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BUHARI’S SGF: WHOM THE CAP FITS
By Walter Duru

Published June 14th, 2015


A local Igbo adage holds that the eyes know and can identify a mature corn. In every contest, there must be winners and losers and the jostle over who emerges Secretary to the Government of the Federation under President Muhammadu Buhari shall not be an exception.

In principle, barring any last minute change of heart, the ruling All Progressives Congress-APC has zoned the office of the SGF to the South Eastern part of Nigeria. In the South East, stakeholders have indicated interest, but the final decision rests on President Buhari.

Leader of the APC in the zone and Executive Governor of Imo State, Chief Rochas Okorocha had long submitted a list of three candidates for the President’s consideration. They are: Senator Chris Nwabueze Ngige, immediate past Senator representing Anambra Central at the National Assembly, former governor of Abia State, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu and immediate past Secretary to the Imo State Government, Professor Anthony Anwuka.

Senator Ngige, a former governor of Anambra State, is believed to be building networks around his National Assembly colleagues and some influential serving and ex-governors to prevail on the President to appoint him. Lately, he is believed to have built a close alliance with former Rivers State governor, Rotimi Amaechi.

Ngige, a Medical Doctor and astute politician, has been very prominent in the political arena, but has been involved in several controversies, including the infamous ‘Okija Shrine’ saga.


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Professor Anthony Anwukah, a former Vice Chancellor of Imo State University and immediate-past Secretary to the Government of Imo State is an in-law to Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State. Among other contacts, Anwukah is banking on Governor Okorocha’s political weight and connections for his emergence.

His candidature appears to be unpopular among major stakeholders in the South East, as many see him as a ‘fresher’ who may not have directly contributed much to the success of the Party.

Another major obstacle to his emergence is his alleged indictment for fraud by the Imo State University White Paper, a reason which pundits adduce to his not being reappointed as Secretary to the State Government.

Next is Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, a former governor of Abia State. Onu was also National Chairman of the All Nigeria Peoples Party. He is known for consistency and steadfastness. He remained in opposition from 1999 till date and is believed to be one of the arrow-heads behind the success of the APC political coalition. He is believed to have a personal, age-long relationship with President Buhari.

Onu appears to be the most popular and acceptable among all the candidates. The jubilation that took over the air when it was rumoured a fourth-night ago that President Buhari had settled for him as Secretary to the Government of the Federation said it all. Hope and acceptance was visible on the faces of many. Even when I casually asked around, the answer was not different. Going for him are three major qualities of transparency, humility and zero tolerance for corruption.

An Owerri-based legal practitioner and human rights activist, Wisdom Durueke described him as “simple, articulate and not corruption-friendly.”

The critical role of the SGF in the new administration cannot be overemphasized. The task of wooing the South East and South-South to transfer their support to the President is such that can only be realized by a candidate acceptable to the people and Onu fits perfectly into that shoe. He is a very patient and grounded in administration.

Dr. Onu is a resolute believer in Nigeria’s unity as an instrument for national integration and development. As governor, he abolished the State of origin syndrome in Abia State and led the way in appointing non-indigenes of the State into top positions of responsibility in his administration.

An astute administrator, a true democrat and committed party loyalist, Dr. Onu demonstrated rare political discipline and consistency, by remaining one of the very few founding leaders of the opposition ANPP who remained in the party since its inception in 1998 until it merged into a new political party in 2013.

Little wonder, his fellow party men and women in September 2010, in recognition of his rare political fidelity, discipline, steadfastness and exemplary commitment to the party’s ideals, elected him their National Chairman. 

Onu as SGF might be the best thing to happen to President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration in Nigeria. “He shall be a perfect stabilizer, confidant and administrator to ensure that the ‘Change’ agenda is realized”, said Williams, a Port Harcourt-based Public Affairs analyst.

A closer look at the background of each of the candidates is important at this stage.  

PROFILE OF DR. OGBONNAYA ONU

Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu was born on December 1, 1951, to the family of His Royal Highness,  late Eze David Aba Onu, Eze Adu of Uburu in Ohaozara Local Government Area of Ebonyi State in Nigeria.

He obtained grade one with distinction in his West African School Certificate examination  at Izzi High School, Abakaliki, Ebonyi State. Dr. Onu also obtained distinctions in Physics and Chemistry at the Higher School Certificate examination at the College of Immaculate Conception, CIC, Enugu, graduating as as the best overall student. By 1976, he graduated with a first class honours degree in Chemical Engineering at the University of Lagos. He later obtained his Doctor of Philosophy degree in Chemical Engineering (without [passing through a Masters degree) at the reputable University of California, Berkeley, California, USA, in 1980, where he did extensive work on coal liquefaction and production of synthetic fuels under mild conditions. He showed that it was possible under relatively mild conditions to produce synthetic fuels comparable with crude oil.

