2023 Presidency: Why IBB, North, Prefer Orji Kalu

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By Issa Ibrahim

The coast may not yet be clear, but the stage is gradually taking shape for the race to Aso Rock Villa in 2023 and the push for a Nigerian President of South East extraction is gathering speedy momentum.

The 2023 presidential poll is just over 20 months away but there are already permutations on the zone that should produce the president. Majority are of the opinion that it is the turn of the South East, which has yet to produce a president since the return of democracy in 1999.

Senator Orji Uzor Kalu

Asides the basis of equity, justice and fairness in the quest for an Igbo man to become a Nigerian President, there is also the need for a Progressive leadership and corrective leadership. 

In 2023, there’s no doubt that Nigeria needs a President who will consolidate on the infrastructural gains of the current Buhari administration but most importantly better manage the country’s diversity, retool the economy and deal conclusively with insecurity.

The next President of Nigeria should wield the capacity and unfettered commitment to heal the bruised and battered national umbilicus. 

It is premised that the move was informed by assumptions that APC would zone its 2023 presidential ticket to the South, where political analysts believe the odds are overwhelmingly in favour of the South East.

One of the names that has consistently been mentioned as competent to fulfil the above mentioned and more is no other than the former Governor of Abia State and current Chief Whip of the ninth Senate, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu.

The Abia Born Politician who started his business empire in the heart of Northern Nigeria is said to be heavily backed by Northern stakeholders as well as groups to succeed President Buhari in 2023.

Orji Kalu’s name has continued to dominate national political discourse following an interview granted by former military President, General Ibrahim Babangida to the fast-growing television station, Arise TV, a few days to his 80th birthday on August 17. 

In the interview, General Babangida seems to set the parameters to be met by the next President of Nigeria. He believes the post-2023 President must be in his 60s, must have good knowledge of the economy, and must have friends or associates across the country.

The Minna-based General specifically pronounced Senator Orji Uzor Kalu as a potential Presidential material who possesses the set parameters to arrest the issues confronting the country today.

In the interview the former Military leader said the former Governor and current Federal Lawmaker will be a suitable choice to take over the presidency of the country, saying it will be in Nigeria’s interest.

Babangida made this comment in a documentary aired on AIT on Sunday. This is after his highly publicised interview with ARISE TV where he highlighted the kind of personality that will be suitable to lead the country in 2023.

Consolidating on IBB’s position recently NORTHERN youths under the auspices of Coalition Of Northern Nigerian Youth, CNNY, groups endorsed Senator Kalu for President.

Explaining why they chose the former Governor of Abia State and now serving Senator to be Nigeria’s next President in 2023 the group urged Kalu to contest for the 2023 Presidential election,saying they believe he has the leadership acumen, capacity, dexterity and contacts to be Nigeria’s President.

This was contained in a statement signed by the National Coordinator, CNNY, Amb. Zarewa Salisu Sageer, National Secretary, CNNY, Amb. Abu Bature Dandume, North Central Coordinator, CNNY, Comr. Muhammad Yakubu Arigu, Coordinator, North East, CNNY, Amb. Amos Ishaku, Coordinator North West, CNNY, Amb. Adamu Kicinga.

According to the coalition made up of Northern Youth Council Of Nigeria, NYCN, Association Of Northern Nigerian Students, ANNS, Arewa Youth Consultative Council, AYCC, Arewa Youth For Good Governance, AYGG, it has become absolutely imperative to write and urge Kalu to contest for the 2023 Presidential election.

The statement reads in part, “We are Coalition Of Northern Nigerian Youth groups comprises Northern Youth Council Of Nigeria, NYCN, Association Of Northern Nigerian Students, ANNS, Arewa Youth Consultative Council, AYCC, Arewa Youth For Good Governance, AYGG, under the auspices of the Northern Nigerian Peace Foundation, NNPF, with the sole aim of advancing Good Governance, National Unity, Promotion of Religious Tolerance for the peaceful existence and the overall advancement of socioeconomic development of Nigeria.

