FORMER Abia State governor Senator Orji Uzor Kalu has taken a swipe at all of Nigeria’s current non-Igbo presidential aspirants describing them as selfish and greedy for trying to usurp a position that should be zoned to the southeast geo-political zone.
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, neither of Nigeria’s two main political parties has zoned the presidency to the southeast and candidates from all the other five geo-political zones are running for president.
Speaking on Politics Today, a current affairs programme on Channels Television, Senator Kalu, himself a former aspirant who recently withdrew from the race for senate president Senator Ahmad Lawan, also criticised former President Olusegun Obasanjo and Pan Niger Delta Forum leader Chief Edwin Clark, for failing to push for an Igbo president. He added that because of the lack of support for a southeast candidate, he decided to support Senator Lawan.
Senator Kalu said: “Chief Clark is an elder statesman and if he were of a good conscience, he would not be welcoming presidential candidates in his house from the south-south and southwest. He could have told them that it was the turn of the southeast. I have been saying this for two to three years that a president of Igbo extraction will solve the problem.
“If there were nobody from the southwest and the south-south buying forms, they in the north would be scared that others would support us. If I were President Buhari today, I would raise Lawan’s hand because we have stabilised the parliament for him.
“If they have a conscience, they will not run but they have no conscience. Obasanjo was president for eight years and Osinbajo was vice president for eight years but south-easterners have never got a president for one year.”
However, Abiodun Alonge, spokesman for the Tinubu Support Organisation in Ekiti State, said Senator Kalu was a jester, who should not be taken seriously. he described the former governor as a greedy man who enriched himself while in office and urged him to go and settle with his fellow Igbo people who have been marginalised for reasons best known to the powers-that-be.
Also, Kayode Ajulo, the coordinator of the Progressive Lawyers for Osinbajo, said Senator Kalu should look at the man in the mirror before accusing anyone else. He added: “This is someone that has picked the form and quickly left to start campaigning for his principal, the senate president Ahmad Lawan. We can see through him and that kind of person does not deserve a response.”
Dauda Lawal of the Kayode Fayemi Campaign Organisation said Senator Kalu was expecting that the All Progressives Congress presidential ticket to be freely given to the southeast without a contest. He added that power was never freely given as it is something you fight for, you labour for and you strategise for.