SENATE chief whip Senator Orji Uzor Kalu has told Nigeria’s 40m Igbos that they cannot get the presidential ticket of any party in the country under the current open contest arrangement we have today and need a arrangement conceding the office to the southeast.
Next year, Nigeria goes to the polls and already the battle for the presidency has heated up with both the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) set to have primaries this month. Senator Kalu himself was a presidential candidate but recently stood down for senate president Senator Ahmad Lawan.
Although not constitutional, Nigeria’s component parts have a gentleman’s agreement that the presidency will rotate between the north and the south of the country. President Muhammadu Buhari’s tenure will end in 2023 and being a Fulani northern Muslim, it is expected that the next president will come from southern Nigeria.
Since the return to democracy in 1999, the southwest has produced President Olusegun Obasanjo and the south-south President Goodluck Jonathan, so come 2023, the presidency should automatically go to the southeast. However Senator Kalu, an Igbo man from the southeast himself, has said they will get the presidential tickets of either of the two main parties for now.
In a response to elder statesman Chief Edwin Clark, Senator Kalu, revealed this while explaining his reasons for openly supporting the Senator Ahmad Lawan. Senator Kalu said he had great respect for Chief Clark who is an elder statesman and a patriotic Nigerian.
Senator Kalu said: “I want to sincerely commend him for openly supporting the southeast geo-political zone to produce the next president of Nigeria. It is imperative I remind him that I didn’t betray my people, rather I am doing my best to reintegrate them into mainstream politics.
“Over the last two years, I have been at the forefront agitating for a Nigerian president of southeast extraction, when most of them were all saying southern presidency. Coming to this late hour to support the southeast is rather suspicious to me if they couldn’t do it two years ago.
“The truth is, Chief Edwin Clark, knows the southeast cannot get the ticket of any party in an open contest as it is today without a gentleman agreement to concede it to the southeast. It is rather surprising to me that Chief Edwin Clark didn’t call the majority of other southerners including governors working against the southeast to order, or the names he called me.”
Also, Senator Kalu explained that a number of the members of the PDP were secretly supporting a candidate from the northeast so that the southeast might produce the next president in eight years instead of waiting for 16 years.