Kalu denies dropping 2023 Presidential ambition, insists all regions must back South East candidacy


[From BONIFACE OKORO, Umuahia]

Chief Whip of the Senate, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, has denied dropping his ambition to run for the presidency, saying that he only advised the South West and South South aspirants to withdraw from the 2023 presidential contest and support the South East aspiration to produce the next president of the country for the sake of equity.

Senator Orji Kalu

Kalu, the Senator representing Abia North Senatorial Zone, made the clarification in his Camp Neya Country home in Igbere, Bende Local Government Area of Abia State while interacting with newsmen Tuesday evening, saying that some persons who read his recently published statement about equity misrepresented him.

Meanwhile, Senator Orji Kalu, the Senate’s Chief Whip, has criticised the presidential candidates from the South-West as well as South-South for the year 2023.

It would be recalled that Orji Kalu in a statement on Tuesday, April 26, said that it is wrong and insulting that aspirants from both the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), as well as, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have no respect or concern for the people of the South East.

Having a President from the South West or South-South, according to Orji Kalu, is equivalent to having one from the North, which is hypocritical and also indefensible.

The Senator, who maintained that he was still in the presidential race, was quoted across media platforms to have, in a statement, said that he may withdraw from the race if his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), did not expressly zone the presidential slot to the South East.

Rather, he said, he would seek re-election into the Senate to continue representing the Abia North Senatorial zone in the 10th Senate.

In the statement titled ‘The Fairness I Know,’ Kalu insisted that there was no fairness in zoning the APC presidential ticket to Southern Nigeria and not South East, which has never produced the president.

The statement read in part: “It is my desire and intention to run for the Presidency of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. I am committed to this pursuit, but I can’t make an official declaration to this regard without the full support of other regions.

 “Everywhere in the world, politics is situational and that of Nigeria is exceptionally situational.

“The situation in Nigeria is that without the support of other regions, it would amount to a shadow chase for a South Easterner to be President. This is the reason I have been in the frontline of the call that the two major political parties, the All Progressives Congress and the Peoples Democratic Party should zone their presidential tickets to the South East as they did for the South West in 1999.

“In the absence of this zoning, I shall return to the Senate and stay away from the presidential contest. The reality is that the North is more advantageous to win elections in this democratic setting.”

 With the media awash with the news that he has withdrawn from the presidential race, Kalu came out to clarify what he meant by his statement, said that the South West and South South must support the South East if they were talking of Equity.

 “My stand is very clear. I didn’t drop, I’ve never dropped and I didn’t drop. My advice was for our brothers from South-South and South-West to support us in the South East. They came out en masse to run for president which is not right because if there must be equity, the equity must be South-East.,” the Senator said.

The Abia former governor added: “I don’t want to see people from South-South and South-West talking about equity. President Jonathan was the Vice President for three years and President for six years; Obasanjo was president for eight years and Osinbajo will be Vice President for eight years soon.

“So, if there’s any name called equity and justice, it is South-East. Unless that equity is done to us, any other person can run for president including People from Daura.

“That’s the issue. If we want to talk about equity, every aspirant from South-South and South-West should drop and support us (South East). If not, what it means is that the ticket will be open for all Nigerians. This is my stand. I’ve never said I’m dropping for anybody.”