“Out of our curiosity and positive thought, it has become absolutely imperative to write and urge his Excellency, the former Governor of Abia State and the current Chief Whip of the Senate, Distinguished Senator (Dr.) Orj Uzor Kalu to contest for the 2023 Presidential election as we believe that, he has the leadership acumen, capacity, dexterity and contacts to govern a complex nation like Nigeria.

In sustenance of the Northern clamour for Kalu to run for the number office in the country, diverse pressure groups in some Northern states have further indicated interest to support the Chief Whip of the Nigerian Senate if he indicates interest in running for office of the President in 2023.

According to findings, prominent northern stakeholders have concluded plans to make a massive political movement for Kalu, a former governor of Abia state by distributing food items on his behalf.

This exercise is scheduled to commence in Kano and Maiduguri in support of the eminent businessman who they described as a detribalized politician towards the 2023 Presidential election.

Although this is not the first time prominent Northern elite will be making practical steps to show their full support for Kalu, the latest development is came barely weeks after former Nigeria Military President, Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (IBB) endorsed Senator Kalu for President citing his youthfulness, economic experience, exposure and understanding of Nigeria.

In his Southeast zone, Orji Kalu a one time Forbes rated billionaire entrepreneur also secured the nod of some young Igbo entrepreneurs as suitable Presidential candidate from the five South East states.

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The group known as Umunna Lekki Association (ULA), comprising young entrepreneurs from Igboland residing in the Lekki, Ikoyi, Banana Island, Victoria Garden City (VGC) and Victoria Island axes of Lagos State, expressed readiness to support the Igbo Presidency project with their funds.

In a statement, signed by the President, Ikem Umeh-Ezeoke, ULA released a list of eminent Igbo sons and daughters capable of turning the fortunes of the country around.

Those shortlisted by the group include Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Enyinnaya Abaribe, Orji Uzor Kalu (Abia State); Peter Obi, Charles Udeogaranya, Ben Obi and Henry Okolie-Aboh and others.

Others are Governor Dave Umahi, Ogbonnaya Onu, Anyim Pius Anyim (Ebonyi State); Geoffrey Onyema, Barth Nnaji, Nnia Nwodo Jnr, Ike Ekweremadu (Enugu State) and Emeka Ihedioha, Rochas Okorocha, Kema Chikwe and Humphrey Anumudu (Imo State).

In the statement, the group also expressed its intention and readiness to donate funds in billions of naira to the two main political parties, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), “if they nominate Nigerians of Igbo extraction to fly their flags in the 2023 presidential election.”

An Igbo socio-political and cultural group, Movement for Justice and Equity/Solidarity for Election of President of Igbo Extraction, also enlisted Orji Kalu as the ideal candidate to actualize the 2023 Igbo Presidency.

The national president of the group, Chief Simon Chukwuemeka Ogonaezi, who stated this in Onitsha said that there are other Igbo people who are fit for the seat of the president but they endorse Orji Uzor Kalu because of their good track records.

Kalu also recently received the backing of the apex body for all the youth support groups for President Buhari Muhammadu,  the Buhari Youth Organization has declared its support for the candidacy of  Chief Whip of the Senate and former Governor of Abia state,  Senator Orji Uzor Kalu for the post of President in 2023.

The  leadership of the  Buhari group who visited Kalu in his Abuja residence on Monday noted that the country needs a detribalized citizen who understands the politics of Northern and Southern Nigeria,  adding that Kalu fits into Nigeria’s  need in 2023.

It stated  that the eminent  businessman is the “right person to bring the entire region together and foster economic prosperity.”

The leadership of the organization in the delegation included the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Buhari Youth Organization , Ambassador Ali Barakat;  National Coordinator of the Buhari Youth Organization,  Honourable Adam Abatcha and Diaspora Coordinator,  Professor Ali Alao.

Speaking to the Senate Chief Whip, the National Coordinator, Honourable Abatcha noted that the group had earlier made  attempts to visit him but for his very tight schedule.  He explained that BYO has been in existence for the past 10 years , adding that its membership spreads beyond the shores of Nigeria.

