2023: Be Desperate, Orji Uzor Kalu, please!

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By Emmanuel Onwubiko

“Until philosophers are kings, cities will never have rest from their evils”

Plato (427- 347BCE).

“According to Georg Hegel, political ideas are an abstraction from the political life of a society, state, culture, or political movement.
To make sense of those ideas, and the institutions or movements they explain, involves examining their history and development.
That history is always a story of how we got to where we are now. What we cannot do is look forward to see where history is going. In Roman mythology, the Owl of Minerva was a symbol of wisdom. For Hegel, the Owl only “takes flight at twilight”. By this, he means that understanding can only come retrospectively. Hegel is warning against optimism about developing ideas for where to go next. He is also issuing a subtle warning against his other famous claim that the rise of the modern state is the end of history. It is very easy to see ourselves as the most progressive, enlightened, and rational age ever after all we believe in democracy Human rights, open economies, and Constitutional government. But these are by no means simple ideas, and they are not shared by all societies and peoples even today. The last 80 years of world history have seen the rise of new nation-states as a result of imperial retreat and decolonization. Federations such as Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia have fragmented into new states, as has the former USSR. The desire for national sovereignty is also strong in places such as Quebec, Catalonia, Kurdistan, and Kashmir. Yet, while peoples have struggled for statehood, states have sought complex federations and political union. The last three decades have seen the rise of the European Union, which aspires to closer political integration, as well as the North American Free Trade area and many other organizations for regional cooperation. Old ideas of state sovereignty have an awkward role in the new political world of pooled Sovereignty, economic Cooperation, and globalization. Hegel’s point seems very pertinent here – we cannot predict how we will appear to those in the future, nor whether what seems common sense to us will be seen as persuasive by our descendants.”

“Making sense of the present requires an understanding of the variety of political ideas and theories conceived throughout history. These ideas serve as an explanation of the possibilities of the present, as well as a warning against overconfidence in our own political values, and they remind us that the demands of organizing and governing the collective life of society change in ways that we cannot fully predict.
As new possibilities for the exercise of power arise, so will new demands for its control and accountability, and with these will come new political ideas and theories. Politics concerns all of us, so we should all be involved in that debate”. ( see ‘The Politics Book’, first published in Great Britain in 2013 by Dorling Kindersley limited).
The above profound citations from one of the most outstanding political philosophy’s books of our time takes us to the immediate rationale for this brief meditation on the next year’s most important presidential election in Nigeria.
The above draws inspiration from the reaction made by one of the Igbo hopefuls for the office of President of Nigeria since the Country was created- Senator Orji Uzor Kalu.

It must be said clearly that since 1960 that the British colonialists formed or rather contrived political independence (Nigeria was amalgamated in 1914 though made up of separate nationalities from South and North that were hitherto on their own), modern day Nigeria and beginning from 1963 when Nigeria became a Republic, no Igbo person, man or woman has become Nigeria’s executive president.
Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe the United States educated politician of the illustrious memory, was the closest Igbo Man to becoming executive president.
Sadly, he Azikiwe, could not be allowed to assume the executive office but rather was a mere ceremonial president in a nation where by the Igbos are about the majority in terms of actual and real census figure and not by this fraudulent head counts.

The Senate Chief whip and former two terms governor of Abia State senator Orji Uzor Kalu who is one amongst the likeliest Igbo man to become the first ever executive president of Nigeria, that is if the All Progressives Congress gives the zoning of that office to the South East and if the rest of the voting Nigerians give it to the South East as a matter of the necessity to ensure social justice, fairness and federal character which is at the heart of our nationhood amidst our diversity.
Senator Kalu was quoted as saying that he is competent to run for the office of Nigeria’s President but that he is not desperate.
I think we have reached a crossroad in Nigeria and the Country is in a very desperate times requiring desperate solutions.

So the affirmation that someone who should rightly fight to be elected saying that he is not desperate, does not arise now. Positive desperation is important.
As stated, Nigeria is in a very deep mess politically, economically and in terms of sustainable development, security, justice and national harmony.
Nigeria as I write is heavily divided due to certain centrifugal and centripetal forces working to undermine national integration through ethno-religious bigotry in government and nepotism.
So desperation from the positive perspective is what is needed now to make sure that the cocktails of injustices done against over 60 million Igbos of Nigeria are re- written.
First step to achieve these, is by zoning the presidency to the South East by all the leading political parties. This is a task that must be done.

