Chief Ayo Adebanjo, the leader of Afenifere, Yoruba is obviously one of the most honest and courageous statesmen out of Nigeria.
He loves his Yoruba race but at the same time he loves the truth just as he has remained consistently loyal to objectivity in all facets of Nigeria’s national life.
As preparations get intensive towards the year 2023 national election, Chief Adebanjo is one man who has maintained the position that the best way towards achieving national harmony, social justice and collective advancement of constitutional democracy is for the rest of the nation to support a credible presidential candidate to emerge from the South East of Nigeria as the successor to the Northerner President Muhammadu Buhari next year.
Few days back, this political colossus said: “How can anybody who loves this Country talk of the presidency coming to the South West in 2023? Why should you exclude the South East? Is South East not part of Nigeria? South West has had, South South has had, the North has had, why exclude the South East if you want them to be there? That is the point”.
The position espoused by Chief Adebanjo resonates in a lot of places in the ongoing national conversations on how best to achieve peaceful transition from the presidency of Muhammadu Buhari to a fresh president come 2023 May 29th.
Just as Chief Ayo Adebanjo said, the South East of Nigeria does not lack the right kind of potential national leaders who can meritoriously emerge as the successor to the current president. Political heavyweights from the South East have began consultations across board to get the rest of Nigeria agree to maintain the zoning formula which ensures national integration and harmony.
Already the likes of the Senate Chief whip and senator representing the good people of Abia North and two terms governor of Abia State Chief Orji Uzor Kalu; erstwhile Senate president and former Chief scribe of the Federation Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, the incumbent Ebonyi State governor Mr. Dave Umahi have all indicated interests to run for the office of the president of Nigeria.
Almost all of them have individually met the incumbent president Muhammadu Buhari to put him in the know that they have the best of intention to succeed his administration comes next year.
Two of these statesmen from the Igbo heartland are considered to be better prepared than the rest of the pack and they are the current most senior national political office holder in the ruling party who is the chief whip of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Senator Orji Uzor Kalu and the former senate president Senator Anyim Pius Anyim.
The duo seems to have indeed come prepared with loaded developmental blueprints for a new Nigeria if any of them wins the office of Nigerian president in 2023.
Interestingly, both Orji Uzor Kalu and Anyim Pius Anyim have individually made tremendous successes in convincing key stakeholders in the East, South South, the North and South West that they are dependable and can be trusted and entrusted with the highest office in Nigeria.
Both Senator Anyim and Kalu represents some of the finest and most refined nationalists who can easily work for all of Nigeria if given such a high office of President and for sure each of these two can be equated to the philosopher king described by Plato thus: “Philosopher kings who possess the wisdom and knowledge to understand the nature of a good life.”
Both men are filing questions and responding g robustly to probing questions from journalists in the Country. Recently, former Senate President Senator Anyim Pius Anyim who is an aspirant in the Peoples Democratic Party granted extensive interview to an online newspaper- PremiumTimes and was asked-: Now, why do you want to be the President of Nigeria?
And Senator Anyim responds thus: Because I have something to bring to the table. I have said it clearly that I am that one Nigerian that can build the consensus required to generate the necessary indeed, the required patriotism to drive the country forward.
PremiumTimes: We have had presidents since 1999 – Obasanjo, Yar’Adua, Jonathan and now Buhari, what is it that you are bringing to the table that is different from what these people have offered?
Anyim: Well, let me also follow your question the way you presented. Obasanjo came into the leadership of the country for the second time as a civilian president at a time we thought that the military had run down the country. And everybody was committed that the military must leave and we were heavily indebted and Obasanjo did his bit wonderfully. He was a president and a president indeed and I respect him for it.
Obasanjo left, Yar’Adua came, one way or another, his tenure was short-lived. Goodluck (Jonathan) came and Goodluck, of course, followed due processes, laid standards, democratically led the country, and we were regaining our position, you know, as a forward looking country – economically, politically and socially.
