- By Kolajo S. Abiola
Orji Uzor Kalu is the Senator representing Abia North Senatorial District. He is the current Chief Whip of the Senate (4th highest-ranking Senator). He served as the Executive Governor of Abia State from 29 May 1999 to 29 May 2007. He also plays a significant role in the private sector.
Why Zoning the Senate President to South East is the right thing to do
With the 10th National Assembly beginning to take formation, the conversation surrounding the next Senate President is beginning to intensify.
Our vibrant compatriots from the five States of the South East region of Nigeria are clearly in a state of despondency, feeling shortchanged. This is noticeable during the recent electioneering campaigns and thereafter. Furthermore, the major reaction to the emergence of the winner of the 2023 Presidential election is a very clear message from our brothers and sisters of the eastern extraction in particular. Unsurprisingly, the acrimony and bad blood generated by reasons of perceived marginalization need serious attention.
One can recognize an ally and a friend in times of hardship and our beloved country Nigeria is going through a very difficult time. It is thus, imperative that the issue of Nigeria’s political dilemma be moved to the front burner given the significance of the issue at stake.
In view of the above, banking on the political sagacity of the President-elect, Asíwájú Bola Ahmed Tinubu from the South-West and the firm support of the Vice-President-elect, Sen Kashim Shettima from the North-East, it would only feel right for the 10th National Assembly Senate Presidency to be zoned to the South East for the sake of equity, fairness, and justice, thus maintaining the balance of power and a sense of inclusion.
Most importantly, it is time to heal the wounds and nothing must take us back to the pre-civil war era again as a nation. Hence there is a need for “Awalokan” equity value to be extended to the Igbo nation.
Why OUK fits the Bill of the 10th Senate President?
There are several reasons why the recently re-elected Senator from Abia North is without question, the man for the job taking cognizance of the demand for equity, fairness, and justice in the Nigeria polity particularly now. The most important are enumerated and explained below:
1. Most Qualified and Best Possible Choice
Distinguished Senator Orji Uzor Kalu would be the most qualified as his progression from current Senate Chief Whip would only feel logical and he also stands head and shoulders above all other Senators from the SE. 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 and best possible choice.
2. Exemplary Leadership Qualities
Throughout his political career, he has led by example, articulated his vision (and realized 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. 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.
3. Political Pedigree
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. 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.
4. Senatorial Experience
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.
5. District Development
Senator Orji Uzor 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. Senator Orji Uzor Kalu continues to empower people in his constituency, particularly the youth and remains committed to more developmental projects in his second term.
6. Courageous, Bold, and Reliable
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 Aspirant 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 own party. Rather than buckle under immense pressure, he remained brave and steadfast in backing the now President-elect.
7. Nationalist and Detribalized
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.
8. Senate Unification
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.
9. Resourceful and Pragmatic
Orji Uzor Kalu is the chairman of SLOK Holding, a successful business endeavor. 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 daresay 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.
To conclude, we live in an ethnically diverse country, and relations in recent years have been tense. An incoming government has to reflect the interest of all ethnic groups and has to be seen to be doing so.
For the reasons mentioned above, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu’s appointment as the 10th Senate President will be a significant step in the right direction to show not only the inclusion of all Nigerians in the governance of their country but also give everyone a sense of belonging.