….says what happened during Saraki era cannot be repeated
By Haruna Salami
As the race for principal officers of the National Assembly gathers momentum, the hope for a Senate President of Igbo extraction was rekindled Tuesday when one of the front runners for the plumb job, Orji Uzor Kalu said his team was in discussion with the Abdulaziz Yari group.
Speaking against the backdrop that he (Kalu) had stepped down after his party, the All Progressive Congress (APC) zoned the Senate Presidency to South South and micro zoned it to Senator Godswill Akpabio, Kalu dismissed it as rumour.
“I cannot step down for anybody. Yes, our group and that of Governor Yari are talking. We are in intimate partnership and talk because no one single zone can produce the Senate President; like I used to tell you people, no one zone can produce the President of Nigeria. It is the same thing.
“What we are trying to play with Senator Yari is a united partnership that works for Nigeria. In the coming days and weeks that partnership will be unveiled. I cannot deny that we are in serious talk.
“Yari is a friend of mine and I’m his friend. We have been talking for the past four weeks and that talk will be unveiled by our sponsors. He has his sponsors, I have my sponsors. The sponsors will come together to decide what direction this partnership will be. I will be very happy to follow what the sponsors will say and Yari will be happy to follow what the sponsors will want us to do.
The Chief Whip of the Senate said he and Yari are two gentlemen, adding neither of them is lacking in anything. “We are only thinking of the integrity of the Senate and to support President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Vice President Kashim Shettima who are our colleagues.
“If you press people are thinking of what happened during Saraki could happen, it will never happen again in Nigerian political life. Remember, we cited a section of the law that there must be 2/3 of the senators before you are sworn in.
“So, few people going to sit somewhere and make a Senate President is no longer fashionable. What is fashionable is that all of us will sit together and we will vote for those we want. It is a contest; we will be able to congratulate the person that win and if we win they should congratulate us. We are colleagues, not enemies. We will stay together in the next four years.
Kalu said they have a very good relationship with senators-elect, but they are not making noise about it.
“You can see, if anybody wants to use the press, we have the largest press, but we decided to go under. Yari, I and other people behind us are working.
“We have very strong sponsors and we will unveil this on June 13. People will see what we are unveiling. We will not disappoint Nigerians. We are capable of representing ourselves – Yari/Kalu, Kalu/Yari. We will give Nigerians what they want and we will support the Federal Government.
At the moment, it is not clear, between Kalu and Yari who will be the Senate President and who will be the Deputy Senate President. According to Kalu, it will come out in the days and weeks because they have sponsors backing them and those backers are in serious talks. “They will inform us in the coming weeks. We are not greedy about it. It will not be a problem who becomes what. We are going to face reality on table. The most important thing is to have an independent legislature that will serve Nigerians well and will represent the interest of our colleagues senators-elect who will be senators by then.
“The message is very clear, we are ready, we are prepared. We have a new father of the nation, Bola Ahmed Tinubu and deputy father of the nation, Kashim Shettima. They are both our colleagues; both of us have been governors like them, both of us have and the constitution been in the Senate like them. They know the name of the game and we know the name of the game and we will play to the tune of Senate rule.
Kalu who was excited that Nigeria transited from one civilian government to another without rancour expected the newly inaugurated President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to look into the issue of abandoned projects like Ajaokuta Steel Project, Alaja, Jos and Katsina rolling mills, which he referred to as “the source of our debt”.
He said one of his friends conducted a study and realized that there are over 11,000 abandoned projects in the country, which is taking our debt servicing.
“I will also like President Tinubu to tackle security challenges and know that some ministries and parastatal and no longer viable. If I’m in his shoes, Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs is no longer viable. We have Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) like we have the North East Development Commission (NEDC), they have no ministry. So, the Ministry of Niger Delta should be scrapped”.
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