Taking a cursory look into the burgeoning preference of the two time Governor of Abia State to lead the world’s most  populous black nation in 2023, the reasons may not be far fetched.

Detribalised Face of Nigeria’s Unity

Kalu, a strong advocate of a united and indivisible Nigeria, has over the years traversed through the length and breadth of Nigeria thereby building relationships aimed at fostering peaceful coexistence among the people. With over 180 chieftaincy titles, membership of social, political, humanitarian and professional organisations and numerous national and international awards, including Member of the Order of the Niger (MON), bestowed on him by the then President of Nigeria, Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida.

Bestowed with the Prestigious traditional title of Dan Baiwan (gifted child), in President Buhari’s Daura Katsina Hometown by the Emir of Daura, Alhaji Umar Farouk Umar , the APC Chieftain  Kalu has always been described as detribalised with the face of Nigeria’s unity. This can be adduced to the avalanche of Kalu’s  business and political contacts particularly in Nigeria’s major Geopolitical zones, particularly the Northern region.

The Eminent businessman and former Governor of Abia State, has been described by many as a “People’s Person” with diverse business interests across the globe.

In the business world, many refer to Kalu as a quintessential entrepreneur and global investor. The man of means, who was the President of the Student Union Government, University of Maiduguri, commenced palm oil trading and furniture business in the North immediately he was suspended from the higher institution following a protest by students (Alli Must Go) against the unpopular policies of the institution.
Orji Uzor Kalu decided that building a business would be his next move. He raised N5,000 (approximately $35 going by exchange rate as at 01/06/2010) from his mother and started trading on palm oil; getting his supply from eastern Nigeria and reselling in the Northern part of Nigeria.

In the course of trading on palm oil, Kalu discovered that quality furniture was a luxury in the north and was imported from abroad. Sensing an opportunity, he began sourcing for quality furniture in the east (Aba to be precise) and reselling them in Maiduguri. Before long, breakthrough came and he abandoned oil palm trading; focusing instead on furniture trading.

Kalu’s foray into business in Northern Nigeria further expantiated his alliances with Northern stakeholders thus availing him an in-depth and great understanding of Nigerian politics in Northern Nigeria.

Over the years the Federal Lawmaker has amassed an unparalleled convergence with the dynamics of presidential power politics by the north. This is because he has a special bond with people from that part of the country. He had lived with them; he had done business with them, and still collaborated with them. He enjoys mutual trust that has yet to be diminished by time. He knows them very well and vice versa.  And, as a watcher of northern politics, I know as a matter of fact that the north and its power brokers believe in building consensus in the promotion of processes that lead to the emergence of Nigeria’s president at different intersections.

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For a practical politician who knows the mindset of the North, which is enamored with presidential power, the best strategy to deploy in securing the critical support of the north is to shear himself of a sense of entitlement, confrontation and contestation. 

Kalu’s political philosophy is in pari materia with the North’s philosophical imperativeness of consensus building. Kalu, perhaps, knows that even if he is going to run for the presidency, the force of his interest will not take him too far.  He will need the support and push of the critical North while not discountenancing the embrace of the essential south. This significant understanding is a big plus for the shrewd businessman and a politician with a legerdemain that has so far worked well in his favour in the making and definition of his politics.

The Northern endearment for Senator Orji Kalu was further proven weeks after the 2019 general election which saw Kalu emerge as a Principal Officer of the 9th Senate as the Chief Whip despite being a first time Senator.

Barely two weeks after the emergence of presiding officers of the Ninth National Assembly, the battle for principal officers’ began in Earnest.

However after a series of consultations and intense battle the Senator Kalu was unanimously picked by the National Working Committee of the APC backed by the Northern stakeholders to become the Senate Chief Whip. 

Local and International Business Entrepreneur Icon

Senator Orji Kalu’s unrivalled experience in the world of business will come in handy to solve the Nation’s economic problems I.e; Job and wealth creation.

