Former Abia State Governor and Senator-elect, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu on Friday said he remains the most qualified candidate for the position of Deputy Senate President. In this interview with LOUIS IBAH, he pledged to work with the Executive arm of government to resuscitate the economy if given the opportunity.
Kalu who spoke with aviation correspondents at the domestic terminal of the Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA2) Lagos, also commended President Muhammadu Buhari for wading into the tussle for the Senate Presidency seat by persuading Senator Danjuma Goje to step down for Senator Ahmed Lawan.
You are one of the Senators that have declared to vie for the position of Deputy Senate President; are you still interested in the position?
Yes, and I am not only re-stating it; I am saying that it is the most Godly thing to do because I am ready to do that job (Deputy Senate President) to help both the Senate in law-making and to help the executive arm of government to bring the right stimulus that would boost the Nigerian economy and create jobs for citizens. What is wrong in my personal bid? I am a Nigerian. Those that are bidding for that post, are they more capable than I am? So, we need to also be looking at candidates that have capacity to do the work and I have capacity to do the work. I have employed over 9000 people directly and indirectly. I have capacity of managing human beings and the Senate is about human management. I am interested in the economy improving because if we get the economy working rightly, the insecurity we are witnessing will go. I think a hungry man is an angry man. And I have the capacity to change lives. So, the important thing is capacity, capacity to make lives better for people, capacity to help President Buhari achieve the economic goal, capacity to work with the National Adviser on Economy and work with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) because the economy is not doing totally well. We need to put it on track.
In fact, there are some things we need to put where it is supposed to be and the economy will have stimulus. That is why I say my agenda is economy; to help the President and help the National Assembly realise their economic targets.
Do you foresee the 9th Senate working harmoniously with the executive?
The most important component of the workings of the Senate is the Nigerian people and once we protect the Nigerian people, the second component will be the Executive, to work harmoniously with them. So, you are going to have a Senate that works with the Executive, but mind you, we are not going to be rubber stamp. We are going to do what is just for the Nigerian people; we are going to do what should be just for the executive and what should be just for the legislature. So, it is about fairness and equity. We are not going to say, because President Buhari is of APC, or he is our friend, and we say everything he brings to the Senate is okay. No, we have to ask questions, clarifications and all the rest of them and be able to protect the Nigerian people whose votes took us to the National Assembly. The eighth Senate has closed down and I congratulate them because it is not easy to end up being alive.
What are your views on the decision of President Buhari to wade into the tussle for the Senate Presidency position and his reported persuasion of Sen. Danjuma Goje to step down for Sen Lawan?
For the first time, I will tell the Nigerian Press this. You know I have known Sen. Lawan for over 40 years. Lawan was my roommate in the University. We lived in the same room at the University of Maiduguri. So, he is qualified for the job. This is why I consistently tell people I support his candidature. Goje (Danjuma Goje) was my colleague when we were governors and I am not against him. Ali Ndume is also like my brother; in fact, a very good brother of mine and I am not against him. But I am just saying that Sen Lawan has been endorsed by all segments of the party and also by even others who are not members of our party.
When I said last week that we have 58 Senators with Lawan, people thought it was a joke. It wasn’t a joke, that was excluding PDP. Now we have 21 PDP Senators that have already signed up for Lawan as of last week. Now, Goje is no longer running. So, we have 21 PDP Senators and you add it to 58. In fact, when we had 58 APC, we kept it in the cooler. So, this is the issue. We are ready and we don’t want a fight. We have fought so much and we want one Senate, one party. After all, what is really different in the Senate? The difference between this party and that party is the people. I was in PDP; I was PDP governor for eight years. I was also an NRC member of the House of Representatives for two years. So, all these things are colourations of names. I was in NRC with Kwankwaso as Deputy Speaker. I was in the PDP with almost all the people that are there today, and I was with Kwankwaso the other day and now, he is in PDP. So, these are merely matters of the vehicles that bring us to the Senate. The vehicles that bring us to the place might be different, but the destination we are heading to is the same. So, we must be able to work for the Nigerian people.
We only make laws, we don’t execute those laws. So, what Nigerians should expect from us are robust laws that would serve the interest of Nigerians, that is what they are going to expect. Vibrant laws without fear or favour. We will put the country first, we would be able to see means and manners we would be able to tackle the insecurity.
How do you feel about the crisis rocking the APC with the incumbent Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole openly quarelling with his predecessor, John Odigie-Oyegun?
In Democracy, we must not all agree. And that is why it is a democracy. Democracy is a collection of all opinions. But we have called on Mr. President, the way he settled the Goje matter, to also be able to call the two of them and settle the issue. If the President occasionally intervenes on this kind of issues, we would not be having problems. In PDP, there are bigger problems, but their leaders intervene and settle these matters. But the President will tell you, ‘I don’t want to play politics’, but he is the Chief politician. Even when I talk to him, he will say, “Orji, you know I am not a politician’. I will say, ‘But you are our chief’. The President and Commander-in-Chief of Nigeria is the Chief of all politicians. So, I think the President has started changing his mind to be intervening in cases like that. I am sure we will sort out Oyegun/Oshiomhole’s problem by next week. Because one, they are from Edo State and you know my first daughter is married in Edo. So we are going to settle the matter; I am sure Mr. President is doing something to settle the matter.