* Says he has 56 Senators backing him
From Suleiman Idris, Lagos
The controversies surrounding the candidature of the President of the Nigeria Senate in the forth-coming ninth legislative assembly in the red chamber of the National Assembly appears to be getting messier as Senator-elect for Abia North Senatorial district, Mr. Orji Uzor Kalu yesterday declared that bearing any timely intervention of the All Progressives Congress’ top hierarchy and justice done to the South East region, he will join the race for the Senate Presidency and will win the contest and fight dirty.
Mr. Kalu, a two term former Governor of Abia State, stated that with the
perceived discriminatory zoning policy of the principal offices of the Senate by the APC, he has no choice but to fight for one of the position for his zone, affirming that any attempt to deny the South East the position or that of the Deputy Senate President will spell doom for the party.
The former Governor also said “I am not a tribalist, but someone who is fair. I want justice. If the party doesn’t want a crack, they should zone it properly through the geopolitical zones of the country. You have given North West the President, another section the Senate President, let the South East produce the Deputy Senate President.”
Will this not further lead to infightings, he replied “We are not going to quarrel, but we will sort it out. We are not going to vote PDP; you should be rest assured of that. We are going to vote for APC members for Senate President and Deputy Senate President. I have the capacity to shop on the floor of the house I just want you to underline that, in fact, if they disagree, I will run for the Senate President and the Senate President will be to the east. I have friends everywhere. It will be a shopping matter and l am capable of shopping.”
“I have over 56 Senators in my kitty for me for either SP or DSP that have already signed to what l believed in. They believe in equity.”
However, he said he remains loyal to the party and it decision on certain matters and positions, but affirmed that APC must be seen to be just and fair and equitably distribute the principal positions in the house in order to promote national unity.
He particularly reiterated that the South East will not concede the Deputy Senate President position to any other section of the country, irrespective of the position of the party.
He said “I am a very loyal party member, the party has zoned the Senate Presidency to the North East and I am bound to respect the party’s will and the second position is what we are not going to allow to leave the South East.”
According to him, “As far as I am concerned, in the South East, I am going to run openly on the floor of the house for the Deputy Senate President. I am not going to listen to the party; neither will I listen to anybody.
Nobody who is going to be the Deputy Senate President is more loyal than I am to the party. I have suffered for the party, I have been crossing the several roads across the country for the sake of the party and I want the party to respect the will of every other person and I am committed to democracy.”
The Senator elect told journalists at the Murtala Muhammad Airport in Lagos that the constitution permits anyone to vie for the position of their choice just as it also stipulated that members of the national assembly should elect leaders of their choice, hence he will take advantage of the law to contest.
“We are going to votes on the floor of the house because Section 50 of the constitution made it very clear that the members of the national assembly will elect their leaderships and I am going to use that section of the constitution to vie for the position.” Kalu added.
He condemned the apparent zoning formula employed by the ruling party without consideration for the South East adding that “I learnt they zone the DSP to the North West, but it is not right and it is impossible to do anything like that. We are going to contest this vehemently on the floor of the house. I have respect for the party and have the backing of my colleagues. I am going to be withdrawing from the senate presidency to run for DSP because the party is supreme.”
Whether they gave it to an individual that is left for the party at the national assembly to decide, but for the DSP, I will contest with any candidate on the floor of the house.”
Asked if he has made his position known to the APC leadership, he said “I just told you that party is supreme. I know our Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole is a listening Chairman and President Muhammadu Buhari is a man of justice. So, if justice must prevail, you bring the Senate President from the North East and DSP to the South East.
The chairman is from the South South, the President is from the North West, the Vice President is from South West, the President of Senate will come from the North East, whether it’s Lawal or Ndume, these people will decided that on the floor of the House. So, for me, Nigeria is tripod; Ibo, Yoruba and Hausa. So, we are going to get the DSP and I will fight on the floor of the House like no other person has fought. This is no challenging the party, rather, this is looking for justice.”
He described the contest as a shopping exercise that will involve every member of the upper legislative chamber, “Anybody can shop, it is going to be an open market for everybody on the floor of the house and l am capable of shopping, l will shop back the DSP back to the south. We are not going to leave it to the North West. I am not going to be loyal to individuals.
You don’t build loyalty to a section of people or individuals.”
On whether as a first term Senator, he can pull muscle with the house, he said “I am not a first time legislature in the house, l have been in the House between 1991 and 1993 and l have legislative experience also. I have been two term Governor of Abia state. So l know the nook and cranny of how legislators operates, l have death with them. I am not a new comer. So it is going to be impossible to edge me out or edge a whole zone out and say we are new comers, it is not possible.”
What is Kalu fighting for, he replied “What l am fighting for is justice and for the unity of the country. So l cannot use a position or the national assembly to divide the country. I have sweated for the unity of the country. All my investments are in the north, west and the south so we must protect the country and learn to live in peace.”
Doesn’t he think if the matter is not handle with care it will rob on the relationship between the executive and the national assemble dominated by APC, Kalu replied “As long as Buhari and Osinbajo remain the President and Vice President of Nigeria, we are going to be loyal to the party and most importantly loyal to the Nigeria people. Not because Buhari is the President but because l have known him for over 30 years and the Vice President for over two decades. I don’t see any reason why we can’t work together.”
“There is no any other person you are going to give this position that is closer to the people and loyal to the Nigeria people than me. I am not going to be pledge loyalty to a particular section of the country but to Nigerians as a whole. I am a Catholic and I believe there is a co-existence between the religious people.”
He explained that “I am not going to be DSP for anybody; otherwise, if they don’t handle it well, I will also contest for the Senate President on the floor of the House. I will join the race because it is going to be a shopping matter. I can shop than any other person they are putting there. I have the capacity and capability to shop because the whole thing will be shopping on the floor of the House. I am well known east, west and north.”
“So if the party continues this way, I will run for the SP. If justice is not done, to say South East brings the DSP. I will change my mind because the time is still long.”
Why is he disturbed about positions, he explained that “Positions are part of representations. I am saying if we have DSP, it gives a sense of belonging to everybody. I am not saying I am representing a section. If they go to a meeting of the highest level of the party, you have the President, VP, SP and DSP, but you don’t have anybody to represent the South east. That is unfair and that is what I am saying.”
Also, asked what is his take on the comments credited to the APC Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole that the APC will take all top positions in the house, he explained that “it is an opinion of the Chairman and the inner party caucus. It is only when we go to the floor of the House that we know who gets what because in the system because in a Presidential system of government, there is a room for lobbying and I am going to lobby.”
“ So if you want to lobby, you must concede some positions to the PDP. That is the truth. I am not contradicting Adams; he’s my very close friend. I am only saying we must be able to do give and take.”