Former governor of Abia State, Chief Orji Uzor Kalu has said that there is need to elect an Igbo man as president in 2015 if the country must make progress, just as he dispelled insinuation that he scuttled Dr. Alex Ekwueme’s presidential ambition in 1999. Kalu, who is the founder of Njiko Igbo, a socio-political group committed to advancing the Igbo interest in the country, stated this yesterday while speaking as guest on “Platform”, a Radio Nigeria political programme. He said the need for a president of Igbo extraction had become imperative because apart from the South-East, all other sections of the country had opportunity of producing a president.
Consequently, Kalu said in the interest of equity and fair play, other parts should allow an Igbo man to emerge as president in 2015, pointing out that as at today, the Igbos were the most populous ethnic group in the country. His words: “I am not even canvassing for Nigerian president. I am saying that an Igbo man should be president in 2015. It matters where the president comes from because all segments of the society had been president. People continue letting Ndigbo down because they think we were defeated during the war, which is not true.
And until an Igbo man rules this country, the country will not move anywhere.” Speaking on Njiko Igbo, the former governor explained that the socio-political group was geared towards mobilising all Igbo sons and daughters to champion the cause of Ndigbo. He said the group was neither tied to any political party nor out to displace other existing platforms in the South-East. According to him, “we are not trying to do the job of Ohanaeze. We are not trying to do the job of Aka Ikenga. We are not trying to do the job of Igbo Congress or any other Igbo platform. The Njiko Igbo is totally socio-political.
It is purely an avenue to get back all political parties that are Igbo-based and see if they can become one platform to win an election any day and any time. Those organisations are socio-cultural. We are socio-political. We don’t hide it. Njiko Igbo cannot put anybody on any platform to run for election because it is not a political party. We want to get all political players to see if they can agree together.” He expressed optimism that the organisation would be able to get 65-70 percent of Ndigbo to agree on the Igbo project.
Speaking on the role he played in the emergence of former president Olusegun Obasanjo as the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 1999, Kalu said he told Ekwueme in 1998 that the military had zeroed in on Obasanjo as the next president. He said he had alerted the former vice president to this, so that he could negotiate with the military, especially as Obasanjo had already made some commitments to the North. The former governor said instead of Ekwueme’s group appreciating him for his suggestions, he was called an “apostle of doom” and asked out of the house for speaking the truth.
“I told Ekwueme in his house in 1998 that the military had made up their mind on President Obasanjo. I told him this in his house to enable him talk to the military. I heard from a reliable source that the military had made up their mind to give the presidency to the West to pacify them for June 12. I explained all these to him. Instead of appreciating what I said, they sent me out for speaking the truth. I never scuttled anybody’s political wellbeing. I only spoke the truth to them even before the convention.
I told them to go to the military and negotiate because Obasanjo had gone and made promises. I told him that if he didn’t do that, it meant he was not ready for leadership. I told him ‘this is where this people are going and unless you go and negotiate with them, it would be disastrous’. They said I was an apostle of doom and I left the house.” On the ongoing review of the 1999 Constitution, he called for the creation of at least an additional state for the South-East.
However, he stated that in a situation where the National Assembly would want to create states in other geo-political zones, then the South-East should get more than one state to bring it at par with other zones. Furthermore, Kalu said the constitution should be amended to make for only one legislative house at the federal level. He also canvassed that the legislature should be a part time job. He said it did not make sense to use 25 percent of the budget in servicing the federal legislature, especially when there were serious developmental challenges confronting the country.