By Gab Efo
Like a meteor, Hon. Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba is almost a fast rising star in the political landscape of Nigeria. Nwajiuba represented Obowo/Ehime Mbano/Ihite Uboma Federal Constituency at the House of Representatives from 1999 to 2003.
In 2002, he made attempts to contest for the governorship of Imo State under the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) but he failed to actualise his ambition owing largely to the consensus in the party that his senatorial district with six local government areas was too weak to challenge an incumbent who hailed from a senatorial district with 12 local government areas. Despite his closeness to the then national standard bearer of the party, he caved quietly in.
Over the years, he has continued to maintain his relationship with the then GMB culminating in his aspiration to becoming a governorship candidate of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) in 2011. CPC was collapsed into All Progressives Congress, APC, the ruling party in Nigeria from 2015 till date. Nwajiuba, as he is fondly called, was rewarded with a plum position as Chairman of the Board of Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND), an intervention agency in the development of tertiary institutions’ infrastructural and human resources.
From this vantage position where he dispensed patronage, he thought to vie for the governorship in Imo State. Again, he was persuaded by the powers that be to contest for a position in the National Assembly in Abuja to provide an opportunity for him to be elected Speaker of House of Representatives. Of course, this exalted office was seen as the pedestal to launch presidency for people of Igbo extraction in 2023.
With current realities, it seems there is a crack in the group as Mallam Nasiru El Rufai, the incumbent governor of North Western State of Kaduna has said he is backing Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila for the speakership. Political pundits suspect that El Rufai may desire to have a shot at the 2023 Presidency, having recently dropped his ambition for the Chairmanship of NGF Nigeria Governors Forum which he had intended to use as launching pad for 2023 race. To salvage his ego, El Rufai, a Chartered Quantity Surveyor by primary profession, was persuaded to be the one to nominate Dr. Kayode Fayemi, the Ekiti State governor.
It appears Nwajiuba assisted by the powers that-be and struggling through court processes to dispossess Hon. Chike Okafor of All Progressives Congress, APC, the incumbent of his constituency, the Certificate of Return, is walking a tight rope. Yet, Nwajiuba’s quest for the speakership may have been a stab in the heart to the core followers of the group by the pronouncement coming from Kaduna that President Buhari is the chief propagator of the Gbajabiamila project.
That Emeka Nwajiuba could not get an APC’s nod to be their candidate forced him move to Accord party on what some insiders say was mutual understanding with the powers that-be. The Accord party he is bandying may be a hard sell for APC that is seeking to assert authority and identity following what looked like a hijack of the 8th Assembly by the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
Should Emeka Nwajiuba succeed in pushing out Hon. Chike Okafor who had served as Commissioner of Finance in Rochas Okorocha administration from 2011 to 2015, then he may be in a firm position to orchestrate his envisaged aspiration. Embattled Okafor before going into House of Representatives from 2015-2019 later fell out of favour with Rochas for failing to run on African Action Congress, AAC ticket with Uche Nwosu, his son-in-law.
Analysts predict that if Nwajiuba fails to notch the speakership of the 9th House of Representatives, it may signal the death knell on his chance from Igbo extraction to become Nigerian President in 2023. After all, he was expected to draw from the goodwill and support of President Buhari from the North especially and the country in general.