A routine check of Nigeria’s political temperature at the moment is bound to reveal a “high” result. Unlike previous eves of general election seasons, this one is particularly crucial, given the challenges sweeping through all chief sectors of the country concurrently. Education, security, economy, power and health gasp for breath. Nigerians seem exhausted, in need of rejuvenation. Who would go for us? This familiar poser is one All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftains, members and supporters ponder on. With the emergence of a northerner as the party’s national chairman, a southerner is most likely an obvious choice for the presidency. Is that person going to be Governor David Nweze Umahi of Ebonyi State?

The gap between where Nigeria is right now and where it ought to be is yet to be fully closed. Despite concerted efforts of the present administration to turn the tide, reservations about the status-quo abound. Government is a continuum. As the APC presidential primary election approaches, rivers of speculation run through various quarters of the country. Foray for a tested candidate who is capable of bringing the change, transformational ideals of the party to bear as President is on the front burner. Going by criteria of performance, zonal origin, marketability and popularity, Engr. David Umahi is a round peg in a round hole.

Mention of Ebonyi’s number one citizen is borne not out of hearsay or prejudice but of facts, attestation to the development revolution he engineered in the youngest south-eastern state. For the past seven years, Ebonyi has become akin to a construction site. With decades of experience in civil engineering bagged by Umahi, this comes as no surprise. Not many state governors in Nigeria in the past and present have carried over their professional practice to governance so tangibly. This underlines Engr. Umahi’s unwavering commitment to giving his sphere of influence an edge. The comparative advantage Ebonyi enjoys in terms of solid infrastructure—such as roads, bridges, state-of-the-art market buildings, airport, etcetera, attractive to investors, is what Umahi would bring to the national table in Aso Rock.

More so, Gov. Umahi’s emulation and concretization in leadership style of an excerpt from President Muhammadu Buhari’s 2015 inaugural speech, “I belong to everybody and I belong to nobody,” distinguishes him as the President Nigeria direly needs in 2023. At a time wherein ethnic tensions and secession agitations are rampant, it is crucial to look in the direction of a candidate whose victory would end the narrative of marginalization and administration would warmly embrace every geo-political zone of the country. As an apostle of inclusivity, a David Umahi candidacy sends an unequivocal message to Nigerians to pitch their tent with APC, irrespective of tribe or religion.

Besides the given Gov. Umahi is a south-easterner, suffice it to say he possesses rich experience in workings of government, having been a state party chairman, deputy governor and governor for over a decade. It is this political savviness that paved way for his appointment as leader of South-East Governors Forum by fellow governors. Indeed, there are good presidential candidates in APC but it would be short-sighted to not see Umahi as the candidate who ticks most of the boxes for APC and Nigeria. An oversight the ruling party cannot afford.

Thus, imminence of the presidential primary election makes it essential for APC delegates to bear in mind they are at history’s threshold. Playing their role wisely in midwifing a better Nigeria cannot be overstressed. Posterity will judge them either kindly or harshly for their majority position. It would be foolhardy to present a candidate APC would struggle to sell to Nigerians in the face of growing unkind perceptions towards the party. From the foregoing, Engr. David Umahi can rise to the occasion and make the needed difference. Progress awaits.

•Dr. Celestine Perterson George writes from USA

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