Posted by By JAMES OJO, Abuja, JACOB EDI, Abuja, JOE EFFIONG, UYO on
South-South caucus of the House of Representatives on Wednesday reacted angrily to the statement credited to Niger State governor, Engr. Abdulkadir Kure, that the zone lacks serious contenders for the presidency slot in 2007.
South-South caucus of the House of Representatives on Wednesday reacted angrily to the statement credited to Niger State governor, Engr. Abdulkadir Kure, that the zone lacks serious contenders for the presidency slot in 2007. This is even as the South South People Assembly demanded an apology from the governor.
Governor Kure has, however, said that he was misquoted, adding that he only referred to Rivers State governor, Dr. Peter Odili.
A newspaper had quoted Governor Kure as saying that “none of the politicians from the South-South jostling for the presidency in 2007 can be considered a serious contender for the nation’s number one job.”
The statement, coming at a time South South zone feels that it should produce the next president, following the collapse of the agenda to extend the tenure of President Olusegun Obasanjo, inscensed the House caucus which said that such reckless statement smacked of arrogance and insensitivity and capable of igniting fresh crisis in the Niger Delta region.
“Kure as an engineer and executive governor for that matter should be above board and as such should not be flippant with his tongue. His pronouncement is indeed very satanic and would meet with very severe reactions if he continues to cast aspersion on the people of the South-South zone vis-a viz their struggle to produce the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in 2007,” the chairman of the South- South caucus in the House, Hon Esio Udoh, said.
The caucus warned that the insult heaped upon the people of South-South by Governor Kure would be the last the zone would tolerate from any quarter.
“Let it be stated clearly that this is the last attack on our South-South leaders that would be treated lightly, as we are only calling for justice, equity and fair play in our quest for the Presidency in 2007,” Hon Udoh warned.
Governor Kure was challenged to be bold enough to name past presidents, heads of state and prime minister of the country since 1960 whose pedigree, antecedents, educational profile and moral well being are higher than South-South leaders.
Also reacting, the leadership of the South-South Peoples Assembly (SSPA) asked Governor Kure to apologize to the South South.
It also emphasized that the zone’s desire to produce the next president was unshakeable.
Senator Aniete Okon told a news conference in Abuja that the South South has “far more credible candidates than those Kure represent.”
The South-South zone candidates, according to Okon, have more understanding of the country as well as what is required “to lift the country from its present state of rot in which some of Kure’s sponsors left it,” adding: “We need not remind the governor that Nigerians have not forgotten our recent past.
“If the only credentials that Kure has in mind is a career in the military or having led the country before, then he lives in a stone age. They are no longer advantages, for we are witnesses to the sort of havoc this background has wreaked on this nation,” Okon stated.
Recent events, according to Okon, have shown that the so called political sagacity of the North is only a myth, “so is the illusion of higher numerical strength.”
Meanwhile, Kure has denied that he called South-South politicians underdogs who are not supposed to take part in the 2007 presidential race. He said he was only referring to Governor Peter Odili of Rivers State.
“Nobody in his right senses will say there is no qualified person for the office of the president of Nigeria from the South-South.
“I’m sitting close to one (Attah) that I see is very much qualified. There are a thousand and one persons that are qualified in the South-South. Let me try to say what I said to the journalist that interviewed me.
“We were seated in a very casual manner and then he did say that the president is planning to have somebody from the South-South; and that person is the governor of Rivers State and that whether we like it or not the governor will be the person that my party, the PDP, will present at the next election. That’s why I responded to him that I don’t think that my colleague (Odili) had the right reach for that (to be the president).
“But definitely, maybe, we have more persons from South –South qualified to rule this country than in other parts of the country. I’ve said that, and I’m not denying the fact that the governor of Rivers State hasn’t the right reach to be the president of Nigeria.”
Asked what he meant by the right reach, Kure explained; “To be a president you must be acceptable; you must know people; people should accept you all over the country; you must have people who can do things for you.
“For somebody to be the president of this country he must have the right clout. If it were in the developed country, you would have known the people that qualified, but in a country like Nigeria, you must have all the attributes that can make one a success as a leader.”
Kure said he visited Gov. Attah as his “friend and colleague; and if this will go a long way in helping what you’re saying, (IBB’s presidential project) why not?”
Kure had earlier praised Attah for embarking on three gigantic projects – five-star hotel, independent power plant and the international airport, reasoning that it was only a visionary leader who would want future generations to benefit from the state’s resources that would initiate such long-term projects.
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