The senator-elect for Abia North and current chief whip of the Senate, Orji Uzor Kalu, has waxed biblical over alleged attempts to assassinate his character in a bid to stop him from emerging as Nigeria’s next Senate President.
With the emergence of Bola Ahmed Tinubu from the South West as president-elect and Kashim Shettima from the North-East as vice president-elect, it is expected that the South-East or South-South geopolitical zone will produce the president of the 10th Senate.
In view of this, two ranking politicians from the South-East and members of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) are being tipped as likely occupant of the office of the number three citizen.
They are Orji Kalu, a serving senator from Abia State, and Governor Dave Umahi who recently won election as the Senator to represent Ebonyi South Senatorial District in the 10th Senate.
But in an unexpected move on Wednesday, a faction of the apex Igbo socio-political organization in the South East, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, rejected Kalu’s candidacy.
Ohanaeze appealed to the APC to not present any Igbo Senator with corruption cases with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to avoid casting the ethnic group in bad light.
Ohanaeze was apparently referring to Orji Kalu’s N7.65 billion fraud case with the EFCC, which led to his conviction by the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court in 2019 before the Supreme Court eventually declared it null and void on the grounds that the trial was wrongly conducted. In 2020, the apex court ordered Kalu to be released from prison and a retrial of the case.
Ohanaeze, in a statement signed by Secretary General of the faction, Okechukwu Isiguzoro, warned that electing a Senate President with corruption baggage may negatively affect Tinubu’s administration.
The faction subsequently declared support for Umahi, basing its reason on his “proven commitment to one Nigeria, infrastructure and human development, Igbo interest and need to galvanise support for our long sought chance to have one of us stride to presidency in the near future…”
But reacting on Thursday, Kalu said fellow senators-elect interested in the Senate President position must not malign the character of others to achieve their aims.
“By June 13, the National Assembly would be electing a new leadership to spearhead the affairs of the10th Senate,” Kalu said in a statement released via his Facebook page.
“As the race continues to gain the attention of all Nigerians, I implore my dear colleagues who have interest in the Presidency of the senate to focus more on the difference they can make rather than exerting energy on blackmails.
“To progress and succeed as a nation, we must shun hatred, lies and propaganda. People are telling lies against my person; using my name for gossip buying and selling. Because of position, people have embarked on high level and low level character assassination and defamation of Orji Uzor Kalu.
“We should always remember God’s authority in our lives. We should remember that the life we live is not for ourselves alone but for God and to then accommodate other people. We should remember that any wealth, power, or strength we have originated from God. Any gift or talent we have – the same is true (James 1:17; 1 Corinthians 12:1-11). Even our ability to give generously comes from God (Deuteronomy 8:18; 2 Corinthians 9:10-11). Everything we have, and everything else that exists, is all His. When we know and embrace this, we would be better people with better minds.”