Prior to joining politics, Kalu was a successful international businessman with interests in banking, oil, telecommunications, import financing, insurance, publishing, real estate, shipping and manufacturing.

He has business offices in Ghana, Benin, Sierra-Leone, South Africa, Togo, South Korea, Singapore, United Kingdom, United States, Gambia, Liberia, Botswana and Cote d’Ivoire.

Though a Forbes-rated billionaire with diverse business interests across the globe, what has made him who he is as a “people’s person” is not the enormous wealth he has or number of employees and those at his beck and call, but his great charm. 

In the business world, many refer to Kalu as a quintessential entrepreneur and global investor. 

Today, through hard work, innovation, sincerity and perseverance, Kalu has built a business empire with vast investments in oil and gas, banking, insurance, media and publishing, real estate, agriculture, aviation, hospitality, shipping, construction, manufacturing and others.

These business entities have on their payroll thousands of Nigerians and non-Nigerians. For Kalu, creating jobs and wealth are his calling.

The life and business ethics of Orji Uzor Kalu is really worth understudying. Here is a man driven by ambition and drive to maximize opportunities. Kalu is an entrepreneurial model worth emulating.

Leadership and Governance

Kalu did not venture into politics by chance but for his passion for genuine leadership, good governance and democracy. Kalu served as a member of the House of Representatives from 1992 to 1993 on the platform of the National Republican Convention (NRC) and held two key positions of Deputy Chairman of the Finance and Internal Affairs Committees. He moved for the famous Dual-Citizenship Rights Bill in the House of Representatives.

In 1998, Kalu alongside a few others founded the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Kalu solely made an initial donation of N100 million aside a loan of N500 million to the party at the formation stage. He won the governorship contest in Abia State in 1999 on the platform of the PDP. Kalu steered the affairs of the state from 1999 to 2007. The focus of his administration was health, sports, education, youth and women empowerment and roads among others.

In less than six months of assuming office, most of the major roads in Umuahia and Aba, including Azikwe, Park, Market, East Street, Mosque and Ehi were fixed. This feat earned Kalu the nickname: “Action Governor.” It was given to him by the then President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, who, after taking a tour of the state, couldn’t hide his joy over what he described as the unprecedented transformation of Abia State within a short time.

It was also during Kalu’s administration that Enyimba Football Club of Aba won the Confederation of African Football Champions League in 2003 and 2004. The team was partly coached by Kalu, a football enthusiast, who not only supported national and international football clubs, but also encouraged sports development at the grassroots.

During Kalu’s era as Abia State helmsman, salaries and wages were paid on or before 25th of every month, education was free, primary health was free, unemployment was low and above all, the state was peaceful. The remarkable, unbeatable and historic achievements of Kalu’s administration couldn’t have been possible without the judicious management of the slim resources of the state by the fine businessman.

Kalu, upon completing his tenure as Governor, with the support of the people of Abia and Imo States, threw his weight behind the candidacies of Chief T. A. Orji and Chief Ikedi Ohakim as Governors of the two states respectively on the platform of the Progressives Peoples Alliance (PPA) a political party he single handedly formed less than six months to the 2007 general election. Kalu brought to bear his political dexterity in ensuring victory for the duo of Orji and Ohakim. Kalu was the presidential standard bearer of the PPA in the 2007 general election.

During Kalu’s era as Abia State helmsman, salaries and wages were paid on or before 25th of every month, education was free, primary health was free, unemployment was low and above all, the state was peaceful. The remarkable, unbeatable and historic achievements of Kalu’s administration couldn’t have been possible without the judicious management of the slim resources of the state by the fine businessman.

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Kalu, upon completing his tenure as Governor, with the support of the people of Abia and Imo States, threw his weight behind the candidacies of Chief T. A. Orji and Chief Ikedi Ohakim as Governors of the two states respectively on the platform of the Progressives Peoples Alliance (PPA) a political party he single handedly formed less than six months to the 2007 general election. Kalu brought to bear his political dexterity in ensuring victory for the duo of Orji and Ohakim. Kalu was the presidential standard bearer of the PPA in the 2007 general election and came fourth with over six hundred thousand votes.

