As consultations continue across the country for credible Nigerians who can pilot the affairs of the new administration, the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) has appealed to President Bola Tinubu to consider one of its former leaders, comrade Daniel Onjeh, for appointment as a cabinet minister.
In a statement released and signed by the NANS President, Comrade Usman Barambu, the organisation described Onjeh as one of its finest predecessors, who had paid his dues and rendered selfless service to Nigerian students and the nation at large in the area of pro-democracy and human rights activism.
NANS equally commended President Tinubu for what they termed “the unprecedented momentum” with which his administration had hit the ground running with his Renewed Hope Agenda. They noted that Nigerian students were confident in President Tinubu’s capacity and commitment to champion a national revolution in every facet of Nigeria’s socio-economic and political polities; based on his visionary, responsible and responsive leadership.
The apex student body said they felt very proud to identify with President Tinubu’s sterling leadership, and will forever fondly regard him as a member of their fold in the true spirit of the revolution because of his contributions to the stiff resistance to military rule in Nigeria.
“Surely, posterity cannot forget in a hurry that you are amongst the very few brave and selfless young Nigerians that stood up resiliently when it mattered, to fight for the enthronement of the democracy that we are all enjoying today. The numerous risks you had taken, and sacrifices made to sustain the pro-democracy struggle on the dais of the erstwhile National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) are well documented and indeed, legendary. Your stiff opposition to military rule will forever reverberate with the Nigerian student movement.”
“Even with the return to civil rule in 1999, you still continued to fight doggedly for the entrenchment of democratic tenets and the genuine independence of the various federating units, while you served for eight meritorious years as the Governor of Lagos State. We believe that the difference is usually very clear when a true activist is entrusted with political power,” stated NANS.
In the 17-Paragraph open letter, NANS reminded the President that the Nigerian students were equally in the fore-front of the pro-democracy struggle in Nigeria, and a lot of its past leaders had suffered great pains and losses, with many paying the ultimate price for democracy; hence, they felt a sense of entitlement to endorse and recommend Com. Onjeh for Mr. President’s kind consideration as a cabinet Minister.
NANS further noted that Onjeh was one of the vociferous youth voices that spoke up against the annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential election. According to the organization, Com. Onjeh, who served as its President between 2002 and 2003; and President of the West African Students Union (WASU) in 2006, was the only former student leader that mobilized massively against the third term bid of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
“Onjeh used the platform of WASU to mobilize students massively across the 15 West African countries, shutting down Nigerian embassies and foreign missions within the sub-region in opposition to Obasanjo’s third term bid,” stated NANS.
In addition to Onjeh’s antecedents in the pro-democracy and human rights crusades, NANS stated that he was eminently qualified in terms of his educational background and work experience to be appointed a Minister. The group said Onjeh holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics and Political Science from the University of Ghana, Legon; and had worked with the private sector before his appointed by former President Muhammadu Buhari in 2018 as Chairman of the Governing Board of the Projects Development Institute, (PRODA), Enugu.
NANS added that Onjeh was a foundation member of the APC, having joined the party from the defunct ACN, and was one of the formidable pillars of the APC in Benue State, especially in Benue South. The group added that Onjeh contested for the House of Representatives in 2011 on the platform of the ACN, and was the APC’s 2015 Senatorial Candidate for Benue South that went on a re-run election against the former President of the Senate, Sen. David Mark. Onjeh, stated NANS in the letter, was equally the APC 2023 Senatorial Candidate for Benue South.
NANS expressed the view that President Tinubu and Com. Onjeh were similar individuals in terms of their progressivism, love for democracy and defense of human rights. “In addition, Onjeh is an unapologetic supporter of Your Excellency, whose loyalty to your political cause is absolute. Therefore, by appointing him as a Minister in your cabinet, you can rest assured that he will give his very best to ensure the success of your administration,” stated NANS.