Written By Anthony Iwuoma
Posted By Admin
Published By Fitness Network Communications
The bridge is pivotal in the affairs of man. Nothing happens in life without a bridge. Everyone needs a bridge; whether nations or individuals. To move from one era or point to another, we need a bridge to accomplish that, and not just a ramshackle bridge but one that is sturdy, balanced and proven.
The bridge is both a link and a transition. This is so in politics, especially the kind played in our clime.
In Deuteronomy 1:6, God told the children to move on after dwelling for too long on Mount Horeb, just the same way Nigeria has dwelt so long on the mountain of ineptitude, confusion and disorder. Nigerians have cried themselves hoarse, looking for a redeemer that has been delayed in coming.
Suddenly, a young man has clawed his way through the labyrinth of impregnable principalities and, in fact, describes himself as the much-needed bridge.
There are so many reasons Nwajiuba 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 also connected to the old and can easily convince them of the need to let go of power with the assurance that their interests would be well taken care of within the ambit of the law. He is pan-Nigerian and has real friends across the six geo-political zones of Nigeria. He is also Igbo and would easily be seen as the bridge, linking the Igbo to the country that has so much crushed them.
Nevertheless, this is a season of attacks. It is a period when envy and hate take centre stage, hitting and biting targets with characteristic venom. In this fight, all manner of weapons are deployed. It does not matter what the weapon is; what matters is that maximum damage must be done to the victim.
There is no better time than the electioneering period to rubbish supposed opponents. Strangely, these opponents never offended us in any way; we just don’t like them or our negative bent on them was induced by hearsay and vile propaganda.
So, many brickbats are hitting the self-effacing but effective ex-minister, simply because he wants to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari in 2023. Some ignorant people accuse him of not doing much as a minister while the universities have been under lock and key due to strike action by the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU.
Well, though he has left the cabinet, it is worth noting that Nwajiuba did a lot despite that tertiary education was not within his charge; his responsibilities are 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 belief and patriotism for Nigeria and is a reason he is in the race to create a new order. Yes, a new order, which is also why without prompting, he resigned from his enviable ministerial appointment once he had made up his mind to run for the presidency in order not to conflict with his interest. He was the first and only minister to do so while others waited to be ordered to resign by the president. Is that not honourable and exemplary on our shores?
Nwajiuba aims to build a society based on the rule of law because it is difficult to run the 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 in order; without order, nothing worked.
Interestingly, the ASUU challenge and failure to join the train of vote buyers seem to be the only grouse people have against him; not incompetence or corruption. Again, while others have been busy polluting the conscience of delegates, 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.
Beyond that, I believe Nwajiuba is being targeted because of his most likely potential to eventually emerge as the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, which is the second most important step to emerging Nigeria’s president after Buhari, having successfully obtained and submitted the expression of interest and nomination forms of the party.
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 again 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.
Obviously, that is why Nwajiuba is feared as the president’s suspected dark horse, hence the needless attacks. But he refuses to be caged by those who think his closeness to the president makes him the anointed candidate. According to him, everybody is close to the president and that it is only God that anoints. However, he believes that the issue is where the next president would be taking 200 million Nigerians. Such a president must be qualified and has the energy and passion to regenerate Nigeria. One does not have to look further, as Nwajiuba has the capacity to do all those and more.
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 post-presidency. 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.
APC needs to draw one or two lessons from what is happening to the imploding Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, after it jettisoned the zoning agreement, forcing Peter Obi’s exit, thus throwing open the doors for others to dump the party in droves.
According to Nwajiuba, the BRIDGE: “At 55, I am the bridge between those who are about to leave the stage and those who are coming on stage because this is what I have done in the last 30 years. I have run for almost all the political offices and I am probably the only person in the field, who is a member of the Judiciary, the Executive and the Legislature. Nobody has this kind of credentials; nobody who has this kind of experience – 30 years in business, 30 years in politics, 30 years in academics.’’
Not a few Nigerians believe in the competence of Nwajiuba to steer the ship of state right. Things shall get clearer in the coming days pregnant with great expectations. 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.