Kalu at the Ninth Senate

In the February 23, 2019 presidential and national elections, Kalu emerged the representative of Abia North Senatorial District on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC). In his victory speech, Kalu dedicated his victory to Abians and promised to work closely with everyone regardless of party affiliation in ensuring a robust and qualitative representation for the people of Abia North Senatorial District. 

Matching his words with Action, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu has since rolled out human impacting infrastructure projects, bills and Motions which has so exceeded the concomitant expectations of a first time Senator.

Aside from the numerous infrastructure works put in his Abia-North constituency, below are the list of Senator Orji Uzor Kalu’s bills and Motions at the National Assembly in line with his  Legislative agenda aimed at improving the lives of Nigerians and strengthening the tenets of the Nation’s Democracy.

BILLS

  1. A BILL FOR AN ACT TO AMEND THE ADMINISTRATION OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE ACT 2015 AND OTHER RELATED MATTERS BILL 2020. 
  2. A BILL FOR AN ACT TO AMEND COMPULSORY, FREE UNIVERSAL BASIC EDUCATION ACT 2004 TO PROVIDE FOR INCREASED FUNDING OF BASIC EDUCATION IN NIGERIA BILL 2021. 
  3. A BILL FOR AN ACT TO AMEND THE NATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL STANDARDS AND REGULATIONS ENFORCEMENT AGENCY (ESTABLISHMENT) ACT, 2007 TO PROVIDE FOR THE PREVENTION AND CONTROL OF ATMOSPHERIC AIR POLLUTION AND OTHER RELATED MATTERS THERE TO BILL 2021. 
  4. A BILL FOR AN ACT TO ESTABLISH THE ARMED FORCES SERVICE COMMISSION TO ENSURE THE FEDERAL CHARACTER OF THE ARMED FORCES PURSUANT TO CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISION OF SECTIONS 218.(4 ) AND 219 OF THE CONSTITUTION OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA AS AMENDED.,BILL 2021. 
  5. A BILL FOR AN ACT TO PRESCRIBE THE NUMBER OF JUSTICES OF THE COURT OF APPEAL BY INCREASING THE NUMBER TO ENSURE SPEEDY ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE.PURSUANT TO CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISION OF SECTIONS 237(2) (b}) OF THE CONSTITUTION OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA AS AMENDED BILL 2021, 
  6. NIGERIAN RAILWAY CORPORATION ACT, 1955 N129 LFN 2004 (REPEAL AND RE-ENACTMENT) BILL, 2021. 
  7. A BILL FOR AN ACT TO ALTER THE CONSTITUTION OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA 1999 (AS AMENDED) TO PROVIDE THAT THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AND THE STATE GOVERNMENTS SHALL HAVE CONCURRENT LEGISLATIVE POWERS ON RAILWAY, AND TO PROVIDE FOR MATTERS RELATED THERETO, 2021. 
  8. A BILL FOR AN ACT TO PROVIDE A LEGAL FRAMEWORK FOR THE MAINSTREAMING OF CLIMATE CHANGE RESPONSES AND GREEN ECONOMY INTO GOVERNMENT POLICY FORMULATION, IMPLEMENTATION AND THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE NATIONAL COUNCIL ON CLIMATE CHANGE AND FOR RELATED MATTERS, 2021. 
  9. A BILL FOR AN ACT TO ESTABLISH THE NATIONAL FOOD BANK AND TO PROVIDE FOR MATTERS CONNECTED WITH OR INCIDENTAL TO THE FOREGOING, BILL 2021.