While in the University of California, Berkeley, Dr. Onu was the President of the African Students Union; Member, Graduate Assembly of the University of California at Berkeley and also President of Nigerian Association of Northern California, Inc. Back home, he served as President General of his alma-mater, Izzi High School, Abakaliki, Old Boys Association..

Coming out of higher school, Onu taught at St. Augustine’s Seminary, Ezzamgbo, Ebonyi State. After completing his doctoral studies in the USA, he returned to Nigeria at the time when many others in his situation preferred to stay back. On coming back from overseas, he taught at the University of Port Harcourt as the Pioneer Head of the Department of Chemical Engineering. On several occasions, he served as Acting Dean of the University’s Faculty of Engineering and was also elected as a member of the Governing Council of the university. As a pioneer staff in the Faculty of Engineering and the first Head of the Department of Chemical Engineering, he helped nurture the department from scratch to a position of repute. As a member of the Governing Council of the University, he worked with others to provide leadership in its search for excellence.

While in  Port Harcourt, he became President of the Rotary Club of Port Harcourt and the Chairman of the Nigerian Society of Chemical Engineers of old Rivers, Cross River and Akwa Ibom States’ Chapter. Dr. Onu was the pioneer National President of the Raw materials Society of Nigeria. The Raw materials Society of Nigeria, (RMSN), with the sole aim of encouraging Nigerians to look inwards in the sourcing and utilization of raw materials, played a very important role in the establishment of the Raw Materials Research and Development Council, (RMRDC), by the Federal Government. He served as a member of the first Board of Governors of the Federal Government Raw Materials Research and Development Council. By the establishment of the RMRDC, there was no longer any need for the SMSN to continue to exist, since both of them had the same function.

Dr. Onu is a Fellow of the Nigerian Society of Chemical Engineers, Fellow of the Nigerian Society of Engineers and Fellow of the Nigerian Academy of Engineering. He was also one of the longest served Directors of the Nigeria Cement Company, Nigercem, Nkalagu, Ebonyi State. He was the Visitor of Abia State University, Uturu (1992-93), having worked tirelessly to secure the University for the State.

In 1991, Dr. Onu was elected the first Governor of old Abia State. He was the first Chairman, Conference of Nigerian elected Governors, the first Nigerian ever to head a forum of all governors. In 1999, he emerged the first Presidential Flagbearer of the then All Peoples Party, (APP), which was later known as the All Nigeria Peoples Party, (ANPP).

During his eventful tenure as Governor, he emphasized the use of technology as an important instrument for national development by starting work in the establishment of a Technology Village, and also worked towards introducing computers into selected public schools.

He introduced the Free Medical Health Care Programme which enabled poor pregnant women to receive free healthcare services as a measure to reduce death during pregnancy and childbirth. Security of lives and property were considerably enhanced such that within a single year, the Abia State Police Command received two letters of commendation from the Inspector General of Police. Also, the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) commended the State for working against all forms of examination malpractice in all schools.

Dr. Onu is a resolute believer in Nigeria’s unity as an instrument for national integration and development. As governor, he abolished the State of origin syndrome in Abia State and led the way in appointing non-indigenes of the State into top positions of responsibility in his administration.

Using the Abia dream as a philosophy to mobilize the people of the State to achieve excellence in all spheres of human endeavor, Dr. Onu founded the Abia State Polytechnic at Aba. He also established the College of Technical Education in Arochukwu and attracted the Michael Okwara Federal University of Agriculture, Umudike, near Umuahia. In addition, Dr. Onu established the Broadcasting Corporation of Abia State as well as the National Ambassador Newspapers, which then won several awards as the best state owned newspaper in Nigeria. As a God-fearing leader, he christened Abia “God’s Own State” and symbolized his noble dream for the State by building the ‘Abia Tower of Peace’.

In 1999, he emerged the first Presidential Flagbearer of the then All Peoples Party (APP), which was later known as the All Nigeria Peoples Part (ANPP). A true democrat and commited party loyalist, Dr. Onu demonstrated rare political discipline and consistency, by remaining one of the very few founding leaders of the opposition ANPP who remained in the party since its inception in 1998 until it merged into a new political party in 2013.

Little wonder, his fellow party men and women in September 2010, in recognition of his rare political fidelity, discipline, steadfastness and exemplary commitment to the party’s ideals, elected him their National Chairman.

As the head of the leading opposition political party, he was then the leader of opposition in the country. Dr. Onu remains a worthy role model for young politicians who are principled and would want to put service and the common good above all other considerations.

