…say he’s rallying point for region
…express gratitude to Tinubu for placing Ndigbo on top position in govt
…as Deputy Speaker urges unity among members, pledges intervention to end insecurity
Leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Abia State on Wednesday pleaded with the deputy of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Benjamin Okezie Kalu to take over the leadership of the party in the state and the south east at large.
The leaders who made the plea when they paid a courtesy call on the deputy speaker said that as the highest political office holder in the south east, Kalu was their rallying point to the presidency.
They reasoned that it naturally follows that Kalu who they said had exceptional leadership acumen, likening him to the Biblical David, automatically assumes the leadership of the party to unite the members.
Led by a former Senator, Chief Chris Adighije who represented Abia Central in the Senate, the leaders added with Kalu’s position, the south east could no longer cry of marginalization.
Among the APC leaders were Senator Nkechi Nwogu who also represented Abia Central in the Senate; former minister of Labour and Productivity, Chief Emeka Nwogu; former minister of Science and Technology, Chief Henry Ikoh; pioneer leader of APC in Abia, Chief Sam Nkire; former Speaker of Abia State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Stanley Ohajuruka; former Speaker of the State Assembly, Chief Martins Azubuike; former member of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Sam Onuigbo; former member of the State Assembly, Dr. Blessing Nwagba; the National PENCOM Commissioner from south east, Chief Anyim Nyerere and amongst others.
Speaking on their behalf, Adighije also expressed gratitude to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu for giving the zone a sense of belonging in the nation’s political hierarchy.
He said: “I have come in total support of Abia leaders of thoughts in APC across the entire state. We have come with a heart full of joy to congratulate our special son. For me to get out of my place at my age to come and see my son, my special son with age difference of about 40 years, it means right from home, we are proud of you. I want to recall your first day in House of Reps in June 2019, you didn’t quite settle down and you moved a motion. You didn’t spend 5 minutes and you moved a moved a motion and two weeks later you became a Chairman of a committee.
“You have already been created for greatness and above all, this greatness has come to you because you are a child of God. We were waiting patiently for the main party structure to come. But we the elders, custodians, people who have the interest of this party decided to come now. These are the the elders and the stakeholders and people who want the survival of our party. We are here.
“We are here to pledge our support because you are now hold a position of responsibility and trust. Charity begins at home. So, whatever that has happened in Abia, we are here to ask you to quickly do the needful. So that, Abia, all of us will come together.
“We are all here to plead with you and we know you are a man of action to build bridges across the lines in Abia and indeed, south east. So that Abia State and indeed the rest of south east will take what is rightfully their own.
“We cannot talk about marginalization anymore with you as deputy speaker because you are a goal-getter. Very soon, ministers from the south east will emerge. Please, put everybody together so that we develop a very strong party in Abia so that in the next election, we will be the number one. That is a task I believe you can do.
“There will be no fractionalization. Everybody must come together. Please, consult widely with the ministers, with people who have positions and with all of us even right at home, build a stronger party in the entire south east.
“We believe as soon as the ministers come on board, we are looking forward to call a summit meeting of all of you so that we can plan the way forward for APC in the south east, along with the governors. This is our prayer. But of course, don’t forget that charity begins at one in all this 5 issues, Abia must come first. Abia must take it’s rightful position.
“You see your friends here. Make sure they are properly positioned for APC to become the leading party in the south east. We don’t want the other parties anymore
“I give this responsibility because I know you. You are brilliant, you are dynamic, honest and humble. Don’t delay. It’s a sense of urgency for us to build a strong party and make the south east, APC strong hold.”
Also speaking, Senator Nkechi Nwogu pleaded with Kalu to come over to the State and help them unite the members.
She said that other political parties were waiting for them to take the lead.
“Your emergence is a big honour to Abia State judging from where we are coming from. It is the Hand of God on you. We are here to felicitate with you for what the Lord has done for us through you, giving us a voice now in echelon of national assembly and in the government of the day. At least, we have somebody we can approach without being asked to go back to where you are coming from. If you see what is happening is in Abia State which I think you do, the other parties are looking up to us to warehouse them. And they will join us to fortify the APC in south east beginning with Abia State. We look up to you and other leaders to come to Mesopotamia and help APC, Abia State to build a party we can be proud of”, she said.
Similarly, Chief Sam Nkire also said the call to duty was such Kalu must answer.
“You have no excuse not to answer this call. The call of keeping Abia strong. We should have taken over the state especially in the last election. It didn’t happen. We have heard 8 years of being in a ruling party. As you do for Nigeria, please, do also for Abia State. You don’t have any baggage that I can see. If you don’t do it now, it will be too late”, he said.
On his part, Chief Emeka Nwogu said God has prepared Kalu for leadership.
