Ahead of the 2023 General elections, Chief Whip of the 9th Senate, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu has disclosed that political disposition of the Igbos from the South-East extraction has evolved from what it used to be, adding that the South-east region can no longer be manipulated in making their political decisions.
Occasioned by the non willingness of the South-West and South-South geopolitical zones to support the zoning of the presidential ticket to the South-East, Kalu asserted that the majority of South-easterners would throw their weight behind the retention of power in the North by backing the North-East to produce next President.
Kalu stated this on Monday during an exclusive interview on Channels Television programme, ‘Politics Today’, said his understanding of the power shift to the Southern part of the country was that all regions in the South-South, South-West and South-East would allow the latter to produce the country’s next president.
The former Governor emphasised that the majority of South-easterners will queue behind the North-East for Presidency if they are denied support.
He stated that the South East had in the past supported South West to produce former President Olusegun Obasanjo and the incumbent Vice President Yemi Osinbajo as well as supported the South South to produce former President Goodluck Jonathan, insisting that it’s time for both zones to support South East.
The Senate Chief Whip also explained why he is throwing his weight behind the 2023 presidential bid of the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan who is also from the North East geopolitical zone.
He said: “We agreed that it is the turn of the South-East to produce the president. Later we started seeing candidates from other zones – South-West and South-South.
“I know the two zones that have not produced the country’s president are South-East and North-East. I know I don’t have the number but I have other things to win the election.
“Does equity mean excluding the South-east? If Governor Akeredolu wants to talk about Equity, he should mention the South-east; anything less than that is not equity, it can go back to the North.
“Yes we agree that power should come to the South but they don’t want the power to come to the South-east, so why should I allow them ( South West/ South-South) to take it when they have produced Presidents before? We are only wiser today, we are wise people, we are no longer the ‘mumu’ they used to cheat , we are now very wiser. It’s no longer business as usual, we have a game plan and we shall unfold it .
“If you can’t give it to us , we don’t care where it comes from , what I’m telling you is the position of the majority of Igbos, some might disagree but most that understand politics know this. Because you can’t expect us to continue voting for you and you refuse to vote for us , “if we vote for you then you vote for us.
Speaking on the Political orientation of the Igbos from the South-East, Kalu maintained they’ll no longer be misled , saying that the Igbos will henceforth vote according to mutual benefits.
“What you will see in 2023 is the new Igbo thinking and the new Igbo thinking will be based on give and take. If you give me , I give you and if you don’t give me I won’t give you.
“Any southerner that is not from the South East and is coming to run for president is a ‘betrayer’. They are the ones betraying us so they should find sincerity in their mind to vote for us too.
“We have supported South West. We supported President Obasanjo, we supported Vice President Osinbajo, we supported Vice President Jonathan for five years and we supported President Jonathan for six years. Why can’t they support us?” he asked.
While defending his decision to step down from his presidential race, he reiterated that the position ought to be zoned to the South East, vowing to reactivate his aspiration if the Presidency is zoned to the South-east. Kalu however said that Nigeria needs strong leadership and he believes that Lawan is the one that can give the country such.
“I have known him 41 years ago,” the Senator said. “We were roommates at the university. He is strong enough to give the Nigerian people what they are looking for.”
“If we have to do anything rational, Ahmed Lawal will have my vote because he is from the North-East. Anything except South-East, it should go back to the North. We are wiser now. This is the position of most Igbos. If they vote it back to the South-East, I’ll reactivate my aspiration
As far as he is concerned the Senate President played a vital role in stabilizing the Nigerian parliament. He said several bills have been passed by the lawmakers under Lawan’s leadership, a development Kalu said will be replicated at the Presidential level if Lawan wins.
According to the former governor, Lawan’s presidential ambition is gathering steam with some candidates ready to step down for the Senate President.
“I want to tell you, I have spoken to nine candidates running for president, and they are ready, already in talks to step down for Ahmed Lawan,” the lawmaker added.