Former governor of Abia State and Chief Whip of the Senate, Orji Uzor Kalu, has refuted the allegation that he betrayed his people by supporting the presidential ambition of the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan.
Kalu who is from the South East recently withdrew from the 2023 presidential race and pitched his tent with the Senate President, who is from the North-East.
His decision was later criticised by elder statesman, Edwin Clark, who claimed that he (Kalu) betrayed his region by openly supporting Lawan.
Reacting to the allegation, via a statement shared on his Facebook, the former governor asserted that the South-East cannot get the ticket of any party in an open contest, except a gentleman’s agreement to concede it to the region is formally agreed.
Kalu went on to commend the elder statement for openly identifying with the South-East in their quest to become the president, but insisted he did not betray his people
He said, “I want to sincerely commend him for openly supporting the South-East geopolitical 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 who said he has great respect for Clark as an elder statesman and a patriotic Nigerian, however, queried the sincerity of his support, stating that it is coming too late.
He also said he was shocked that Clerk’s zone has the highest number of contestants despite the level of support they got from the South-East in 2011 and 2015.
He added, “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, knowing full 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 to 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’s agreement to concede it to the South-East.”
The chief whip of the Senate wondered why he (Clerk) singled him out but didn’t say anything when politicians from South West and South-South were purchasing forms to contest the 2023 presidential race.
He also asserted that his people are aware of the antics of the other zones in the south to take their turn, as he argued that southerners who refused to support the aspiration South-East are the real betrayers.
“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 the 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 to take the turn of the South-East. If you meant well for the South-East, you could have discouraged other aspirants from running for President. Nothing stops the South from supporting only presidential aspirants from the South-East. The betrayers are those who don’t care about the South-East. We are wiser.” Kalu concluded.