Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
Ahead of the June 11 inauguration of the 9th session of the National Assembly, former Ministers of Labour and Productivity, Science and Technology, Foreign Affairs and Education (State) as well as Trade, Investment and Industry, Dr Chris Ngige, Chief Ogbonnaya Onu, Mr. Geoffrey Onyema, Prof. Anthony Anwuka and Mr. Okechukwu Enelamah respectively met on Friday, behind closed doors with the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Comrade Adams Oshiomhole in a bid to cede the position of Deputy Senate President to the South East.
According to a reliable source at the APC national secretariat, the former Ministers, who arrived at 2.05pm on Friday, were immediately ushered into the office of the National Chairman. Confirming the development, the source stated that the South East is likely to produce the Deputy Senate President in the interest of fairness, justice, and equity.
The source, who also confirmed that the meeting, which was held in the National Chairman’s office, lasted 45 minutes, stressed that the All Progressives Congress (APC) is desperately making moves to appease Ndigbo ahead of 2023.
He said: “As the inauguration of the 9th assembly draws nearer, the APC leadership is leaving no stone unturned in order to protect its members and Nigerians at large.
“The national chairman of the APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole has met with former Ministers of the last administration, who are also from the South East. Their deliberations were not unconnected to the marginalization of the South East in national positions.
“Hence, the APC may eventually zone the position of Deputy Senate President and ultimately settle for Dr. Orji Kalu, who is the Senator-elect for Abia North Senatorial district. The South East is a major component of Nigeria and as such should not be denied of its stake in national polity. For the sake of national unity, all geographical zones will be given equal opportunities at all levels of government”
In the same vein, Enugu and Imo State Governors, Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi and Hon. Emeka Ihedioha have thrown their weight behind the candidacy of Dr. Orji Kalu for the position of the deputy senate president in the soon-to-be inaugurated 9th National Assembly. While extolling the virtues of Kalu, the governors noted that the collective interest of Nigerians should be placed above selfish ambitions. They called on the members of the yet-to-be inaugurated National Assembly to bury party differences for national progress, adding that the political class must live up to expectations.
The governors, who declared their support for Kalu as Deputy Senate President, urged the Senator-elect, Abia North senatorial district, to sustain his patriotic strides across the country.
Earlier, the duo of former Senate President and former Governor of Enugu state, Chief Ken Nnamani and Chief Chimaroke Nnamani respectively had called for support for Dr. Kalu’s ambition for the position of Deputy Senate President. The two politicians, while describing Kalu as a good choice for the position, called on Ndigbo to support the Abia state born politician in his quest to clinch the seat of the deputy senate president.
Also rooting for Kalu are some Emirs in the North. Confirming the development, a close ally of a respected Emir in the North West, stressed that the choice of Kalu is borne out of the former governor’s goodwill across the board. He noted that Kalu, though a Catholic and Igbo by origin, has a close relationship with people of other tribes. The former governor, who is said to be reaching out to political associates, friends and leaders of the APC, has promised to bring to bear his political and business acumen in the national assembly if he is given the opportunity to serve as deputy senate president.
In the same vein, a pan Nigeria group, National Alliance For Equity and Justice, yesterday, charged the All Progressives Congress (APC), senators-elect and other stakeholders to support the former governor of Abia State, Dr Orji Uzor Kalu to emerge as the Deputy Senate President, in the interest of equity and fair play.
The group in a statement jointly signed by Mazi Chukwuemeka Nwosu, Hon Akinola Akinyemi and Alhaji Hassan Jubril said electing Kalu, who is the senator-elect for Abia North, as Deputy Senate President will reflect balance and federal character in the distribution of principal officers in the Ninth Assembly. It noted that the former Abia governor has worked hard to popularise the APC in the South east since he joined the party, as well as for the success of President Muhammadu Buhari in the 2019 presidential poll.
According to the group, electing Kalu as Deputy Senate President, will go a long way to entrench the ruling party in the South East geopolitical zone, ahead of the 2023 polls, as the former commands a large followership within and outside the zone. Besides, it noted that Kalu as Deputy Senate President will add value to the National Assembly and the Buhari administration.
“Uzor-Kalu is a detribalised Nigerian leader, a fact reflected in the number of friends he has across Nigeria and beyond, the different chieftaincy titles he was found worthy to be bestowed upon across the four corners of Nigeria.
“He is patriotic, outspoken and a goal getter with experience and capacity to engender consensus among contending interests. “Apart from his successful foray into politics, Uzor Kalu is also an astute businessman and publisher who have contributed to national economic development in various ways. We believe that Uzor Kalu will make a good deputy senate president and will complement the distinguished Senator Ahmed Lawan as the Senate President.
“Uzor Kalu has demonstrated leadership whether you consider his forays in politics, business , philanthropy or youth empowerment and we are sure that his emergence as the senate president will be added value to the National Assembly and the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration,” the group stated.