A former Governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor Kalu, has taken a swipe at presidential aspirants from the North, South-West and the South-South, describing them as selfish and greedy.
He expressed his reservations on Monday while featuring on Politics Today, a current affairs programme on Channels Television.
He also criticised former President Olusegun Obasanjo and an elder statesman, leader of the Pan Niger Delta Forum, Chief Edwin Clark, for failing to push for an Igbo president.
Kalu said since there were indications that aspirants from the South-East were not favoured in the presidential race, he would rather support the ambition of the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, who is from Yobe State in the North-East, a geopolitical zone that had also not produced a president in the North.
“Chief Clark is an elder statesman; I don’t want to talk about him. But if Chief Clark were of a good conscience, he would not be welcoming presidential candidates in his house from the South-South and South-West. He could have told them that it was the turn of the South-East. I have been saying this for two to three years that a president of Igbo extraction will solve the problem.”
Kalu pointed out that if they wanted the next President to come from the South-East, they could have urged aspirants from other zones not to obtain forms. “And if there were nobody from the South-West and the South-South buying forms, they (North) would be scared that others (Southerners zones) would support us,” he added.
“If I were President Buhari today, where we are, I would raise Lawan’s hand because we have stabilised the parliament for him. He should be very grateful to the 9th (National) Assembly. We went through a recession, and we have made laws that helped come out of recession.”
Speaking of other presidential aspirants in the APC, Kalu said a former Governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, was his colleague. While Tinubu might have the political strength, he said, “We have passed those stages.”
“If they have a conscience, they will not run. But they have no conscience. Obasanjo was President for eight years, (Prof Yemi) Osinbajo was (will be) Vice-President for eight years, but south-easterners have never got a president for one year. How would you sleep if you were in my position? The gods of the land are asking questions in Igboland. Where are these people? They are asking, ‘Why will these people come again?’
When asked about his response to the gods, the lawmaker said, “The answer is that they are greedy. They should stop being greedy. And that is what is killing Nigeria.”
Kalu is a jester, he shouldn’t be taken seriously – Pro Tinubu group
But the Director of Public Relations, Tinubu Support organisation, Ekiti State, Abiodun Alonge, said Kalu was a jester, who should not be taken seriously.
“Kalu demonstrated greed when governor in Abia State; he corruptly enriched himself. He is a jester that should not be taken seriously. He is a ministerial aspirant, not a presidential material. He should go and settle with his fellow Igbo people who have been marginalised for reasons best known to the powers.
“In relation to Tinubu’s presidential ambition, politicians may be greedy, but Tinubu is not a greedy politician. If he were greedy, he would not have released the vice presidential slot to Prof Yemi Osinbajo; if he were greedy, he would have been hobnobbing with the President for contracts; if he were greedy, he would have been traversing the length and breadth of Nigeria begging tor contracts from APC governors and ministers,” Alonge said.
Ex-Abia gov playing ostrich – Osinbajo group
Reacting, the Coordinator of the Progressive Lawyers for Osinbajo, Kayode Ajulo, said Kalu should look at the man in the mirror before accusing anyone else.
Ajulo, in a telephone interview with one of our correspondents on Monday, said, “We know the likes of Kalu. He talks about presidential aspirants from the South-West being greedy, whereas who is he campaigning for? By their fruit, we shall know them. That is the basic thing we should know.
“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.
“The issue on the ground is that of law and morality. Are we going to go for someone with experience for the past seven years or bring someone with no experience? Nigerians deserve something better. Not that Kalu is unaware of that, but he is playing the ostrich, trying to hide his head under the sand, and we see his body. Nigeria deserves the best; nobody needs to use Nigeria as an experiment to learn the job.”
Kalu wants presidential slot freely given – Pro- Fayemi group
A chieftain of the Kayode Fayemi Campaign Organisation, Dauda Lawal, had said Kalu was expecting that the APC presidential ticket should be freely given to the South-East without contest, and said that power was never freely given.
“I don’t really know what he meant by greedy politicians. That is his own terminology anyway, it is a political jargon from him and it is his own opinion about it.
“Nobody is stopping anybody from contesting or running. The party has made provision for a convention for the presidential primaries. Anybody that emerges is the candidate. What Kalu is trying to say is that the slot should be freely given to the South East as a kind of gift by saying no other area apart from the South East should contest.
“You don’t freely give power to anybody, power is something you fight for, you labour for, you strategise for and you work for it. Kalu is not speaking for the South East but for himself, Lawal said.