Contrary to speculations in some quarters that the National Working Committee (NWC) of the All Progressives Congress (APC), after wide consultations with President Muhammadu Buhari and other stakeholders of the party, has formally endorsed Senator Ovie Omo-Agege as the party’s candidate for the position of Deputy Senate President in the 9th National Assembly, a leading contender in the race and senator-elect for Abia North, Dr. Orji Kalu, has debunked insinuations. He also denied withdrawing from the contest.
The National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Lanre Onilu, had on Monday morning issued a statement that the National Working Committee had formally adopted Senator Omo-Agege as the party’s candidate for the position of Deputy Senate President. Reacting to this, Kalu, who had some days ago met President Buhari, said the president only adopted the candidacies of the duo of Senator Ahmed Lawan and Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila for the positions of Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives, respectively, while noting that anyone was free to contest for other principal positions.
In a statement issued by his media office on Monday and signed by Ken Cole, the former governor stressed that as a staunch supporter of President Buhari and a loyal member of the APC, he would always abide by the decisions of the president and highly respected members of the National Working Committee (NWC).
He, however, said the speculation of the formal endorsement of Omo-Agege was the handiwork of selfish elements in the party who were self-serving and desperate to cause disharmony among party stakeholders.
Kalu said: “Ahead of tomorrow’s inauguration of the 9th National Assembly and the election of principal officers, politicians have started deploying different antics to satisfy their ambitions.
“One of such is a statement credited to the National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Mallam Lanre Onilu, claiming that President Muhammadu Buhari and the NWC of the party had formally adopted Senator Ovie Omo-Agege as the party’s candidate for the position of Deputy Senate President.
“I hold the president in high esteem as well as the National Chairman of our great party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole and other members of the NWC and as such, I will not disobey any formal pronouncement by them. However, I am still in the race to become Deputy Senate President because the president and the NWC have not adopted any candidate and as such the contest is open to all members of the party, who have the capability.
“I have the political dexterity, leadership qualities, and goodwill to complement the efforts of the senate president in actualising the objectives of the legislature in support the efforts of President Muhammadu Buhari in taking Nigeria to greater heights.
“Leadership positions in the 9th Senate should be given to people who have the will to support the agenda of the APC while not deviating from the ideals of democracy.
“As I continue to mobilise support for the position of deputy senate president, I commend the president, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole and other stakeholders of the party for their support.
“Come tomorrow, by the special grace of God and to the admiration of APC members and Nigerians at large, I will emerge as deputy senate president in the 9th National Assembly.”
Kalu, while appealing to the leadership of the APC to give a level-playing ground to all contenders for the position of the deputy senate president, who are APC members, maintained that he was still in the race, except otherwise advised by the president or the party’s highest decision-making body.