MOTIONS

  1. URGENT NEED TO INVESTIGATE THE LOSS OF $9 BILLION DOLLARS ANNUALLY DUE TO THE ILLEGAL MINING AND SMUGGLING OF GOLD IN NIGERIA. 
  2. URGENT NEED TO RESUSCITATE AND RE-ACTIVATE THE REHABILITATION AND CONCESSION OF THE EASTERN RAIL LINE PROJECT. 
  3. NEED TO ENSURE SAFE HAULAGE VEHICLE OPERATIONS IN NIGERIA. 
  4. URGENT NEED TO REVITALIZE THE MARITIME SECTOR AND ENCOURAGE INDIGENOUS SHIPPING COMPANIES WITH A VIEW TO PREVENT THE LOSS OF OVER $17 BILLION DOLLARS ANNUALLY DUE TO DEARTH OF NATIONAL SHIPPING LINE. 
  5. NEED TO POWERING NIGERIA’S HEALTH CENTRES WITH RENEWABLE ENERGY . 
  6. URGENT NEED TO CONDUCT A VIABLE AND INDEPENDENT STRESS TEST ON THE GENERATION, DISTRIBUTION AND TRANSMISSION CAPACITIES OF THE POWER SECTOR. 
  7. URGENT NEED TO PROMOTE THE MENTAL HEALTH AND WELLBEING OF ALL NIGERIANS. 
  8. NEED TO AVERT AVIATION SECTOR LOSS OF 2 BILLION ANNUALLY TO CAPITAL FLIGHT. 
  9. NEED TO MAKING WATER SAFETY AND SWIMMING A PRIORITY THROUGHOUT NIGERIA ESPECIALLY AMONG OUR YOUTH. 
  10. NEED TO HARNESS ENTREPRENEURIAL CREATIVITY AND INNOVATION AS A TOOL FOR POST COVID NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT IN NIGERIA. 
  11. NEED TO INVESTIGATE THE NON-PAYMENT OF 7 BILLION US DOLLARS FROM NIGERIA’S FOREIGN RESERVES DISBURSED TO 14 GLOBAL ASSETS MANAGERS BY CBN SINCE 2006. 12. EXIGENT NEED THAT THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT INTERVENES THROUGH THE REHABILITATION AND AUGMENTATION OF RURAL WATER SCHEME TO MEET THE WATER DEMANDS AND SANITATION CHALLENGES PRESENTLY IN ABIA NORTH SENATORIAL DISTRICT. 
  12. URGENT NEED FOR BANKING INFRASTRUCTURE AT ABIA NORTH SENATORIAL DISTRICT OF ABIA STATE. 
  13. URGENT NEED TO IMPROVE FUNDING OF RESEARCH AND INNOVATION IN NIGERIA IN THE POST COVID19 ERA WITH A VIEW OF PROTECTING NIGERIA’S ENTREPRENEURIAL FUTURE. 
  14. URGENT NEED TO PREVENT AND DISCOURAGE OPEN BURNING OF SOLID WASTES AND OTHER ENVIRONMENTAL HARMFUL PRACTICES IN VIEW OF THE ATTENDANT DANGERS POSED BY CLIMATE CHANGE AND COVID19.

Currently there are over 15 other Bills Sponsored by Senator Orji Uzor Kalu undergoing various stages of review at the National Assembly.

For the 61 year old young politician, who served two times as Governor of Abia state. Orji would likely have the support of many northern elites. Because of his superlative experience in Governance and cordial relationship with the North, he has built unbeatable relationship investments in the North to cement his relationship with the region.

Issa Ibrahim writes from Maiduguri 

About Wisdom Nwedene 9271 Articles
Wisdom Nwedene is a seasoned investigative reporter and a Senior Correspondent at 9NEWS NIGERIA. He is currently an editor @9News Nigeria and also a social media strategist, writer, freelancer. Wisdom Nwedene has also interviewed many top Nigerian celebrities and Politicians. Contact me via : 07034977317 .To always get our news update on WhatsApp, call or text 'add me' to, 07034977317 or send me message via Facebook : Wisdom Nwedene(https://www.facebook.com/wisdom.nwedene) Share your story with us: +234703497 7317 ( Call & SMS only) Email: Nwedenewisdom@gmail.com

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