THE South-South leader, Chief Edwin Clark has accused former governor of Abia State and Senate Chief Whip, Orji Uzor Kalu for aligning with the North-East in the race to produce the president in 2023.
Kalu reportedly stated that the North East was like the South East as states that have not produced the president as he decided to support the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan in his 2023 presidential ambition.
In a statement in Abuja, Clark, as the Leader of Pan Niger Delta Forum, (PANDEF) and leader of Southern and Middle Belt Leaders’ Forum (SMBLF), said that “Kalu is insincere and dishonest,” and was just another Igbo man out to betray his geopolitical zone.
The elder statesman said that Kalu should let his ambition be made or sterner stuff for Nigeria to survive as a united country, and as equal citizenship.
In a statement, “Senator Orji Uzor Kalu is the betrayal of his Ethnicity,” Clark stated, “Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, one of the oldest vocal frontline politicians in South East, who had earlier given the impression that he will die for the Igbo cause despite his attitude, but I doubted his sincerity and transparency. I first heard of Kalu many years ago, when he was an active student of the University of Maiduguri, in the North East. I met him in person for the first time in Amassoma, the hometown of the late first civilian governor of Bayelsa State, Chief DSP Alamieyeseigha, when Kalu, as Governor.
“He drove around the known river in a luxury riverboat on a sea side. We had pleasant discussions. I found in him a patriotic, courageous Nigerian who singularly attacked former president, Olusegun Obasanjo on his corrupt practices, and stood by his charges when Obasanjo threatened him with EFCC. Since then, we became very good friends, and he used to visit me in my house in Abuja.
“Sometimes, he honored me with interviews as proprietor of the Sun newspapers. Orji Kalu was convicted by the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court on Thursday 5, December 2019 and sentenced to 12 years in prison for #7.65 billion fraud.
He was convicted for defrauding the Abia Government through his company SLOK Nigeria Limited. On Friday, 8 May 2020, the Supreme Court of Nigeria ruled that his trial was wrongly conducted and released him from prison while ordering a retrial of the case out of Court.
“Today, the criminal charges of corruption for which EFCC charged him in Lagos High Court are still hanging on his head, even though, he got a temporary discharge by the Supreme Court judgement on his co-accused. Even though, Kalu, was not a party to that Supreme Court judgement, the discharge of his co-accused also affected him. Kalu, shamelessly ran back to the Senate after spending about six months in prison to assume a position as the Chief Whip, because we are in the country where anything can happen.
“Recently, Kalu announced that he will drop his presidential ambition if the seat was not zoned to the South East. He even went to the extent of floating an organization known as Njiko Igbo Movement, whose purpose is to help secure the presidential seat for a Nigerian citizen of Igbo extraction because an Igbo has only held the position of a Head of State for six months since our flag independence.
The senator launched the organization joined by a former senator, Emmanuel Onwe, human rights advocate and lawyer, based in United Kingdom.
“Unexpectedly, the same Kalu, did not only drop his ambition to contest the election, but also declared his support for Lawan, based on uninformed reasons that only South East and North East have not produced civilian Head of State
He had said in the Sun newspaper of Tuesday, May 10, 2022: “In the absence of a South easterner being president of Nigeria in 2023, I have my full support for a North easterner. This is because it would be the closest to the equity, fairness and justice everyone is talking about. It further means that the justice is on its way to the South East.”
Clark noted: “This most dishonest and shameless statement from a senator shows clearly that this is another Igbo man, who is out to betray his people simply for selfish reasons. The APC and the PDP have not officially decided against zoning of the presidency to the South. Why is Kalu jumping the gun, if he has no ulterior motive.
“There are many Igbo who are in the presidential race, particularly, in his party, the APC, that are willing to receive the support of their brother, Kalu, but he is insincere and dishonest.
“Why is he supporting a presidential aspirant from the North East against his fellow Igbo men?
“It is a blatant lie and fraudulent for Kalu to say that the North East is the nearest to the South East for states that have not produced the Head of State or the President. As a senator, I expected him to know that Alhaji Tafawa Balewa, who was the Prime Minister of Nigeria between 1957 and 1966, was from Bauchi State in the North East.
“In parliamentary government, which Nigeria was practicing until 1966, the Prime Minister was the Chief Executive of the Government and was equivalent to the Head of State or President from 1979. It is therefore not true that the North East has not presented or provided a Head of State or President.
“I call on the South East leaders to sanction any of their sons or daughters trying to betray them, otherwise, your case will be jeopardized from your home.
“Recently, the 17 state governors from the South, consisting of APC and PDP, met in Asaba, Delta State and Lagos, resolved that the next President in 2023 should come from the South in keeping with the agreed rotation for the Presidency between North and South.
“This decision, which cut across party lines gladdened the hearts of all patriotic Southerners. This resolution did not only conform with the conventional practice by the two major political parties. The PDP has actually provided for the rotation of the Presidency between the North and the South in its Constitution in 2009, and which was adopted by APC in 2014.
“In 2014, when the newly formed APC held its first primary in Lagos, the presidency was zoned to the North, and only northerners including President Muhammadu Buhari, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, from Adamawa State, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso of Kano State, and Nda Isah from Niger State contested the presidential primary. Rochas Okorocha participated in accordance with his usual ritual of participating in every election, and in this particular case, he scored no vote, because he was from the South.
“Both the northerner and Southern delegates rejected him.
“Similarly, in 2018, the PDP Constitution allowed only North to contest the Presidential election, and it is very shameful, fraudulent and disgraceful for eminent personalities like former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, former Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and Aminu Tambuwal, Governor of Sokoto State, for arrogantly breaching the Constitution of PDP, posing as if they are indispensable. Once again, I appeal to them to understand my feelings having regards to the role I played as the leader of Southern and Middle-belt Leaders Forum (SMBLF), leading to presidential primary in Port Harcourt, the most peaceful, fair and credible primary election, conducted by the Governor of Delta State, Arthur Ifeanyi Okowa, considered as one of the best names of the eminent candidates, who contested the primary are; former vice president, Abubakar, former governor of Kano State, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso; former presidents of Senate, David Mark and Bukola Saraki, governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal; former governor of Jigawa State, Sule Lamido; former governor of Plateau State, Jonah Jang; former governor of Kaduna State, Ahmed Makarfi; former Minister of Special Duties, Kabiru Tanimu Turaki (SAN); former governor of Gombe State, Ibrahim Dankwambo; former governor of Sokoto State, Attahiru Bafarawa, Datti Baba-Ahmed, all southerners cooperated with them in the primary and the presidential elections.
“The Southern and Middle-Belt Leaders Forum, campaigned for Atiku Abubakar throughout the election period at our expense. We did not receive any campaign money from the PDP and Atiku Abubakar. We threatened the government risking our lives even, during the trial in the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court, while Abubakar, was cooling off in far away Dubai.
“Please, let your ambition be made or sterner stuff for Nigeria to survive as a united country, and as equal citizenship.“