Orji Kalu, optimism and 2023 poll

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By Emmanuel Onwubiko
The hottest topic in town right across the length and breadth of Nigeria is the presidential election scheduled to come up in the first quarter of the year 2023. Discussions on the right qualities required of the good leader who should get the mandate of the electorate to become the successor to President Muhammadu Buhari on May 29th 2023 has however not occupied the front burner which in itself is very disappointing.

Political debates and intensed conversations have ensued on who is making declaration to contest  as soon as it became clear that the incumbent president is in no way nursing subterranean ambition to self succeed in 2023 when he is due to leave office at the expiration of his second and final tenure in office.

Understandably many top flight Nigerians have shown interest to run as president next year and amongst those who have indicated their interest to contest but are yet to openly declare is the chief whip  of the senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the senator representing the good people of Abia North senatorial zone Senator Orji Uzor Kalu.

He gave his clearest indication to contest for the office of the president of Nigeria soon after the former governor of Lagos State Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu met President Muhammadu Buhari and made public declaration of his intention to run for the office of the president in the year 2023 presidential election. Ebonyi State Governor David Umahi has also jumped into the fray by paying a visit to President Muhammadu Buhari to take permission to contest as his successor.

The former secretary to the government of the federation and former senate president who is a prominent member of the People’s Democratic Party Senator Anyim Pius Anyim has also declared his intention to contest for the top most political position in the largest black nation in the world. I learnt he too visited the President at AsoRock to inform President Muhammadu Buhari of his resolve to contest for the office of President. His visit was nocturnal and so wasn’t reported.
Both Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu and Senator Anyim Pius Anyim paid political pilgrimages to the Abuja residence of Nigeria’s current chief whip of the senate and former governor of Abia State- Senator Orji Uzor Kalu.

Also read: Orji Kalu to consider 2023 presidency if APC gives South-East region presidential ticket
The duo paid senator Orji Uzor Kalu visits to inform him as a prominent South East leader and a political stakeholder in Nigeria that they are gunning for the office of the president of Nigeria. The governor of Ebonyi State Dave Umahi who also met president Muhammadu Buhari to seek his blessing to run to replace him by next year, has also visited the Senate’s Chief whip where upon extensive discussions were held regarding the 2023 presidential election.
It is now clear that during those meetings with the aforementioned, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu did not disclose his ambition to contest for office of president. He has however been buffeted by massive pressures and public activities by his supporters who want him to declare to contest for the highest political office in the Land.

However, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu has come under considerable pressure from all across the Country to declare to run for the office of president of Nigeria. He had even been dragged before a Bauchi State High Court to compel him to declare.
He has just done that recently when he explained his meetings with Tinubu, Anyim and Umahi.
Chief Whip of the Senate, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu has revealed that he was motivated to declare his ambition to contest the 2023 Presidential election after elders from the six geopolitical zones of the country approached him to run citing his capability and experience.

Kalu said that though he had earlier told other Presidential aspirants like the former Governor of Lagos state, Bola Tinubu, former President of the Senate, Pius Anyim and Ebonyi state Governor David Umahi that he won’t contest, he had a change of mind shortly after due consultations coupled with the request by prominent National elders to join the contest.
The former Governor stated this in an exclusive interview with Silverbird Television on Friday morning, 21st January, the Senate Chief Whip also mentioned that his decision to contest was also hinged on his capacity and experience to turn around the economy of the country and fight insecurity.

He said; ” I didn’t want to join this contest before, when I met with Senator Tinubu I told him I was not running, when I also met with Governor Umahi I told him I was not running,when I also met with Senator Pius Anyim I told him I wasn’t contesting . Some couple of days after my discussion with them , elders from the West, elders from the North , the Southeast and Niger Delta  came to see me on the 5th of January (2022) and I also went to see a couple of them.

“I flew from my village to tour some places and I met with them in the North , West and somewhere in Lagos and Warri and I returned on the 8th back to Igbere, my home town and also met with the elders of my community and they said that it’s a possibility. And that is why I have not gone back to tell this people who I initially told that I will run that I am now going to run. I will still have a meeting with them and tell them formally that I am going to run for the president .”

Providing his response from media reports that he, in a recent interview, attacked Tinubu when he said he would contest against the APC chieftain for the party’s 2023 presidential ticket if zoned to the South.
Kalu clarified that both of them were not threats to each other’s ambition, he stressed that their relationship spanned for decades adding that their  friendship cannot be tainted by politics. Kalu however said he will give a good account of himself if eventually both of them contest the Presidential primaries.

