Former Governor of Abia State and senator- elect, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, has declared his intention to contest the post of Deputy President of the Senate.
Speaking with aviation reporters early Wednesday at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos on his way to Brussels, Belgium, Kalu said he opted for the position in respect to the decision of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to zone the Senate presidency to the North East.
How prepared are you to get the party allow you vie for the position of the President of the Senate when we learnt it’s not been zoned to the South East?
Well, I am a very loyal party member. The party has zoned the position of the President of the Senate to the North East and I am bound to respect the party’s will. Therefore, the second position, which is the Deputy President of the Senate, is what we are not going to allow the party to decide. Therefore, I am going to run for that position because the party is supreme .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 President of the Senate. I am not going to listen to the party; neither will I listen to anybody. Nobody who is going to be the Deputy President of the Senate is more loyal than I am to the party. I have suffered for the party, and I want the party to respect the will of every other person.
So as far as my desire is concerned, we are going to be seeing votes on the floor of the Senate for that position. Section 50 of the constitution has made it very clear that the members of the National Assembly shall elect their leadership and I am going to use that section of the constitution to vie for that position. I learnt they have ceded the Deputy President of the Senate to the North West, but it is not right to do anything like that. We are going to contest this vehemently on the floor of the house. And I have the backing of my colleagues. So, whether they already gave it to an individual, that is left for the party at the National Assembly to decide. But for the Deputy President of the Senate, I will contest with any candidate on the floor of the house.
Have you communicated this to the party?
I just told you that the party is supreme. I know that our Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole is a listening Chairman and President Muhammadu Buhari is a man of justice. So, if justice must prevail, the right thing should be done. You give the President of the Senate to the North East and then Deputy President of the Senate to the South East and that’s very fair. And I am sure you know that the APC chairman is from the South South, the president of Nigeria is from the North West, the Vice President is from South West, and they have decided that the President of the Senate will come from the North East, whether it’s Lawal or Ndume, the senators will decide that one on the floor of the Senate. So, for me, Nigeria is like a tripod; comprising Igbo, Yoruba and Hausa. So, it will be unfair not to have a South East in that tripod; we are going to get the Deputy President of the Senate. I will fight on the floor of the Senate for it like no other person has fought. This is not like challenging the party; rather, this is looking for equity and justice.
Buhari said he will be addressing issues of injustice in the country. This is part of the issues of injustice. You cannot tell us in the South East to go and be Chief Whip. I don’t have a whip to whip anybody. You don’t build loyalty to a section of people or individuals. I am loyal to the people; I am loyal to Nigeria, which is important. But I am not going to be loyal to individuals. I am a Catholic and I believe there is need for a co-existence between the different ethnic and religious people in the country. So, when I say I want to be Deputy President of the Senate, I don’t imply that I want to be a Deputy President of the Senate for some people. I am not going to be Deputy President of the Senate for anybody. Otherwise, if they don’t listen to my plea, I will also join others and contest for the President of the Senate on the floor of the Senate. I will join the race because I already know that it is going to be like a shopping matter. And 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. If the party continues this way, I will run for the position of the President of Senate.
Why are you really disturbed about Principal Officers’ position for the South East?
Positions are part of representations for the people. What I am saying is that if we have the DSP given to the South East, it gives a sense of belonging to everybody in Nigeria. But, I am not saying I am representing a section of people in Nigeria. Now consider this: If they go to for meeting to discuss Nigeria, you have the President, Vice President, Senate President and Deputy Senate President, and in all these positions you don’t have anybody to represent the South East, then that is unfair and that is what I am saying.
I am not a tribalist, but someone who is fair. I want justice. So, if the party doesn’t want a crack, they should zone its positions properly through the geo-political zones of the country. No one should be left out. A zone who has taken the presidency is not supposed to take the Deputy President of the Senate as well. Rest assured, we are not going to quarrel, but we will sort it out. We are not going to vote for PDP members as in 2015 Senate, you should rest assured of that. We are going to vote for APC members for Senate President and Deputy Senate President. I have friends everywhere. It will be a shopping matter. I have over 56 Senators on my radar who have already signed for me for either Senate President or Deputy Senate President. And these are people who believe in equity. I have been in the legislature before so I have the experience. I have been a two term governor and that comes with a whole lot of experience. Senator Godswill Akpabio became minority leader as a first term Senator. So it’s not a question of ‘oh I am going there for the first time.’
Are you not worried with the winner-takes-all statement of APC Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole?
This 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 is who in the system because in a presidential system of government, there is a room for lobbying and I am going to lobby. I am not contradicting Adams; he’s my very close friend. I am only saying we must be able to do give and take.
But Nkeiruka Onyejeocha is also vying for Speaker from the South East, what’s your take?
Yes, it is her constitutional right to vie for that position. Nobody should stop her. It’s her constitutional right.
The economy seems not to be doing very well, are you not disturbed?
I am a private sector man. You can say I have succeeded in politics, just like I have succeeded in business. I want to assure you that my mission to the Senate will involve bringing stakeholders on board and they will talk on how to promulgate new laws that will be favourable to the business community and I will lobby the president to sign them into law. The downturn in the economy is not only affecting Nigeria, but everyone. I am going to put everything in place to ensure the economy grows. I have the capacity of lobbying and capacity of moving around to make the economy work. It will take the collective decision of Nigerians to get the economy back.