2023: President Buhari's annointed candidate revealed
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2023: President Buhari's annointed candidate revealed

The Minister of Science and Technology and Innovation, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, may be President Muhammadu Buhari’s favourite candidate to carry the flag of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), in the 2023 presidential election.

Although there were speculations yesterday that the screening of the party’s presidential aspirants earlier scheduled for May 23 may have been postponed to accommodate former President Goodluck Jonathan who is suspected to have submitted his nomination form through the backdoor, insiders suggested a completely different track in confidential discussions with LEADERSHIP last night.

“The press may have got the whole speculation about Jonathan wrong,” one of the sources with deep connections to the party and the Presidency said. “The real dark horse, the man to watch, is Ogbonnaya Onu.”

The source continued: “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.”

In Nigeria, state governors fund the parties and wield significant control over delegates at election time. Keeping political appointees out of the equation increases governors’ control. At the same time, however, it makes is easier for the President, who still exercises considerable power of patronage, to whip them in line.

Onu is not the only candidate that could potentially 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.”

At 70, age is not one of those advantages in country where there appears to be an increasing demand for youth and energy.

“That is true”, another well-connected source said last night. “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 South East.”

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.


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