By IKENNA UWADILEKE
Abuja- The Chief Whip of the Senate, Sen. Orji Kalu, has said that he never betrayed the South-East in pursuing his political ambitions.
Kalu, in a statement he issued on Thursday in Abuja, reiterated his determination to continue to advance the Igbo cause.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that an elder statesman, Chief Edwin Clark had accused Kalu of betraying the Igbo cause by dropping his presidential ambition and supporting Senate President, Ahmed Lawan.
Clark said that although Kalu was one of the oldest vocal frontline politicians in the South-East, he doubted his sincerity and transparency.
The elder statesman added that it was surprising that Kalu did not only drop his ambition to contest the 2023 presidential election, but also declared his support for the presidential ambition of Lawan who hails from North-East.
Kalu, however, dismissed the accusation and said that rather he is doing his best to reintegrate the South-East into mainstream politics.
“I have great respect for Chief Edwin Clark; he is an elder statesman and a patriotic Nigerian. I want to sincerely commend him for openly supporting the South-East geo-political zone to produce the next president of Nigeria.
“It is imperative I remind him that I didn’t betray my people, rather I am doing my best to reintegrate them into mainstream politics.
“In the last two years, I have been at the forefront agitating for a Nigerian president of South-East extraction, when most of them were all saying “Southern Presidency”, Kalu said.
He argued that none of the actors openly said the South-East geo-political zone should have it.
“I was shocked that even the zone the entire South-East supported in unity including myself in 2011 and 2015 respectively, has the highest number of contestants without thinking of their brothers.
“This is knowing fully well that the South-East zone has remained the only zone in Southern Nigeria that has not produced the nation’s president since the rotation convention dispensation that began in 1999.
“Coming this late hour to support the South-East is rather suspicious to me if they couldn’t do it two years ago.
“The truth is, Chief Edwin Clark knows the South-East cannot get the ticket of any party in an open contest as it is today without a gentleman agreement to concede it to the South-East.
“If all the aspirants from the South-West and South-South cannot support their brothers from the South-East, it is only politically correct to support the North-East geo-political zone, which to me is the shortest route for the South-East geo-political zone to produce the president after their eight years instead of waiting for another 16 years.
“It is rather surprising to me that Chief Edwin Clark didn’t call the majority of other Southerners including governors working against the South-East to order or the names he called me.
“What did you say or do when all the aspirants from South-South and South-West were buying forms to run against South Easterners who have always supported them.
“I know some people want us to keep quiet and then allow other Southerners take turn of South-East. If you meant well for the South-East, you could have discouraged other aspirants against running for president.
“Nothing stops the South supporting only presidential aspirants from the South-East.
“The betrayers are those who don’t care about South-East. We are wiser,’’ Kalu said.
The former governor of Abia further told Clark that majority of the Southerners in his party, the Peoples Democratic Party were secretly supporting a North Easterner to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari.
“The welfare of my people is a passion that is driving me, I am not doing anything to advance my personal interest or seek personal glorification.
“I also lost my businesses fighting for the political interest of the Igbos. I cannot betray them now if I didn’t do it yesterday,’’ Kalu said. (NAN)