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Kalu: What manner of Senate President? — By Prince Lekan Alade

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Talk of justice, talk of fairness. They make life go round. In fact, this world of ours is anchored around the duo. The twins are inseparable. They’re Siemens of sort.

The duo can’t be profiled. It has no nationality or ethnicity. It goes beyond boundaries. And it’s without borders. Justice and fairness are the engine that oil and propel democracy. They are its bedrock and strength. They are the pillars that stand democracy on its feet.

We can’t pretend ours to be different in this clime. We can’t risk being an island unto ourselves. We must, as a matter of compulsion, flow with the tide. We have no viable choice.

So be it with the 10th Senate Presidency. The general elections are over. The battle has been fought. And the war has been won and lost. The focus is now on the spoils of war.

The race is hot. Nothing less is expected. The contenders are equally outstanding political gladiators. And it’s being upped by the minutes.

The stake is high. And the 10th National Assembly (NASS) must get its leadership right. It must avoid pitfalls. The road is tortuous, lazed with landmines.

The task ahead of Senate President is Herculean. It requires Hercules to do the job. The responsibilities are huge. It requires an equally strong character for the role.

We need a Senate President of like never before. A fixer extraordinary; a bridge builder of immense means; a silent listener and coordinator. We yearn for a personality that walk his talk.

Orji Uzor Kalu aptly fits the bill. He is well versed in the business. A tested politician and businessman. He has come, seen and conquered. He has proved overtime that he knows his onions too well.

He couldn’t have been alone in the power struggle. His co-contenders are no pushovers. They are gladiators on their own rights. They can be intimidating. But Kalu is no stranger to challenges. He won’t succumb, he won’t give up. His mind is made. His resolve is absolute.

The line-up: Dave Umahi, Godswill Akpabio, Osita Izunaso, Ali Ndume, Abdulaziz Yari, Musa Sani, Barau Jibrin and Adams Oshiomhole. Out of this pack, only Oshiomhole will be a new face in the Senate.

Four of them have been governor. They include Kalu, Akpabio, Yari and Oshiomhole. Umahi is serving Governor of Ebonyi State. Kalu stands tall. This is not unusual of him. He is in a familiar terrain and in his normal elements. Always standing to be counted; when it’s convenient and when it is not.

He will bring this to play as Senate President. He brazes the storm and dares the “darable.” He is excited by challenges. The reason he confronts any that crosses his path headlong.

Exploration is a hobby for him, venturing is a pastime. He is a problem solver. He fears no foes. He is gifted with a unique style. He exhibits it with human feelings that surpass others. He cares whose ox is gored. He is conscious and calculated in his actions and inactions.

Kalu is not an all-weather politician. He is one Nigerian truly detribalised with high leadership qualities. He stands firm on his conviction. Even when it was risky taboo in the South East.

He stuck with President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. And he didn’t do it underground. He was open and plain. And the rest is sweet history.

Zoning Senate President to South East is a potent weapon. It will right some perceived wrongs. It represents fairness and justice. It will put paid to the lingering marginalisation claim. It’s equity in its finest.

Kalu in the race makes a strong case for the South East. He was two-term Governor of Abia State from 29 May 1999 to 29 May 2007. He first came into the Senate in 2019. He represented and still representing Abia North. And almost instantly, he made a mark.

His sterling and uncommon traits couldn’t be hidden. They couldn’t go unspotted. The pleasant message was not lost on his colleagues. They had no difficulty in electing him Chief Whip of the Red Chamber. And we are glad they did.

Kalu has a legion of credible testifiers to his credit and advantage. They are spread across the five zones. These are not easy to come by. Rare traits are alien to small minds.

Dr. Bashir Lamido is one. He is Director General, Arewa Summit International. His profound attestation: “Kalu’s commitment to peace, unity, progress and stability should be emulated by well-meaning Nigerians. His sense of patriotism, courage, sagacity and national appeal is a testament to the fact that he is an elder statesman.”

He’s not done yet: “If you have someone like Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, who is nationally accepted in the race, the best thing to do is for the zone to rally round him like the South West did to Tinubu during the presidential primary of the All Progressives Congress (APC).”

An honest opinion: “The Igbo people will get what they are looking for easily if Igbo follow him.” Why? Lamido’s quick response: “He has proven to be there for the people at a time they needed him most.

“He should be commended by every well-meaning Nigerian for standing firm on the principles of equity, justice, and fairness. He is a national figure who cannot be traded for unknown people.”

Kalu’s childhood friend and lawyer, Henry Endeley, would not keep quiet. Not even this time. They have been friends for over 40 years. They met at the University of Maiduguri (UNIMAID), Borno State.

He has a strong belief in the qualities deposited in Kalu. Perhaps, they are stored up in him for a time like this. Who knows?

His convincing testimony:

“He (Kalu) is a unifier. He understands the deep-rooted differences between the ethnic groups and nationalities of the nation with respect for our respective choices of religion or mode of worship.”

Kolajo Abiola, son of Chief MKO Abiola, would not want to be left out. He couldn’t keep it to himself any longer. He was forthright and forthcoming. You wouldn’t disagree with him. He poured out:

“One can recognise an ally and a friend in times of hardship. 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.”

His candid view: “Banking on the political sagacity of the President-elect, Tinubu, from the South West and the firm support of the Vice-President-elect, 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.”

Abiola has his reason: “For the sake of equity, fairness and justice, thus maintaining the balance of power and a sense of inclusion.”

Even more than that: “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.”

The pitfall of APC’s presidential ticket must not rear its ugly head again. That is one important decider of the next holder of the Senate President seat. APC should be deliberate about it. The uproar, hue and cry that trailed its Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket must not be toiled with. Not this time around.

A repeat performance does not worth it. APC dares not. It will be stretching its luck too much. The way to go is to intentionally avoid such landmine. Thanks heaven, the party appears to be addressing it with all the seriousness it deserves. A report revealed: “According to party sources, the party leadership is well inclined to avoid another Muslim-Muslim Muslim-Muslim leadership for the top job in Senate. With that in mind, some of the high flyers currently nursing interest may be edged out of contention.”

Abiola willingly offered timely warning to avoid a time bomb: “The President-elect and the Vice President-elect are Muslims, the party chairman is a Muslim. This is keen to avoid being labelled a Muslim party.”

He who has ears let him hear. And hear well. A Kalu Senate presidency will assuage bruised nerves. It will signal the honest beginning of a genuine healing process.

The 10th Senate President requires a politician with considerable experience in governance and law making. All of these qualities Kalu possesses in spades along with the fundamental tools to thrive in the role.

Then, what manner of Senate President in the 10th National Assembly? Even more, what exactly will a Kalu Senate Presidency offer?

We have tall dreams. Our expectations are huge. Our demands are many. With his high-flying attributes, it’s within Kalu’s reach to excel. He is aptly considered “the most influential Chief Whip in the history of the Nigerian Senate.” This came from no less a personality than Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan, the incumbent Senate President himself.
We’re unperturbed. Kalu is the manner of the 10th Senate President we desire!

Prince Lekan Alade writes from Ketu, Lagos state

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