Just within a period of two years in office, as national chairman, the united the party and repositioned it for future electoral victory. Dr. Onu upheld internal democracy, adhered strictly to the constitution of the party and also introduced reforms in the ANPP. He initiated both a revised manifesto and constitution for the party. Through thoughtful and fearless comments on issues of national importance, Dr. Onu restored the lost glory of the ANPP to become A CREDIBLE opposition party in Nigeria. A man of ideas, he worked on ways of positioning the ANPP to lead Nigeria into issue-based and ideas-driven politics.

In 2010, as national chairman of the defunct ANPP, he initiated discussion with the leadership of the defunct Action congress of Nigeria (ACN) on how all the major opposition political could work together to effect change in the politics of the country. Later he also initiated meetings with the national chairmen of all major opposition political parties. All these efforts and many others finally resulted in the merger of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), All Nigeria Peoples Parties (ANPP), Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) and groups from the All Progressive Gran Alliance (APGA) and the Democratic Peoples Party (DPP). Hence on July 31, 2013, the All Progressive Congress (APC) came into existence. Dr. Onu and other party leaders willingly gave up their position as INEC withdrew the registration of ACN, ANPP and CPC. On November 26, 2013, the new PDP, broke away from the ruling political party and joined the APC. This helped make the APC, the largest opposition political party in the history of the country.

For over two decades, Dr. Onu delivered thought provoking lectures on different contemporary issues of national and global importance both within and outside the country. Some of the lectures include; “Nigeria should not allow one party rule” at the ANPP National Assembly Caucus, National Assembly Complex, Abuja; “Upon This Rock will Nigeria Arise” special session of the Kano State House of Assembly; “It is Time for Something”, special session of the Lagos State House of Assembly and “The Fist as Symbol of Strength”, special session of the Benue State House of Assembly.

Others are “Taking Nigeria for Granted”,  special session of the Yobe State House of Assembly; “The Eagles Flight in the Global Village”, special session of the Kebbi State House of Assembly and “ The Relevance of Opposition Parties in Deepening Democracy in Africa” maiden republic day lecture, Ghana national union of polytechnic students, Accra.

Honoured with several awards and recognitions both within and outside Nigeria, Dr. Onu is the 2004 man of the Year of the reputable American Biographical Institute. He was honoured with the Governor of the year (1992) Award and also the Star Governor (1993) Award. He is recipient of the Kwame Nkrumah Leadership Award 2011/2012 by the West African Students Union Parliament and also the University of Lagos Golden Jubilee Distinguished Alumni Award.

He is an honorable citizen of many cities in the world, in addition to the state of Texas in the United State of America. Dr. Onu also holds many traditional chieftaincy titles, notably: Ikeoha Uburu, Dike-Eji-Eme-Udo of Eastern States, Akajiugo Nnewi, Ogbuagu Abiriba, Ugochinyere Umuahia, Ozurumba Orlu, Odiiukonamba Eziudo Mbaise Dikeora Abagana, Ikemba Afikpo.  He is also the Togbe Kwami Vidza of District, Ghana. Dr. Onu is a member of the ancient and noble order of the knights of St. John international (KSJ).

He is the author of many books, notably: “Technology and National Development”, “Building a Modern Nigeria” and “A Footprint: Memoirs of a Chief Servant”.

A fine statesman, brilliant scholar, outstanding intellectual, accomplished administrator, prolific author and poet, a man of great ideas and inventions as well as a distinguished man of exceptional principle and exemplary character. He is married to Dr. (Mrs.) Chinyere Onu, with children.

PROFILE OF SENATOR (DR.) CHRIS NWABUEZE NGIGE

Dr. Chris Nwabueze Ngige (born 8 August 1952) was governor of Anambra State in Nigeria from 29 May 2003 to 17 March 2006 under the People Democratic Party (PDP). He is currently a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC). He was elected Senator for Anambra Central Constituency in April 2011

medical doctor by profession, Ngige graduated from the University of Nigeria-Nsukka in 1979. He immediately went into the civil service, serving at the National Assembly and State House clinics at different times. He retired in 1998 as a Deputy Director in the Federal Ministry of Health]

Thereafter, Ngige turned to politics, becoming a founding member of the People's Democratic Party (PDP). By 1999, he was Assistant National Secretary and Zonal Secretary of PDP in the South East region of the country.