Therefore the Chief Whip of the Senate and a former governor of Abia State, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, has declared ahead of the 2023 general elections that though he is ready for the campaigns and capable of leading the country, he is not desperate to become president.
This is wrong on many fronts as aforementioned.
However, while fielding questions from journalists at the National Assembly recently, a day after he visited President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, the Senate Chief Whip emphasised that the presidential contest will be the collective decision of Nigerians and the zoning arrangement of the political parties, particularly the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
The former governor, however, maintained that the Southeast region was overdue to produce the next president of the country, adding that there were only two zones yet to produce the president which are the Southeast and Northeast geo-political zones.

Kalu stressed that his visit to Buhari was a usual one, adding that their relationship has spanned for years before he became president.
He disclosed that their discussions were centered on national issues with regards to security, electoral laws, and the welfare of the country.
“This is not the first time I’m going to see the President. People usually go in the afternoon but I went in the night to avoid the press,” he said.
“I go there regularly. It’s a family affair and I went there to discuss national issues with regards to security, the wellbeing of our country, and the issue of the electoral law, and the discussion was very fruitful.”

When asked if he informed the president of his ambition, he responded: “Has the party zoned the ticket to the Southeast? It’s only when the party zone it officially to the South. I have said before that there are only two zones that have not been president: the Southeast and the Northeast. Once it’s zoned to the Southeast, I have the capacity and the capability will roll out my campaign and rock like a hurricane.
It’s overdue for an Igbo man to become a Nigerian president; I believe the Southeast should produce the next President and it’s going to happen.”
Kalu said those against the Igbos from producing the next president of Nigeria were not being fair to the Southeast and Northeast geopolitical zones which had never produced the president since 1999.
He said those already pushing are not being fair to the feelings of Nigerians.
“They are not serious. A serious-minded person will like to be fair to Nigeria, to be fair to society, and be fair to the atmosphere because this party is not owned by me or by you the press people.
“It is only APC people that can decide where the party ticket will go, if they zone it to the Southeast I have all it takes to make a good president”.
The Abia North Senator said that he would pursue his presidential ambition with other geopolitical zones of the nation while stressing that he will commence nationwide consultation at the right time.
Responding to questions on the APC’s forthcoming convention, Kalu expressed optimism that the exercise will be raucous free saying that the outcome will make Nigerians proud.

Recall that Kalu’s declaration came barely 24 hours after former Governor of Lagos State and chieftain of APC, Bola Ahmed Tinubu met with President Buhari to express his interest in the top job. The Governor of Ebonyi State, Dave Umahi, had also met with Buhari to declare his ambition to take over from him in 2023.
However, I disagree with Senator Orji Uzor Kalu on the aforementioned.
Now this is why positivity and constructive thinking should compel the major political parties to let the South East get the presidency desperately.
The Leader of Pan Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, said that the South-East should produce the president in 2023 election, if Nigeria hopes to enjoy peace.
Speaking with the media, the nonagenarian noted that he loves the Yoruba aspirants, who he called his children, but asserted that he is supporting the South-East to promote justice and fair play.

Asked thus-: How can we overcome and come out of the hydra headed problems the country faces?
The Yoruba leader said: “You cannot get out of them unless you change the constitution; all other things you are talking about are just balderdash. You can’t get out of these problems or Nigeria breaking until you change the constitution to a real federal constitution before the elections. This is the naked truth; all these we will do this and that are just beating about the bush.
Asked if it is it possible to do as you have suggested before the election, which is just around the corner?
His response-: “This is something that is necessary and the only thing that will give you stability. What is sacrosanct about the election if you are not going to get a united country? Is it not a sacrifice that is worth it? You do the election and start another crisis again? Security is bad, education is bad, health is bad, and everything is bad. We should do this once and for all and move on. It is possible to do it if there is the will. At worst, postpone the election and let us get the Nigeria of our dream, it is a sacrifice that is worth it.

