President of the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, Alhaji Shettima Yerima, has appealed to Nigerians, especially Northern leaders not to abandon the Senate Chief Whip, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, to his fate.
He cited his contributions to the growth of the country, saying that
if the South would not seek a solution to Kalu’s travails, the North would not abandon him.
Speaking with newsmen in Abuja, the youth leader said Kalu’s ordeal has political undertone, alleging that it’s about 2023 elections.
Yerima explained that the former governor’s glorious outing in the last general election and his perceived closeness to President Muhammadu Buhari and those around him sent cold shivers to the camp of those positioning themselves to contest the 2023 election both within the APC and outside the party.
He said: “they see Orji Kalu as a potential threat based on the political permutation of the possibility of the Presidency going to the South East in 2023 and they feel the best is to seize the opportunity to stop him.
“You know we don’t support the presidency leaving the North at this time and we still stand on that ground, but that’s not what I want to address today.
“We are aware that some persons especially those within APC never believed Orji Kalu will succeed in winning the senatorial election. In fact, they created so many obstacles to prevent him from getting the party’s ticket and when he eventually succeeded, they conspired and mobilised forces against him winning the election proper but they are not Allah who decides; so he won the election landslide. Yet they went after him again through the electoral tribunal but because Allah has destined him to be in the Senate, he triumphed at the Appeal tribunal again. Yet this enemies re-strategised and again came after him through this long standing case and turned the table. We know all the story”
Yerima stated that in as much as he is not holding brief for former Governor Orji Kalu, he must always speak the truth because it is only the truth that can stand the test of time .
He said: “I will always stand and speak the truth at all times no matter what the situation is because it is only the truth that can set us free. We told Kalu when he joined APC that these people will frustrate him. Ask him and he will confirm to you that we warned him. I told him that he will regret joining the party but he insisted he cannot be in a different party against the President who have been his long standing family friend; he insisted that he wanted to work for the re-election of the president. We witnessed his huge contribution towards the re-election of the President even when people from the South East called him names.
“ I must tell you that Kalu is one of the few people from the South East that understands this country very well. He knows Nigeria more than many other politicians from Southern Nigeria and he has remained steadfast till today. But how are they paying him back? Conspiring to put him away, to destroy him in the name of politics?
“This is why I said in my last interface with you that we the North must not abandon him (Orji Kalu) at this his time of trouble. We all know the truth. Abandoning him at this time will definitely send the wrong signal to the rest of the country about the North. Everybody knows Orji Kalu and his relationship with the North and the Northerners; it’s not hidden and it didn’t start today. He is popular in the North as he is in the South and therefore the North cannot afford to keep silence while he suffers for nothing. He is a great partner in the One Nigeria Project; a patriotic citizen of this great country who has created lots of jobs for Nigerians before venturing into politics and we should not watch and allow him being rubbished by some selfish individuals who think its their right to become president. It is even more painful to know that some of those after him are persons he has done big favours some time in the past because we are aware of his outreach.”
Speaking further, Yerima stated: “Everybody is aware the state of APC in the South East before Orji Kalu joined the party. In 2015, APC could not win even a single senatorial sit from the South East; Rochas Okorocha was the only person in the region with electoral position; but in 2019, the region embraced and came alive for the APC because of the efforts of same Kalu . Why would the party allow a man who made such impact for them to be slaughtered by over-ambitious individuals within the party?
“He holds traditional titles from almost all parts of Nigeria. In fact, after MKO Abiola (of the blessed memory), I don’t think there is anybody that holds more recognition than Kalu across Nigeria. He has received titles from every corner of the country and this shows that he is a bridge builder. You must have noticed that each time there is a conflict involving the North and the South, Kalu always intervene; Why? Because he believes in One Nigeria. He believes in the peace and unity of this country; he loves Nigeria and the people .
“If Orji Kalu is a criminal, do you think these Northern traditional rulers would have recognized him as their own by bestowing their revered titles on him? Of course not. Though we are not the court of Law, the truth is like an open wound and the truth will always set us free.
“I am even surprised why the Ohanaeze Youths are keeping quiet and watching as their bests are being destroyed. Why have they all of a sudden kept quiet? Have they lost their voice suddenly? Where are the Igbo traditional leaders? Why are they keeping their mouth shut? What are they afraid of? You see, that is why I always said the South East is not yet ready to produce a Nigeria President. Yes! and I stand by that; they have not shown any seriousness, any hunger that would make the other parts of the country relinquish power to them. If they keep quiet when their own is being destroyed, then by 2023 who would they come to the table with? I therefore challenge the Ohanaeze Youths, I challenge the traditional rulers and the political class to show how serious they are. Yes, I have friends from the region and I tell them the same thing, that they are not ready and serious for 2023; when they are serious, we the North will know”
“Allowing Orji Kalu suffer in jail will give credence to those after him. Kalu is a friend of the North. If the South does nothing for him, we from the North will stand with him against his enemies, against those working to destroy him because of politics. The North must not allow that to happen to him.”
Concluding, the Arewa Youth Leader called on the North to intervene in the former governor’s ordeal. “Posterity will judge us the North according to how we respond to this illustrious son of Nigeria. We from the North cannot pretend that we don’t know why he is facing this trial and present ordeals. We can’t pretend he is not our own when the whole world knows his long standing relationships with our people. Orji Kalu is more than our brother not only by virtue of his traditional titles from the North or his friendship with many of us but also because he started early in life with us in the North. He has never betrayed the North and the North cannot afford to betray him at this time; we must stand by him and show him Love”
“At the appropriate time, we shall name those involved in this conspiracy against this peace-loving former governor. Yes, we shall name those behind this because they are the real enemies of Nigeria. We just don’t want to undermine the court process as an institution but believe me very soon, the public will know who they are. Nothing is hidden under the sun for too long,” he said .