Then after Goodluck, now, this president of course. I know you are living in this country today. And you can tell me, if you care, that everybody feels that there should be a change, a change of attitude, a change of approach. Some others feel the need to rescue their country from drifting many spheres, we are at the precipice and all that.
One, if for whatever reason, it is clear that something must be done to set the country right. Two, what am I bringing to the table at a time like this? And I said, what I have experienced from the various administrations from Obasanjo in 1999 to Buhari, 2023 so to say, I have seen what were their programmes, their weaknesses, their strengths. And I was observing them or working with them from a very vantage position. And I can say that I have experience and competence. I have the capacity to put my knowledge together to make a difference and build consensus that will generate a new spirit that guarantees a national rebirth so that we can progress as a nation.
PremiumTimes: You were central to Jonathan’s tenure as the Secretary to the Federation. A lot of people would wonder if you have something tangible and reformatory, why didn’t you bring it to the table before your party was voted out in 2015?
Anyim: Let’s also be honest. The same people who shouted “crucify Jonathan” are they not the same people begging him to come back? If you have anything to accuse Jonathan administration of, it is definitely not lack of ideas, reforms or standardising processes. If there is anything that Nigerians are missing today, those are the main issues. Under Jonathan, the economy boomed. Under Jonathan we have fair political stability. Under Jonathan, you can drive your car from Abuja to Kaduna. Can you try it today? I can say with all confidence that the difference between Jonathan’s time and today is not hidden and you can also attest to that.
If you asked me, I want to tell you that most Nigerians would say we are coming to bring back what we had during Jonathan, but I want to do more. And I’m in a position to do more. Whether you like it or not, the fourth industrial revolution is here. In the next few years we will not live the way we live today. In the next two years we will not work the way we work today. In the next few years, everything that comes as consensus will not be as it is. Today, we are complaining about the collapse of the little industrial gains we made in the 80s for reasons of lack of infrastructure and inconsistent policy and all that.
But tomorrow, automation will take over all that anybody would seek to do in industries. So you may have industries without employment. It will be my responsibility as the president of Nigeria at this time to prepare Nigeria to fit into the fourth industrial revolution. That is the most important thing. The unemployment we’re talking about today is not going to be the same in the future. The oil we are dependent on today is not going to be the same in the near future. You are not going to have a ‘deaf president’ who will sit and will not be able to work. We need to prepare the country for the future, otherwise our children will not have a place to call their own.
Recently, an observer commented on the epochal incident of Nelson Mandela and Orji Kalu in throwback Photo, 25 Years Ago.
The writer said: Forbes rated Nigerian Billionaire entrepreneur and 2023 Presidential aspirant, Senator Orji Kalu is pictured in this rare photo with late global iconic leader and Former South African President, Nelson Mandela.
The former South African leader who led the anti-apartheid revolution is reported to have been a Mentor to Kalu the current Chief Whip of the 9th Senate.
Although the exact year in which the photo was taken could not be ascertained, however it is reportedly taken in 1997, the framed photograph pictures both leaders engaging in a discussion.
Orji Kalu who currently represents Abia North Senatorial district maintained a close relationship of over 20 years with the first president of South Africa (1994 to 1999) until his demise in December 2013.
The former Abia Governor was once quoted to have said that being a mentee to the late foremost African leader he was tutored and shaped into a responsible, industrious and disciplined man , stating that Mandela set a challenging example to other African leaders by retiring after a single term as South Africa’s president.
Senator Orji Uzor Kalu also said he learnt his forgiving spirit, despite everything he has gone through in the hands of his adversaries, yet, he has forgiven them wholeheartedly.
Kalu was under the tutelage of Nelson Mandela. Madiba, who spent 27 years in prison , came out and became president, forgave those whites who put him in jail.
Similarly Orji Kalu stated in a recent interview on ChannelsTV that he had forgiven all those who contributed to his unlawful six months incarceration at the Kuje Custodial Centre in Abuja.