The reporter then asked him thus-: You have been clamouring recently for a president of Igbo extraction in 2023. What gave rise to this?
He answered- It is fairness, justice and equity. We have been doing rotation, it is only South-East that has not produced the president. How can the rest of the country be ganging up against them? We are not saying the truth. It is their right to produce the president, any other argument is selfish and such people are not serious about Nigeria.
Asked Why he is not supporting Yoruba, since everybody seems to be supporting his or her own? He said-: “I was taught politics of fairness, justice and equity. Have the Yoruba not produced the president and the vice president? Have the South-East got it? If you were in the shoes of the Igbo and the presidency is coming to the South and it is going back to the Yoruba, is that fairness and how would you feel? We are just busy deceiving ourselves to find one lame argument or the other. I love Nigeria to be one. Anything short of that; you are pushing the South-East out of Nigeria. If Buhari is sincere, let him step down the constitution and get another one before the election, unless we want to continue to deceive ourselves.
Reminded that some people are saying that you are not supporting the Yoruba aspirants because you have a grouse with some of them, he then interjected thus: “Forget about that nonsense talk. Am I an aspirant? Yoruba people are my children. I’m telling you what brought Nigeria together. That is gossip that shouldn’t be taken seriously. I, Ayo Adebanjo, which Yoruba person do I have scores to settle with? Who was born the same time with me? All these talks don’t make meaning to me at all. Which Yoruba man today will say that I’m competing with him? Did I compete with anybody in the First Republic when many of them were not born? If they don’t want to face the truth they should say so. There is no man today, including Buhari that I have to compete with. I’m satisfied with what God has given to me. I am a very contented man and I thank God for His grace. We are talking about justice, so don’t bring any lame excuse about one thing or the other.

Asked also that against your position, what if the North brings out candidates, what will you tell Nigerians? He responded thus-: We have said that we don’t want anybody from the North as candidate; that is simple. The North has no right as of now. It is South – South-East. It’s as simple as that if we are going to have elections.
To the question what types of Nigeria would you advise Buhari to leave? Chief Adebanjo who speaks truth to power stated thus-: He should bring us back to the position he met us if he is fair. If he is sincere, let him take us back to the constitution signed by Azikiwe, Balewa, Awolowo, Ahmadu Bello, Mbonu Ojike and others that went to the London Constitutional Conference to give the constitution we agreed to operate, which was a true federal constitution.(The Sun Nigeria).
So to Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, I say to you-: Be Desperate so ndigbo gets her due right in the Nigerian federation by becoming President next year. You have been endorsed by many supporters so we need you and our other aspirants from the South East to be desperate to achieve a united Igbo political agendum so one if you becomes Nigeria’s President.
Good a thing, just before writing this, a coalition of youth groups in the country under the auspices of “Emerging Leaders Forum of Nigeria” (ELFON) has declared the Senate Chief Whip, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu as its presidential candidate for 2023 general elections.
In their declaration, the group detailed the former Governor’s ability to foster unity and fight insecurity in the country which according to them was displayed during his time as Abia Governor.
ELFON National President, Amb. Godstime Chukwubuikem Samuel made the statement on Tuesday, when he led other members of the group to the Senate wing of the National Assembly on a familiarisation visit to the Senate Chief Whip.
The group said its discussion to adopt Kalu as their preferred Presidential candidate is based on their unbiased assessment of his leadership profile, particularly his detribalised posture and shared generosity.

Notable members of the group include;Ex- Super Eagle international, Mr Celestine Emmanuel Babayaro; Speaker Niger Delta Youth Parliament, Rt Hon. Ufon Daniel; Former Edo State commissioner, Hon. Damain Lawani; Commissioner of Lands and Survey Kano state, Hon. Sadiq Sada; Speaker Nigerian Students Parliament, Hon. Aliyu Mubarak among others.
Amb. Godstime, also disclosed that the group has resolved to use it’s campaign and foot soldiers to ensure the mobilisation of 45 million Nigerians of goodwill to support the election of Orji Kalu as the next Nigerian President.
“Our decision to pay you this visit for familiarization and partnership is based on an unbiased assessment of your leadership profile, particularly your detribalised posture and shared generosity. We have on record the critical roles you played in ensuring Nigeria’s corporate existence by defending Nigerians from external aggression and maintaining Nigeria’s territorial integrity right from your days as the Governor of Abia state.
“Your diligent services and selfless dispositions in the discharge of your duties in secret and in the open has immensely contributed in holding the country together as a united and indivisible country against the wish of sponsors of Amber of Disunity.
“Not too many Nigerians have the capacity of leading Nigeria to our collective dream and aspiring Nation but We are blessed to have a few of your Calibre who have shown interest with imposing will and driving force to better Nigeria.
“We have decided to take any Nigerian Leader that takes us seriously as we hope for the better. You are a leader that demystifies service to the people with genuine fear of God, an epitome of development worthy of Emulation.

Making it’s case for the South-East to produce the next president in 2023, Godstime said that group recognises that a better and prosperous Nigeria is more guaranteed in an atmosphere of justice, equity and fair play. He acknowledged that a divided and turbulent Nigeria deplete with brazen injustice, inequities and unfair decisions will be pungent to desired growth and development.

*EMMANUEL ONWUBIKO is a Political and media strategist based in Abuja, Nigeria.

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