EXCLUSIVE: Buhari May Settle For Ogbonnaya Onu As APC Presidential Candidate, To Meet Governors Today
The election of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar as the presidential flagbearer of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) may have altered the dynamics for the ruling All Progressive Congress which now has to go back to the drawing board to design a winning presidential ticket for 2023 election.
President Muhammadu Buhari will later today, Monday, meet with the APC governors to review the Governorship, National Assembly, and State Houses of Assembly primaries, and chart a way forward for the party’s presidential primary convention coming up on Saturday.
THE WHISTLER has been reliably informed that while Buhari and the leaders of the APC are looking to pair a southern presidential candidate with a northern vice presidential candidate, they are undecided on whom to give the presidential ticket.
Out of the 21 presidential aspirants in the APC, 15 are from the southern part of the country. They are Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, David Umahi, Ebonyi State governor, Kayode Fayemi, governor of Ekiti, Ben Ayade, governor of Cross River, Senator Rochas Okorocha, Rotimi Amaechi, former minister of transport and Godswill Akpabio, former minister of Niger Delta affairs.
Others are Ogbonnaya Onu, Bola Tinubu, national leader of APC, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, Ken Nnamani, former president of the senate, Pastor Tunde Bakare, Dimeji Bankole, a former speaker of the house of representatives, Nicholas Felix, a US-based Nigerian pastor and Uju Ohanenye, the only female aspirant.
But this website has learnt that President Muhammadu Buhari is being pressured to anoint a candidate and the president may do it today.
Two persons are said to be on the president’s shortlist of possible presidential candidates—Goodluck Jonathan and Ogbonnaya Onu, who was his immediate past Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation.
The source said Buhari favours Jonathan as his successor for two major reasons. This website has been told that the president, who has become fond of Jonathan, feels he should be given another chance so he too can do a second term as president.
But by far, the most persuasive argument for Jonathan’s candidature is that he can only do one term constitutionally and return power to the north. Having done one full term between 2011-2015, he cannot constitutionally do more than one term as president.
Jonathan is a possibility that pleases Buhari and the northern cabal in his government as it would mean the north would soon return to power after four years.
But the governors of the party are not sold on Jonathan as most of them believe the Otueke gentleman would be a hard sell to Nigerians in 2023.
The governors and many leaders of the party are of the opinion that if Jonathan is fielded as a candidate, the party would not only lose the 2023 presidential election but may also lose many states it currently controls.
Jonathan, according to the source, has also added to the huddles to make him a presidential candidate of APC, as the former president allegedly insisted he would not accept to run unless all aspirants agree to step down for him. “So for now, there’s a deadlock on Jonathan,” said the source.
This is why there is a silent lobby among governors and major stakeholders of the party for the choice of Onu as the consensus presidential candidate of the APC, this website was told.
The argument for Onu is even more persuasive than that of Jonathan, and Buhari may be pressured to anoint the former governor of Abia State.
One of the governors of the party told this website that giving Onu the APC ticket is the fastest way to end the insecurity in the southeast without compromising good governance and the corporate existence of the country.
The governor said Onu has supported the north for president, and especially Buhari since Nigeria returned to civilian democracy in 1999, and no one understands the north as he does.
“A northerner handing over power to an Igbo man from Southeast will be historic in the same way that Buhari’s election in 2015 was historic,” says the governor, who added that Onu is also a First Class brain who possesses the capacity and charisma for leadership of the country.
As Buhari and the APC governors meet today, it is expected that the president will try to feel the pulse of the people to help him decide on who to pick between Jonathan and Onu.
But if it is put to vote, according to our presidency source, Onu may take the day. If it happens, it holds the potential to signal a new dawn for Nigeria and to completely change the legacy of President Buhari who could have gone down in history as a sectional leader.