By Akinwande Soji-Ojo
Senate Chief Whip, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, has explained that the reason he is supporting the presidenial bid of the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, was because the South East cannot get the ticket of any political party in an open contest as it is today without a gentleman agreement to concede it to the zone.
Kalu, in a statement he personally signed him and shared on his Facebook page, said this in response to elder statesman, Edwin Clark.
Clark had cricised Kalu for openly supporting Lawan, saying the former Abia State Governor betrayed his people.
But Kalu said he had great respect for Clark, who he described as an elder statesman and a patriotic Nigerian.
“I want to sincerely commend him for openly supporting the South East geopolitical zone to produce the next President of Nigeria.
“It is imperative I remind him that I didn’t betray my people, rather I am doing my best to reintegrate them into mainstream politics.
“In the last two years, I have been at the forefront agitating for a Nigerian President of South East extraction, when most of them were all saying “Southern Presidency,” he said.
The former government added that he was shocked when none of the political actors openly said the South East geopolitical zone should have the presidency.
“I was shocked that even the zone the entire South East supported in unity including myself in 2011 and 2015 respectively, has the highest number of contestants without thinking of their brothers, knowing fully well that the South East zone has remained the only zone in Southern Nigeria that has not produced the nation’s president since the rotation convention dispensation that began in 1999.
“Coming to this late hour to support the South East is rather suspicious to me if they couldn’t do it two years ago. The truth is, Chief Edwin Clark, knows the South East cannot get the ticket of any party in an open contest as it is today without a gentleman agreement to concede it to the South-East,” the former governor said.
He explained that a number of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) were secretly supporting a candidate from the North East so that the South East might produce the next president in eight years instead of waiting for 16 years.
“It is rather surprising to me that Chief Edwin Clark didn’t call the majority of other Southerners including governors working against the South East to order or the names he called me.
“What did you say or do when all the aspirants from South South and SouthWest were buying forms to run against South Easterners who have always supported them.
“I know some people want us to keep quiet and then allow other Southerners to take the turn of South East. If you meant well for the South-East, you could have discouraged other aspirants from running for President. Nothing stops the South from supporting only presidential aspirants from the South East. The betrayers are those who don’t care about the SouthEast. We are wiser,” Kalu noted.