The 10th senate presidency: The prognoses favour senator Orji Uzor Kalu7 min read
By Ojo Emmanuel ADEMOLA
The Nigerian democratic system of Government runs on three (3) balancing arms of Executive, Legislative and Judiciary tripod, each one offering interwoven and complementary statutory duties in the diverse and pluralistic entities that Nigeria is. And lately, the presidency equation has been effectively settled with the affirmation of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu (BAT) of the All Progressives Congress (APC), a South-Westerner, as the president-elect of the Country by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). The APC had earlier at its party primary in Abuja zoned the presidency to the Southern protectorate of the Country, and the Vice-Presidential ticket to the North East zone following a rotational spirit of its moral, equity, fairness and justice of their Constitution. It’s time for the winning party to source for suitable leadership to man its Legislative arm, considering critical parameters of zonal balancing, equity, justice and fairness. Our prognosis application in this intellectual exercise (that is: the emergence of the candidate from the right zone of the country; prerequisite qualifications and experience of such candidate; exemplary leadership qualities of his/hers; his/her political pedigree and achievements; resourcefulness and pragmatism, etc) favours *Senator Orji Uzor Kalu (OUK)*, representing the Abia North Senatorial District of Abia State under the platform of APC, to emerge the President of Senate of the 10th National Assembly, among other prospective contenders.
Generally, the nucleus of the prognoses stems mostly from the viewpoint of the need to maintain the balance of political power, and ensure a sense of inclusion among the ethnic groups in the Country. Oozing from the political barometer of Nigeria’s temperature, the stakeholders from the five (5) States of South East zone have been obviously in a state of flux, anxiety, despondency, annihilation, neglect and the purported claim of unfair treatment over equitable power sharing in the Country, and their concerns need to be addressed to enhance democratic growth. The incoming administration of Asiwaju BAT, against the need to correct the perceived anomalies in the marginalisation of ethnic entities in the polity, it’s apt to streamline the power-zoning of the critical positions of the ruling party to address injustice, unfairness and inequality. And in consideration of this proposition, the South East zone, like the other afflicted ones, deserves the slot of the Senate President as a compensation balancing trophy. Once the Eastern-necessity propositions are imbibed by the cross sections of political players (North and South), the search for the most qualified, experienced, resourceful, devoted and committed team player from the zone becomes easier to accomplish. It’s within this context that the candidature of Senator Orji Uzor Kalu for the Senate Presidency is x-rayed and positioned. Permit me to accentuate that ethnoreligious bigotry has no room or stake in a working democracy. As I have been penning so far, the pendulum of deepening our democracy at this time that we now have a full-blooded democrat as the president-elect must always favour progressive governance, in such a way that strategy and implementation must meet together to prevail in every choice that includes electing the Principal Officers of the Country’s legislative arm.
Weighting the variable in support of the most qualified and best possible choice for the coveted position of Senate President of the coming dispensation, distinguished Senator Kalu stands taller above others as the most qualified of his peers. I consider the balancing equation of appropriateness and weight of probability in arriving at this premise. The current senate’s whip and senator-elect Kalu’s progression from current Senate Chief Whip make it logical as the 4th highest ranking Senator from the South East and has served as a two-term tenure Executive Governor of Abia State from May 29, 1999, to May 29, 2007 (the same period that the president-elect served at the State level) gives him the added advantage to appreciate the dynamism involved in leading a vibrant and complimentary National Assembly. A seasoned private sector guru, it is equally important to take into account his successful first term as the Senate Chief Whip of the 9th National Assembly, which earned him the respect of his peers, most notably the Senate President, Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan, who considered him “the most influential Chief Whip in the history of the Nigerian Senate”. Hence, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu is most definitely the most qualified in balancing the political equation of appropriateness and the best possible choice in a time like this so to accentuate.
Achieving success of tasks before an assemblage of distinguished legislators with varied idiosyncrasies dwells more on the character of exemplary leadership which must have been acquired throughout service. Throughout his political career, Senator Kalu has led by example, articulated his vision (and realised it), demonstrated integrity, made hard decisions, communicated effectively with his fellow lawmakers, empowered his subordinates and constituents, and been a source of inspiration and motivation for those around him as attested to variously. He has also displayed tremendous leadership and has always backed up his words with action. Senator Orji Uzor Kalu’s achievements in public office over the years speak volumes and his unwavering commitment to good governance and a better Nigeria is irrefutable. These are attributes that would ensure his success in this role.
