After all the strategic deliberations and re-deliberations on an expedient date for the party’s presidential primary election, 6th to 8th of June, many Nigerians now anticipate with bated breath. As the countdown goes on, ruling APC delegates warm up to decide who would collect the baton from President Muhammadu Buhari to continue the race to higher levels of change in Nigeria. Hyperbolism aside, Governor David Nweze Umahi exemplifies APC’s change mantra most amongst all the contestants. Political and performance factors stand him out as the party’s knight in shining armor.
Politically, a David Umahi candidacy addresses decry of marginalization from southern Nigeria by APC’s Buhari administration, particularly the south-east, and repudiates prevalent skepticism about the party as an all-embracing institution of equity. Inspired by our constitution’s federal character principle, expectation of power to tilt southward at the expiration of Buhari’s tenure in 2023 is a given. Umahi ticks the dual boxes of a southern and south-eastern candidate. His popularity and acceptability—undergirded by giant strides in Ebonyi State—would make the engineer’s emergence douse wildfires of agitation in the south-east and other zones. Umahi’s super cordial relationship with President Buhari, and detribalized stance boost prospects of his good reception in the north.
More so, performance-wise, Engr. Umahi is the go-to APC presidential candidate. As an OPEC member with copious arable land, why is Nigeria still not in the developed countries category? His avowed commitment to sparking an upward turn in Nigeria’s development status proceeds from a place of pedigree, neither wishful thinking nor political promises. Ebonyi before and after Umahi is a resounding reminder of the asset of visionary leadership. Rising from rural realities to rivaling other states in the south-east and other geopolitical zones of the country in terms of urbanization is amazing. The Dubai-like shopping mall, more than 600 roads, flyovers, bridges, high-end medical university, international airport, and market, increased demand cum distribution of Abakaliki rice, to mention a few, glimpse what awaits Nigeria with Umahi in Aso Rock. APC National Executive Committee and delegates can make this happen.
But since Atiku Abubakar emerged as PDP’s presidential candidate, skeptics may contend, that a northern APC candidate would be a fitting counteraction. With a northern presidency winding up, this is bound to invite chaos to the party, triggering disaffection and disintegration within. An exodus might be inevitable and intractable. Southern Nigeria would lose confidence in the party regardless of how persuasive the sermon; vice-presidency won’t suffice. A balance between equity and victory must be sought, not at the former’s expense. Having a verifiable nation-building reputation is crucial.
Finally, a formidable southern aspirant like Umahi with a northerner of the same ilk can win the 2023 presidential elections, if marketed well to Nigerians. He would appeal to the south-east (that hasn’t produced a head of state/president since 1966 and feels alienated) and other zones of the south while complementing the efforts of his running mate in the north. APC’s victory in the 2015 presidential elections is proof the party can achieve the unprecedented in one accord. With David Umahi as presidential flag bearer this time, APC can have a bulls-eye shot at Aso Villa again.
Francis Nwaze Is The
Special Assistant to the Governor On Media and Publicity