, it is all a ruse like I said. He is not even in the top five presidential aspirants in our party. He can't even flex his muscles in Imo not to talk of the southeast.
“Even this talk about him being close to the president is an exaggeration. Is he close to the president than Chief Ogbonnaya Onu or VON DG, Osita Okechukwu, or even Senator Chris Ngige who always leads southeast elders to the president? We still have Ken Nnamani there who has become closer to the president than any other southeast politician in recent times.
“There is also a sitting governor from Ebonyi, Umahi, you think the president will bypass these big names for Nwajiuba? It is not possible.”
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Meanwhile, APC presidential aspirant and Ekiti state governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi has revealed why the APC has so many presidential aspirants.
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Fayemi said the APC is the party of choice because it is likely to retain power at the federal level in 2023.
He made the comment while receiving members of the National Prosperity Movement from the northeast and northwest at his campaign office on Monday, May 9 in Abuja.
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Meanwhile, the APC Youth Development and Solidarity Forum recently tasked the party’s new leadership to consolidate on its rancour-free national convention to conduct a free and fair presidential primary.
To stand a chance at next year’s general elections, the group said the Senator Abdullahi Adamu-led executives must ensure that the party parades its most popular aspirant as a presidential candidate.
The forum made this known at a one-day rally in Abuja on Thursday, April 14 to congratulate Senator Abdullahi Adamu and his team.