“You didn’t ask for leadership but we are bestowing leadership upon you. Take the first. Today marks a political watershed in the history of APC in Abia. You came at the right time when we have difficulties. You are a unifier. In a state where you do not have a serving, the highest political office holder becomes the leader. You have traits of leadership. You are a man born to be a leader but in this new political vista in Abia, please, be more conciliatory, bring in everybody on board, people who will revive APC in Abia. God prepared you.
Lending his voice, the former speaker of Abia House, Rt. Hon. Stanley Ohajuru said the leadership was not by age.
“I am here to affirm your leadership of APC in Abia and also in the South East. We are so glad that we have someone like you. It’s not by age. You are our own leader as far politics is concerned. We in Abia, as we embark on this political renaissance in Abia, this new political trajectory that is going to bring us a new political dawn that will transverse not only Abia but the entire south east. We want to make you proud so that at the end of the day, Nigeria will not regret ever giving you that position”, he said.
Responding to the clarion call, the deputy Speaker, Kalu urged the leaders to emulate President Bola Ahmed Tinubu whose leadership style has produced more national leaders.
Kalu said that despite several challenges the president may have faced with his mentees, they still remained together.
He therefore urged members of the ruling party and indeed, Igbo leaders in the south east to unite as one and pursue their common destiny against all odds.
Kalu who also underscored the need to defeat insecurity in the south east said that he would accept the responsibility of assuming the leadership of APC in the the State on the condition that the leaders will not turn their back on him later.
He said: “These are men and women of capacity that the state and nation needs. I’m most delighted to have you here. The realization that we are all in this together, whether it’s in success or failure. There’s an Igbo adage which says “Onye ahala nwanne ya”. We can’t achieve any major milestone as a people without being together.
“Our nemesis has always come when we believe we could be lone rangers. It doesn’t work. You will agree with me that it has never worked. The difference between our leadership and that of people from other jurisdictions, we find it difficult to stick together for a longtime.
“That’s what differentiates us from others who are playing politics in other jurisdictions. I’m sure you’re not in doubt, if you are in doubt, check president Tinubu’s team yesterday and today and tell me who has changed. Is it Femi Gbajabiamila, Fashola, I can go on and on, they know what it means to stay together for a long period.
“Does it mean that all of them are saints in politics? Does it mean that nobody is offended in the course of politicking? The answer is no. The wisdom that has guided them to achieve what they are achieving today is the same wisdom that made them understand that a house that’s divided itself cannot stand and that progress is found in unity.
“But if you do a comparative analysis, to check his contemporaries, I’m talking about the president of the country, it will be easy for you to spot the difference immediately. Like they said here, “use your tongue to count your teeth”. But things are about to change.
“Nobody here knows who the sun will shine on tomorrow. So, in this wisdom when you are lucky to have it shine on one of your own, treasure its pleasure and maximize it. It might be your turn tomorrow.
“And we should rally around you. You have done well by coming today to rally around this sun that’s shining now. It will make it brighter and stronger.
“We must therefore continue to push and together we shall overcome. Please push for more unity. I like the way you spoke. Go into reconciliation, open the windows and doors, let’s embrace people, that’s the spirit of togetherness, spirit of democracy. With this mindset, I guarantee you, we will achieve a lot soon.
“Like the leaders said, this call is an urgent call, some of you seniors who have been in the parliament, there are what we refer to as matters of national public importance, once it comes everything will wait. It must be attended first before other businesses of the day. And I consider this as one of such. As you rally around me, very soon our sister Hon. Nkeiruka Onyejeocha will also be fully crowned. Please rally round her. So, that through synergy, we pull our resources together to grow the party. It is in such atmosphere that I will like to operate. This leadership that you have fully given me, I’m grateful. I am accepting this leadership only on the condition that you will not abandon me. I am accepting it on the grounds that we will do it together. Today, you want me to lead not to rule, I promise to lead with you by my side”, he said.
Kalu also expressed his gratitude to Tinubu for running an inclusive government that had given the south east a sense of belonging, appreciating the role of the former speaker of the House, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila in his emergence as the deputy speaker of the 10th House.
“Let me not forget to thank the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, our party leader, who knew the southeast has never had any position among the high ranking leaders of the country for 8 years, even though the southeast did not give him the greatest votes that will make him give us what we are asking for.
“He was magnanimous enough in victory to consider south East as a region that needed to be part of the leaders of this country. I also want to thank my mentor in the parliament. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila without him I will not be sitting on this seat today. There were so many reasons for me not to be on this seat but like his own mentor, Asiwaju defended him whenever they came to attack him in his absence. Gbajabiamila defended, that he was looking for a man that has capacity and content and character out of the southeast, and he saw one in Benjamin okezie Kalu. And I thank my constituents for believing in me and elected me to be back here. If they didn’t vote for me from Bende federal constituency, the nation will not see that there’s a diamond hidden underneath the earth”, he said.
The highlights of the meeting were the decoration of Kalu in an Igbo traditional attire, a presentation of gift of bible and machete which the stakeholders said symbolized strength.