His words; “No! No! Tinubu is not a threat to my ambition and I am not a threat to his ambition. We are very close friends and our friendship is deep rooted. When me and my wife went back to Abia as Governor , nobody was occupying my house in Victoria Island, Lagos . So my children were in school at that time and some were schooling at Corona schools while one was French International school in 1998 and they were living with Senator Oluremi Tinubu. So we are like a family and Politics cannot separate us.

“In 2003 when Tinubu waa seeking re-election I and I saw that he was lagging behind, I assisted him and it’s part of what caused my problem with former President Obasanjo. So we’re a family and we cannot quarrel because of politics. He might have his idea on how to do it and I might have my own idea on how to do it. But all I know is that if we meet at Eagle square I will give a very good account of myself.”

The Abia North lawmaker, had announced his intention and readiness to run for the office of the president in the 2023 general elections if his party, the All Progressives Congress zones the position to the South-east.
He (Orji Uzor Kalu) has also done something that is interesting. He has filed application asking his supporters that instituted a suit at the Bauchi State High Court on why he hasn’t declared to run for office of president for an out of court settlement.
Chief Whip of the Senate, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu had appealed to Mr. Aliyu Ladan, the supporter who took him to court for the delay in declaring his intention to run for office of the president in 2023 that he wants out-of-court settlement. Ladan says the former Governor has not honoured his agreement with some northern youths to declare his intention to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari. Recall that Senator Orji Uzor Kalu was sued by his supporters in Northern youths groups for his inability to declare his interest to contest for the position of the President of Nigeria in 2023. The case was filed by Comrade Aliyu Ladan and Lawan Abdullahi with suit number BA/331/2021 before Bauchi State High Court Number three, Presided over by Justice Mohammed A Sambo. Counsel to the defendant, Mouktar Abubakar Usman who spoke with newsmen shortly after the hearing said that his client, Uzor Kalu pleaded with the court for more time to enable him to settle the case out of court.

“What happened today is that the matter came up for the second time for hearing of the originating summons which was for interpretation of an agreement purportedly entered into by the plaintiffs and the defendant which is to the effect that the defendant had purportedly agreed to contest for the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria come 2023.
“They came in order to get the order of the court compelling him to contest for the office of the president. So, today we announced to the court that the defendant proposed for the settlement of the matter out of court and the court agreed with us to take a date for us to be able to sit down and see if we can settle the matter amicably and we have been given 17th of February, 2022 for a report of settlement,” he said. Meanwhile, counsel to the plaintiff, Auwal Ibrahim said that his client is prepared for settlement out of court if the defendant would declare his interest to become the president of the country. “The bone of contention is basically based on the agreement or understanding our client has with the defendant, that is Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, which he has not yet fulfilled. “Today, the matter was slated for hearing but because of the contact the defendant made with our clients, he is trying to employ the way and manner to resolve the matter amicably out of court, and the court graciously adjourned the case to 17th of February, 2022 for us to see a way of resolving the matter. “What my clients want is for the defendant to fulfil his part of the bargain to aspire for the presidency of this country and since, on his volition, he is asking for the matter to be resolved out of court, we will hear from him and after that, we are going to report to the court on the next adjourned date,” he said.

Like a politician who knows his qualities and his worth, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu has said he is not worried with the high turn over of presidential aspirants of Igbo extraction. This is because a Gold fish has no hiding place.
The Chief Whip of the Senate and Presidential aspirant, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu had dismissed insinuations that the emergence of multiple Presidential aspirants from the Southeast region will diminish its chances of producing the next President from Igbo extraction.
Speaking during a live interview on Silverbird Television on Friday morning, Kalu further rebuffed assertions that the trend indicated that the Southeast leaders were not united at forging a common front to produce the next President.
Making inferences at previous elections the former Governor explained that since 1999 no region had ever presented a single candidate before winning elections. He said that the belief that Igbos must come together to present a single candidate inorder to produce the next President of Nigeria were mere blackmails promoted by the media.
Giving examples, the ex-Governor recalled how former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Bola Ige and Olu Falae, all from the Southwest geopolitical zone of the country contested the 1999 Presidential election. Also,Orji Kalu also mentioned how both former vice President Atiku Abubakar and current President Muhammadu Buhari both from the Northern zone contested the 2019 General elections.
Explaining further, Kalu said that the beauty of democracy is based on the right of individuals to vie elective positions and for the electorates to make their choices based on the qualities of each aspirant.
Kalu however gave assurances that he and other aspirants from the Southeast were in good talks and maintained a cordial relationship, saying that they remained committed to the common goal of producing a Nigerian President from Igbo extraction.
He said; “No region forges a common front and I have just given you an example, when Obasanjo ran for elections in 1999, Olu Falae , Bola Ige and three other Yorubas were also contesting for the same Presidency, did that stop the emergence of a President from the Southwest? So what are you talking about ? It is the beauty of constitutional democracy, the more the merrier, people must contest and the people must choose who can do the job.”
“That Orji Kalu came to contest and another Igboman comes out does not mean you won’t vote Orji Kalu, the beauty of democracy is in the ability to make a choice. That is why I initially told my friends (Tinubu, Umahi and Anyim) that in the sitting room where we were eating that I won’t run but the beauty of it is that people later persuaded me to come and run because they know that I’m capable of doing the job.”

