Firstly, I congratulate you on your victory in the 2019 Presidential election, it was a victory well deserved.
Secondly, it is my sincere wish and prayer that God will keep you strong and healthy to continue in your good works for the country.
Mr. President, it is obvious that the issue of the region that produces the Deputy Senate President of the 9th Senate has become a major point of discussion in Nigeria with today. The position of Senate Presidency seems to have been settled with the All Progressives Congress (APC) having made it abundantly clear that the position has been zoned to the North East Part of the country.
However, that of Deputy Senate Presidency seems not to have been settled. I am afraid of the rumour we are hearing around here that the All Progressives Congress (APC) is being reluctant to zone the position to the South East. My fear is borne out of the possibility of the apathy and/or unrest that may ensue should this rumour turn out to be true. It is said that the leadership of the party is not inclined to zoning the DSP to the South East on the basis of the fact the South East region did not produce any substantial vote for the APC in the just concluded elections. But in my view Mr. President, I feel it will be totally unjust to think along this line as an excuse to deny the South East what is rightly due them.
Mr. President, for those of us from the South East who are strongly in APC, we know the extent of the ridicule we face from our counterparts in the PDP. Despite this unfriendly disposition, it is very obvious that we have thrived here in South East, as every practical evidence shows that APC has made appreciable inroad here in the South East compared to what it was in 2015. Please do not look at the number of votes we are told APC got in the last election. It is clear to all that APC got far more than that; whatever was behind releasing such figure is a matter for another day.
Of note, the party recorded serious improvement in the 2019 elections compared to that of 2015. In Abia state for instance, APC got just a paltry 13,384 (3%) of the votes cast in 2015, while in 2019 the votes increased to 85,058 representing 29% of votes cast, and a 9 times increase on the 2015 performance. This is against a background of dominance by the PDP in the region with 3 sitting governors, over 10 senators and the Deputy Senate President. Thus South East APC needs to be encouraged, not otherwise and it is obvious that if South East APC gets the DSP this time, it will lead to an increased performance in subsequent elections.
Mr. President, it is not hidden that most people around here wrongly accuse you of hating the Igbos, we know that such accusation is not true because available facts prove them wrong. Now in the face of this rumour of denying the South East this DSP opportunity, our counterparts feel they are about to be proved right. Mr. President, you cannot let them have this laugh on us. They have argued that their party PDP have always accommodated the South East handsomely, having given the region the opportunity to produce the Senate President from 1999 to 2007, and among other ones, the DSP from 2015 till date. Should APC make the mistake of denying the South East this rightful position of the DSP, then our counterparts will have a field day in making us subjects of ridicule. In truth Mr President, zoning the DSP to the South East will go a long way in strengthening the APC within the region.
Luckily, the South East has a capable Senator-Elect in the person of His Excellent Chief Dr Orji Uzor Kalu. His emergence is simply an indication of God’s divine intervention both for the South East APC, the South East region and the country as a whole. With Chief Dr OUK as the Deputy Senate President, the party is assured of South East’s full integration into the centre because Dr Uzor Kalu is a great mobiliser and a bridge that connects people of various divides. Of note, he worked credibly for the party in the last elections, having campaigned vigoursly for APC both within his state Abia and beyond, taking the Next Level crusade to every part of the country, even across party lines. You will hardly find any single person in Nigeria who campaigned for the party in an individual capacity more than His Excellency Chief Dr Orji Uzor Kalu.
It is equally on record that Chief Dr Orji Uzor Kalu is a true advocate of democracy as he, as a governor, fought gallantly against the imposition of the 3rd Third agenda on Nigerians. He did this against all odds, not minding the consequences. Despite the seeming threat such advocacy posed against his personal interest, he remained resolute, in the interest of true democracy and by extension in the interest of Nigerians general. Today, he has been rightly vindicated because has such ignoble tendency been allowed to succeed, who knows what would have become of our collective fate by now, maybe Nigeria would have degenerated to an irredeemable state, denying us of the rare opportunity of having someone like you as the president. In his person, Igbos are presenting a candidate we are sure will deliver, and with him the people of South East will be awakened and hope restored to the region; a candidate of peace and unity; a personality who can traverse all ethno-regional sentiments and rise above petty considerations.
In terms of qualification for the job, His Excellency Chief Dr Orji Uzor Kalu cannot be found wanting having gathered an invaluable experience during his time as a member of the National Assembly (House of Representatives) in 1992/1993, and having occupied the position of Vice Chairman, Committees on Banking, and Internal Affairs. Above all, he was, within such short duration, the brain behind the famous dual citizenship right bill. His highly commendable stewardship in Abia State as a governor for eight years (1999 to 2007) is also an added advantage as his sound leadership qualities robbed off positively on the state.
Mr. President, please do not listen to anybody who may want to tell you that South East is not qualified for this DSP position because of APC’s poor performance at the last election. If anything, the right thing should be to encourage the South East to do better in subsequent elections and there is no better way than to have their popular son become the DSP. If APC truly wants to get larger followership and support from the South East going forward, then support the allocation of this position of Deputy Senate Presidency to the region and to their son His Excellency Chief Dr Orji Uzor Kalu. It is the right thing to do in all ramifications. If anyone tells you otherwise, Mr. President, then know it that such person is an enemy of our party APC, and most remarkably, enemy of our country Nigeria.
Mr. President, our party APC is lucky to have you as a rallying point as everybody in the party holds you in a very high esteem. And I am sure that everybody, from the party leadership to the Senators-Elect, will be happy to follow your directive on this, basically because of the respect and compliance you command from all, and because it is simply a just course. Just say the word Sir and everybody will follow.
I trust that as the father of all, you will bring your influence to bear on this very matter to make sure that justice is upheld against all other trivial considerations. Everybody is keenly watching and waiting and the naysayers are salivating at the prospect of ridiculing the party should the South East be overlooked for this position. We have confidently told them they will be disappointed because we believe that as a man of integrity you will never allow this potential injustice against the South East.
I am hopeful, Mr. President, that you will vindicate us in this by making sure a South East Senator in the person of His Excellency Chief Dr Orji Uzor Kalu gets this position of Deputy Senate Presidency of the 9th Senate. It is the just thing to do, Mr. President, and it will be a resounding legacy you will be leaving for the country.
Thanks in utmost anticipation.
Hon. Augustine Okezie.
From Abia State.