Political Pedigree is yet another major determinant variable for consideration in pitching a tent over a sensitive position of a would-be Senate President. The position requires a personality with demonstrable political sagacity, capable of navigating the rough waters of Nigerian sociopolitical and cultural diversities. As mentioned earlier, there aren’t many politicians and public office holders with the pedigree and vast array of accomplishments of Senator Orji Uzor Kalu in this regard. The position of the 10th Senate President requires a politician with considerable experience in governance and lawmaking. All of these qualities he possesses in spades along with the fundamental tools to thrive in the role.
Coupled with senatorial experience, distinguished Senator Kalu has made giant strides in the legislative practice to affirm his first-among-equal status for the position of Senate President. During his first Senatorial term which began on June 11, 2019, he remarkably sponsored 51 bills and 28 motions, making him The highest-rated among lawmakers from Abia state. Similarly one of the best performing and most highly regarded Senators in the country. As a further step towards crowning his senatorial gains, the foremost aspirant for the Senate president position has ensured the democratic dividends in his District by way of infrastructural development. Senator Kalu’s immense contribution to the infrastructural development of his Senatorial district, Abia North during his first four years in office, cannot be invalidated. He has undertaken several projects in that region such as the construction of roads, and the renovation of schools and hospitals. Other projects include the installation of street lights, sinking boreholes, supply of equipment to local farmers, and processing machines for local farm produce. The aspiring Senator continues to empower people in his constituency, particularly the youth, and remains committed to more developmental projects in his second term.
Leadership comes with its concomitant price of being courageous, bold, and reliable at the critical time of reckoning. These qualities are most obvious through his unwavering support for Tinubu’s campaign immediately the APC declared Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu the party’s Presidential Candidate for the 2023 Elections. Senator Orji Uzor Kalu has been the most prominent and consistent voice of support for Tinubu, especially in the South East. This support has been even in the face of public scrutiny, ridicule, and backlash from the media, and opposition from rival parties as well as within his party. Rather than buckle under immense pressure, he remained brave and steadfast in backing the now President-elect. It’s a pay-back time in my view and considering the terms of Asiwaju machinery’s support for Kalu’s ambition. And understanding the leadership personality of BAT, Senator Kalu can be assured of being an ally of the president-elect, remembering that the president-elect is a great mind in whatsoever he decides to do.
Aside from the earlier variables of prognoses listed, a contender for the exulted position of the Senate President (like the President of the Nation) must necessarily come to the field with nationalist and detribalized credentials. Senator Orji Uzor Kalu is known for his detribalized mindset. His name has a high degree of National appeal from all geopolitical zones and he has repeatedly displayed a willingness to work with all Nigerians. And being the nationalist, he would also prove most beneficial in stabilizing and unifying all Senators regardless of their respective ethnic backgrounds, states/regions of origin, and party differences.
Just like the president-elect, being resourceful and pragmatic are sine-qua-non to holding forth the realms of affairs at the Senate, and by purposes and intents, the aspirant possesses the qualities. Orji Uzor Kalu is the chairman of SLOK Holding, a successful business endeavour. Pragmatism and resourcefulness qualities are among his greatest strengths. He is a man with the Midas touch, a captain of industry who has investments in many areas including the media – he owns the Sun and the Telegraph newspapers. I dare say that a tested and trusted vessel like OUK fits the bill for a presumably marginalized geographic zone of our vibrant compatriots from the eastern front. Similarly, his experience in the private sector will help sustain a workable national development plan for Nigeria.
Conclusively, the prognoses consider strongly, among other variables, a cerebral personality who can play the balancing act in a delicate political environment like Nigeria at this critical time, and found in Senator Kalu a ready-made tool needed to deepen democratic experimentation as Senate President for the convocation of the 10th National Assembly. For certainty, Kalu is amendable, dependable, reliable, and dogmatic to work in the national interest and not to rock the boat of governance for the Asiwaju Tinubu/Shettima Administration.
Prof. Ojo Emmanuel ADEMOLA is a distinguished and foremost strategic political analyst and a global Cyber Security technocrat