In 2007 Kalu’s relationship with Mandela paid off for Nigeria during a struggle led by Orji Kalu to stop the move for an amendment of the Nigerian constitution by former President Olusegun Obasanjo to enable him seek a third term in office.
Senate Chief Whip, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, has recently revealed how the late South African leader, Nelson Mandela, put pressure on former Nigeria President, Olusegun Obasanjo, to drop his third-term presidential agenda.
Giving an account Kalu revealed that Mandela played a crucial role in ensuring Obasanjo abandoned the idea of amending the Constitution, to enable him contest for a third term in office.
A Quote credited to Orji Kalu reads;
“I recall my personal interactions with him (Mandela), especially during our national struggle to force President Olusegun Obasanjo to drop his plan to amend the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and secure an extension of his tenure.
“Disturbed by the details, Mandela placed a call to President Olusegun Obasanjo and told him in clear terms that whatever his plans were, it was neither desirable for Africa.
“That intervention proved strategic to the leadership question in Nigeria at the time, leading to elections in 2007,” Kalu said.
However, Obasanjo’s failed third term agenda signalled the beginning of Orji Kalu’s travails with the cancellation of his business licenses by Obasanjo’s Government which included; Hallmark Bank and Slok Airline which at that time had over 9000 workers .
Kalu’s confrontation with Obasanjo also led to the institution of corruption allegations against him by the Federal Government’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
To demonstrate that South East will go very far in actualisation the emergence of a President of South East extraction, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu said he Knows Nigeria So Well and that, he has What It Takes To Solve Its Challenges.
The media reports that former governor of Abia State and Senate Chief Whip, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, has said that he knows Nigeria so well and has what it takes to solve all the challenges confronting the country. Kalu, who spoke on Friday against the backdrop of his presidential ambition on Channel Television’s Politics Today anchored by Seun Okinbaloye, and which was monitored by Saturday Telegraph, reiterated his resolve to tackle the economic, and security problems confronting the country if elected president in the 2023 General Elections. The former governor stressed that he would give Nigerians the confidence that they are Nigerians and the motivation to move forward, saying that the nation is like a football team, which he said he could handle the way he handled Enyimba Football Club. “What every aspect of this country needs is motivation.
The cameraman and woman working in your station need motivation, even you too need motivation. It’s just like the Nigerian team you watched in AFCON, they were good individually, but they were not a team. They didn’t recognise that they were not a team. I know the ups and downs of Nigeria and I can make Nigeria a big state and a big player in world affairs. When you look at my face and you see the face of Nigeria you will understand what I mean. I will create a situation, where leaders of the world will rally round Nigeria because I know the world. That is the major thing I would bring to the table.
“The most important thing that made the president to borrow is banditry and terrorism, so I will tackle that. I will also look at electricity and I will give Nigerians confidence so that they can be respected everywhere, and they would be Nigerians in America, Canada, Kenya and everywhere. “I will recommend Nigerians to the world, where they would say they are Nigerians. Nigerians would move from the Sahara Desert to the Atlantic Ocean and nobody can molest them. I did it in Abia, when I was governor. “There were criminal cases when I got there and I handled it within two years. I finished Bakassi Boys in Abia and I even went to Anambra and other places to clear them. The police that I was governor with knew what I did and it was a miracle. And it could be repeated here in Nigeria. I understand Nigeria because I know the country.
I told our elders that I understand Nigeria better than most of our leaders. I understand this country because I have the Kanuri brain, the Fulani brain and I know everybody,” he said. He added that the Nigeria needs his power of intellect, while promising that he would save her from terrorism and build the economy. While promising that the country would be a place, where everybody would be happy, he stressed that he would fight terrorism and banditry, adding that when he is sworn-in as president on May 29, 2023, Nigerians would have their country back between 14 and 24 months.
EMMANUEL ONWUBIKO is a POLITICAL AND MEDIA STRATEGIST BASED IN ABUJA.