Written By Anthony Iwuoma
Posted By Admin
Published By Fitness Network Communications
The presidential ambition of the immediate Minister of State for EducationHon. Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba has received a boost from members of Okigwe Forum, a socio-political elite group in Imo North Senatorial District, otherwise known as Okigwe Zone.
Rising from a crucial meeting on Friday, the group issued a statement, which was signed by its president, Sir Dan Orji, and Speaker, Sir Collins Anoro, endorsing Nwajiuba’s quest, describing him as the bridge Nigeria needs.
The statement read in part: “Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore and Indonesia’s Soekarno were such bridges for their respective countries, which now rank high on the world economic indices after climbing from obscurity to prosperity. “Coming to Africa, Rwanda has risen from the rubbles of a costly civil war to lead the pack because they discovered a bridge called Paul Kagame.
“We believe that a similar feat can be replicated in Nigeria, as it transits from the government of President Muhammadu Buhari to another in 2023 if it mounts a sturdy and balanced bridge like Hon. Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba.”
According to the statement: “For over six decades, Nigeria has been moving in circles but must now determine to advance beyond its pariah status.
“As God would have it, Hon. Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba has clawed his way through the maze of age-long political actors and, in fact, describes himself as the much-needed bridge.
“We agree wholeheartedly that at 55, Nwajiuba is the bridge between those who are about to leave the stage. He is the most experienced among the pack of contenders, having been a member of all the three arms of government, the Judiciary, the Executive and the Legislature, an experience which none of the contestants has.
“There are so many reasons the former minister is the bridge Nigeria needs. He is young and fits into the agitation for the young to take over the levers of power in this country. He is pan-Nigerian and has real friends across the six geo-political zones of Nigeria. Also, he is Igbo and would easily be seen as the bridge, linking the Igbo to the country that has so much crushed them.”
The group also frowned at those criticising Nwajiuba for allegedly not doing much to halt the protracted strike action by the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU.
“This is a season of attacks and a period when envy and hate take centre stage. In this fight, all manner of weapons are deployed and it doesn’t matter whether these targets offended their attackers or not.
“So, many brickbats are hitting the self-effacing but effective ex-minister, despite that Nwajiuba did a lot even though tertiary education was not within his charge. His responsibilities were to oversee Basic Education (primary and secondary schools). The main minister in the Education Ministry and the labour and finance ministers are closer to addressing the ASUU challenge than Nwajiuba, who could only attend to ASUU matters if specially assigned to him.
“However, he apologised to Nigerian students and expressed willingness to work with ASUU but needed it in school while things were being sorted out. Above all, he hinted at working out a scheme for the reactivation of university autonomy law so that universities would have a funding structure to make universities self-sustaining instead of coming cup in hand every time.
“The former minister is also a victim of the ASUU strike, as two of his children are also at home like other Nigerian children affected by the strike. Though he has the wherewithal to send his children to foreign schools like many others, Nwajiuba’s children are products of the Nigerian education system.
“That buttresses his love and belief in Nigeria and his level of patriotism. That is the reason he is in the race to create a new order. Nwajiuba aims to build a society based on the rule of law because it is difficult to run a government without rule of law. He is desirous of enthroning a rule-based society instead of the chaos being witnessed in all segments of the society, a reason he also did not join the army of contestants traversing the country, distributing huge sums of money to buy delegates. He believes that the country should be made to work according to the rule of law because nothing works where there is no order.
The group also commended the former lawmaker for being transparent and corruption-free, adding: “While others have been busy polluting the conscience of delegates with money, Nwajiuba has chosen to respect the men and women, trusting in their nobility to do the right and just thing for the good of the land today and tomorrow.”
It reeled out the presidential aspirant’s credentials: “Nwajiuba parades intimidating academic credentials that rank him among the most educated in the race. The 55-year-old is a lawyer and also packed with a doctorate in law. He was elected to Okigwe South Federal Constituency of Imo state in the House of Representatives in 1999 and served as Chairman, Committee on Land, Housing and Works. The consummate lawmaker was nominated the Best Legislator in the House of Representatives in a United Nations Democracy Study published in 2002.
“Nwajiuba joined the All Peoples Party, APP, when he contested and lost the Imo State governorship on its platform in 2003 and 2007, respectively. He tried again in 2011 on the platform of the Congress for Political Change, CPC, but also lost.
“He was one of the arrowheads of the merger that birthed the APC, and served as Secretary of the Constitution Drafting Committee that produced the constitution of the new party in 2013.
“Nwajiuba has served as the Chairman, Board of Trustees, Tertiary Education Trust Fund, TETFUND, and acquitted himself creditably.
“In 2019, he was re-elected member, representing Okigwe South Federal Constituency on the platform of Accord Party where he found refuge because of the shenanigans that denied him the APC ticket. However, he resigned after being appointed minister by President Buhari.
“A bridge-builder indeed, Nwajiuba has a large following across sections of the country and is perceived to be a dependable close ally of the president. Both have travelled a long political route together, dating back to their years in CPC, and were one of the president’s reliable ministers before resigning.
“He is astute and very strategic. He never even declared his interest to run for the presidency publicly unlike others but as soon as the APC started selling its forms, a group of concerned Nigerians pooled resources and bought the forms for him, making him the first to do so.”
On the purported entry of former President Goodluck Jonathan into the presidential race, the Okigwe Forum dismissed rumours of him being the APC consensus candidate, saying “Nobody should lose sleep over the touted ambition of former President Goodluck Jonathan. Being the gentleman that he is, Jonathan that was condemned as clueless and driven out of office on that score could not have become competent all of a sudden unless he wants to confirm that tag by throwing away the statesman status he acquired after he left office in 2015.
“It would also amount to a great betrayal of his people if Jonathan allows himself to be used by northern hawks to rob the South, especially the South-east, of what rightly belongs to them in total disregard for all that they did for him. Jonathan could not be that scrupulous.”
However, the group warned the party against taking any unpopular decision that could do more harm than good to its chances in next year’s elections.
“APC needs to learn lessons from what is happening to the imploding Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, after it jettisoned the zoning agreement, forcing Peter Obi’s exit, thereby throwing open the doors for others to dump the party in droves.
“Not a few Nigerians believe in the competence of Nwajiuba to steer the ship of state right. However, all eyes are on the national delegates to plant Nigeria on the bridge that would take it from famine to prosperity, and one hopes they would not mortgage their conscience and the future of their children because of transient putrid lucre,” the statement concluded.