(By Iheanyi Ezinwo)– Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, Nigeria’s Minister of Science and Technology, is a pleasant name in the politics of Nigeria.
In the over three decades that he has been involved in politics, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu had shown finesse. He has also consistently demonstrated uncommon patriotism, vision, team work and humility.
In his current ministerial assignment, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu has been discharging his duties with a very high sense of responsibility.
Although some may have forgotten, but it is important to recall that this same Ogbonnaya Onu emerged as the presidential candidate of the All People’s Party in 1999, the same time that Chief Olusegun Obasanjo was chosen as the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party.
However, while the emergence of Dr.Onu as presidential candidate of his party was being celebrated, an idea was quickly conceived that All People’s Party should merge with Alliance for Democracy, to pave way for the emergence of a Yoruba candidate – who who will then challenge Chief Obasanjo, another Yoruba, for the office of President of Federal Republic of Nigeria.
That initiative was in tune with the thinking, at the time, for the candidates of the two leading political parties to come from the Western part of Nigeria.
Well, unlike some who would have rocked the boat if they were not allowed to contest, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu agreed to step aside. He subordinated his aspiration to the overall interest of the nation. The rest is history: Chief Obasanjo won that election and served for eight years as president.
That singular action of Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, stood him, and still stands him out as a man of character; a patriotic politician; team player, and projected him as a detribalised Nigerian, who is not desperate in his quest for political power.
Even while he served as lecturer at the University of Port Harcourt in the 80’s, Dr. Onu was a distinguished academic and a great asset. He has a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley. He had earlier graduated with a First Class degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Lagos.
As the first Executive Governor of Abia State in 1992, and then first chairman of elected Nigerian governors, the Ebonyi State – born politician, though firm, was fair to all.
Dr. Onu has been tested at state and federal levels, and in all, his services have been faultless. In 2010, Dr. Onu was chosen as the National Chairman of the All Nigerian Peoples Party. Predictably, Dr. Onu discharged his assignments excellently , resolving conflicts, providing direction, and ensuring that no one was left behind.
Since his appointment as Minister of Science and Technology in 2015, and his re-appointment in President Muhammadu Buhari’s second term, Dr. Onu has been working hard but quietly to advance Nigeria’s Science and Technology aspirations.
There is no doubt that Dr. Onu has paid his dues. He has demonstrated love for Nigeria; proved to be detribalised; a team player, and some one who can be trusted for the top job of president of Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Meanwhile, as Nigerians ponder over President Muhammadu Buhari’s successor in 2023, it is important that they look in the direction of politicians with positive antecedents. Leaders who have been tried and tested and found to be loyal to the national course. Men of integrity and vision, who have unblemished record of accommodating the interests of all Nigerians, irrespective of religious, political and tribal affiliations.
Truly, leaders, who are fit and proper persons to succeed president Buhari are not lacking. However, deliberate efforts must be made to separate the wheats from the tares.
Besides, Nigerians can consolidate on the political gains recorded so far in leadership succession, as well as in the promotion of national unity by zoning the presidency to Igbo land, just the same way it was conceded to Yoruba in 1999, and then to the North, with President Buhari on his second term in office.
Although aspirants from the South West have the constitutional right to contest, but it is in the overriding national interest that they concede 2023 to some one of Igbo extraction.
The reasons are not far fetched. Chief Obasanjo, from Yoruba had served as president for eight years. Another Yoruba man, Prof.Yemi Osinbajo, is on his second term of eight years as Nigeria’s Vice President.
With the Yoruba’s taking these positions in a short time while the Igbos remained in the cold, it is only fair that someone from Igboland be supported to become the next president of Nigeria.
The Igbos are ripe for the office. While it is nit in doubt that they have the ugly, it is also true that they parade the best of the best, and Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu is one of them. He has on several occasions in the past, and even in his present office demonstrated that he is a true patriot, who can be trusted. One is therefore not in doubt that, with Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, who has seen it all in Nigerian politics as president in 2023, that Nigeria will be in safe hands.It would be an interesting way to reward a man who loved so much, and willing to give up his own ambition at the time – for the unity of his country.
Iheanyi Ezinwo, founder of Notable Outcome, worked with Dr. Onu in the early eighties at the Faculty of Engineering, University of Port Harcourt.