The Chief Whip of the Nigeria Senate, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu has alleged that most presidential aspirants from the Southern part of the country are merely queuing behind a North-Easterner to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari in 2023.
The former Abia State Governor also refuted the allegations leveled against him by Niger Delta leader, Chief Edwin Clark that he betrayed the South-East in their quest to produce Nigeria’s next president in 2023.
It would be recalled that Kalu announced his withdrawal from the presidential race, electing to settle for the Senate and throwing his weight behind the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan for the presidency.
Reacting to the allegation by Clark, in a statement he personally signed on Thursday, Kalu said that he had in the last two years clamoured for a president of Igbo extraction, asking where others who now accused him of betrayal were at the time.
The former governor, while professing a huge respect for Clark, said that given the current political realities, it appeared not feasible for the southeast to make it in 2023.
Kalu, who said he had expected the political leaders in the entire Southern Nigeria to throw their weight behind the South-East region in the contest since it was the only zone that was left out, said he was rather shocked seeing an avalanche of southerners purchasing nomination forms of their parties and throwing their hat in the ring for the contest instead of supporting the South-East.
Revealing that many southerners in the south were queuing behind a North-Easterner to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari next year, Kalu told Clark that “we are wiser”.
The statement read in full: “I have great respect for Chief Edwin Clark; he is an elderstatesman and a patriotic Nigerian. I want to sincerely commend him for openly supporting the South-East 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.
“In the last two years, I have been at the forefront agitating for a Nigerian President of South-East extraction when most of them were all saying “Southern Presidency”. None of these actors openly said the South-East geo-political zone should have it. I was shocked that even the zone the entire South-East supported in unity including myself in 2011 and 2015 respectively, has the highest number of contestants without thinking of their brothers, knowing fully well that the South East zone has remained the only zone in Southern Nigeria that has not produced the nation’s president since the rotation dispensation that began in 1999.
“Coming to this late hour to support the South East is rather suspicious to me if they couldn’t do it two years ago. The truth is, Chief Edwin Clark knows the South-East cannot get the ticket of any party in an open contest as it is today without a gentleman agreement to concede it to the South-East.”
“If all the aspirants from the South-West and South-South cannot support their brothers from the South-East, It is only politically correct to support the North-East geo-political zone, which to me is the shortest route for the South-East geo-political zone to produce the president after their 8 years instead of waiting for another 16 years.
“It is rather surprising to me that Chief Edwin Clark didn’t call the majority of other Southerners including governors working against the South-East to order or the names he called me.
“What did you say or do when all the aspirants from South South and South West were buying forms to run against South Easterners who have always supported them.
“I know some people want us to keep quiet and then allow other Southerners take turn of South East. If you meant well for the South East, you could have discouraged other aspirants against running for President. Nothing stops the South supporting only presidential aspirants from the South East. The betrayers are those who don’t care about South East. We are wiser.
“Let me also inform the elderstatesman that majority of the Southerners in his party (PDP) are secretly supporting a Northeasterner to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari.
“The welfare of my people is a passion that is driving me, I am not doing anything to advance my personal interest or seek personal glorification. I also lost my businesses fighting for the political interest of the Igbos. I cannot betray them now if I didn’t do it yesterday.”