In 2003, he was elected governor of Anambra State in controversial circumstances. He quickly broke ranks with his political godfather, Chris Uba, brother of Andy Uba, after an unsuccessful attempt on 10 July 2003 to have him removed from office, through a fabricated letter of resignation which the state assembly accepted. However, in August 2005, an election Tribunal led by Justice Nabaruma nullified Ngige's 2003 victory. He appealed to the Nigerian Federal Court of Appeal, but the annulment was confirmed on 15 March 2006, in a judgment awarding victory to Peter Obi of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA). No further appeals were possible, and Ngige accepted the judgment in good grace, calling on the people of Anambra to give their total support to his successor. Ngige's 33 months in office were characterised by populist programmes, especially road construction, leaving him in good standing with the electorate.

Following Peter Obi's subsequent impeachment, Ngige attempted to participate in state governorship elections in April 2007, but was frustrated by a dubious Independent National Electoral Commission and federal 'disqualification', even after a Federal High Court had voided the disqualification. In the final event, Obi's impeachment was overturned anyway, and Obi served out his four years. At the time, Ngige was also severely criticized for appearing naked at the dreaded Okija voodoo shrine during his campaign to be made governor.

On February 6, 2010, Ngige again contested for the governorship of Anambra State. Other notable politicians who contested with him included Andy Uba, Charles Soludo, Nicholas Ukachukwu, Mrs. Uche Ekwunife, Ralph Nwosu, and the incumbent governor, Peter Obi. In all, there were 25 candidates for that election. Peter Obi won that election and started his second term as the governor of Anambra State.

In April 2011, Ngige ran for election for Senator of Anambra Central, on the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) platform. After voting problems in some areas of the constituency on 9 April, the election in these areas was held on 25 April and Ngige was declared the winner over former Minister of Information and Communications Professor Dora Akunyili of the APGA, with 69,765 votes to Akunyili's 69,292.

In the just concluded general elections, Ngige lost his Senatorial seat to Uche Ekwunife of the Peoples Democratic Party-PDP.

 

PROFILE OF PROFESSOR ANTHONY ANWUKA
Professor Anwuka was born on 22nd April, 1951 in Egbuoma Town of Oguta Local Government Area of Imo State. A Professor of Education and a Public Administrator, he was until recently, the Vice Chancellor of the Imo State University, Owerri for five years.

EDUCATION:
His academic prowess had taken him outside Nigeria for higher studies. He did his doctorate degree programme in General Curriculum, System Analysis and Social Studies at the University of Washington Seattle, USA in 1977. Prior to this, he did his Masters in Educational Administration and Planning at the University of Portland, Oregon, USA in 1975. At Fourah Bay, University of Serra Leone, (1974), he studied English Language and Literature and had Second Class (Hons) degree, Upper Division.

JOB HISTORY:
Professor Anwuka had in August 2001, participated at the Commonwealth Vice-Chancellors Leadership Conference, Dundee Scotland UK.
Professor Tony has worked as a Teaching Assistant, University of Washington, Seattle 1976-1977, Curriculum Resource Person/Instructor, Specialist Seattle Opportunities Industrialization Centre (SOIC) 1977 1978; Senior Lecturer, University of Maiduguri, 1983-1985; Reader, University of Maiduguri, 1986 1998; Curriculum Resource Person/Consultant, Nigerian National Teachers Institute, (NTI), Kaduna, 1983 1986. He acquired the rank of Professor of Education from former Imo State University, now Abia State University Uturu, 1989-1993. Current, Professor of Education and one time Dean, Faculty of Education, Imo State University Owerri, 1993 – 1994.

MEMBERSHIP OF PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATIONS:

  • National President, Curriculum Organization of Nigeria (1990-1994).
  • Member, Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASDC) United States of America.
  • Executive Member (Editor-in-Chief), Nigeria Association of Education Administrators and Planners, (1992-1998).

    ADMINISTRATIVE RESPONSIBILITIES::
    Interestingly, Professor Anwukah has overtime extended his Professional service to-

  • Member, Governing Council, Federal College of Education, Kano (1992 1994).
  • Member, former Imo State University, now Abia State University Governing Council, and Council Representative in the University Secondary School, (1994- 1996).
  • University Orator, Imo State University, (1994-2000).
  • Member, Imo State University Governing Council, (1999-2005).

    RELIGIOUS/SOCIO-CULTURAL AFFILIATIONS:

  • A knight of the Order of St. Mulumba – a highly respected Order in the Roman Catholic Faith.
  • President, Rotary Club of Okigwe, (1992).
  • National President, Egbuoma Town Progressive Union, Oguta (1990-1994).

    Professor Anwuka for the past twenty years has served as External Examiner for undergraduates and post graduate programmes in the Nigerian Universities and Colleges of Education. He has also served as External Assessor for positions of Professor and Readership in both Nigeria and foreign Universities. He is happily married to Hon. Justice (Mrs.) C. U. Anwuka of Imo Judiciary Owerri and blessed with three children.


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