“They know that I have the experience of the job , they know that I have the local and international connection. They know I have an excellent understanding of the country. And when you look at me you see the face of Nigeria, Kalu concluded. ”
One good thing going for Senator Orji Uzor Kalu is that he possesses the top most qualities that are required of a good leader.
Brian Eastwood penned down a beautiful piece on the finest leadership qualities which supporters of the Chief whip of the senate of the Federal Republic believe that he is endowed with.
The author first asked if Leadership Qualities Innate and posited as follows: “You’ve probably heard the expression “born leader.” The phrase implies that the qualities that make a good leader are innate—you’re either born with the skills it takes to be a leader, or you’re not. And it’s true that certain traits tend to be innate—such as charisma, humility, and a sense of humor. However, two research studies—one study with male twins and another with female twins—found that only one-third of the variance in leadership qualities is associated with heredity.”
In other words, he argued that many key leadership qualities can be learned and improved over time, such as effective communication, goal-setting, and strategic thinking.
As a result of these findings, “the foundation of Northeastern’s Master of Science in Leadership program is that leaders can be developed,” says Teresa Goode, EdD, associate teaching professor for the leadership program at Northeastern University. The program emphasizes experiential learning, or the acquisition of knowledge through observation and experimentation in a professional setting, as a key method to help students develop critical leadership qualities. There is empirical evidence to demonstrate that the Senate’s Chief whip is one of the most versatile and experienced politicians of our milieu.
Exploring the topic of qualities of a good leader, the author aforementioned stated that many organizations, including higher education institutions like Northeastern, increasingly recognize the benefits of this approach and have put it to use to develop the leaders of tomorrow. “Instead of traits, our program is competency-based,” Goode adds. “We break these key competencies down to behaviors that students can observe, practice, and, get feedback on.”
Effective leaders he affirms focus on developing their emotional intelligence, Goode says. Leaders that work to refine this quality are more adaptive, resilient, and accepting of feedback from others. They are also effective listeners and open to change.
They (good leaders)  focus on developing others just as the author said this leadership quality builds on the principles of the situational leadership theory, which suggests that effective leaders adapt to whether an individual or group is ready, willing, and able to take specific action. Delegating, coaching, and mentoring are important tasks for situational leadership, Goode says.
On how You Can Improve to be the good leader that most organisations or nations want, the author said these behaviors will help you demonstrate leadership ability by developing others within an organization.
“As a leader, you have to look forward. You have to think about where the organization is going,” Goode says.
Leaders must consider internal organizational factors, such as product roadmaps and staffing needs, as well as external factors, including government regulations and technology advancement, when making strategic business decisions.
Strong leaders consider the ethical consequences of the decisions that they make—for both their customers and their teams.
Taking these behaviors into account will increase your awareness of ethical practice and civic-mindedness, which reflects personal concern for the benefit of your entire organization and the community as a whole.
Respected leaders the author submits are able to clearly communicate with individuals, business units, the entire company, and to stakeholders outside the organization. In an increasingly global economy, leaders must also acknowledge and respect different communication traditions, Goode says.
Practicing these behaviors aforementioned will help leaders increase the effectiveness of their communication, the expert submits.
There is no doubt that as a politician, persons who have held high public offices such as Orji Uzor Kalu, Anyim Pius Anyim have excelled. In the National ruling party today, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu is the most senior Igbo politicians and since the pendulum of the Presidency would inevitably swing towards the South by next year, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu is eminently qualified to run and his energy, enthusiasm and patriotic zeal are so very impressive that he will make a very good national leader of Nigeria. As an employer of labour, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu is an equal opportunity employer and a totally detribalised Nigerian. These qualities are much sought after in 2023 to once unify Niferians and infuse in them the patriotic spirit and love of fatherland.

  • EMMANUEL ONWUBIKO is a Political and media strategist and was federal commissioner of the NATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION OF NIGERIA.

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