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Thursday, 23 March 2023 12:59

[OPINION] Senators Orji Uzor Kalu to pull out all the stops for the 10th Senate Leadership - Ojo Emmanuel Ademola

Given the ongoing intense lobbying for the topmost position of the leadership of the 10th National Assembly among critical contenders, a periscopic incursion into the inner mind of the president-elect, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu (BAT) – at this time – will provide ample insights into whoever clinches/emerges the President of Senate between the duo of Senators Orji Uzor Kalu and Godswill Obot Akpabio. This is essentially so because the leadership quotient of the Senate (cum the National Assembly) is intricately tied to the overall performance (or otherwise) of the executive arm of government. Put in plain language: the Senate President must share/imbibe the mind, aspirations, vision, intents, goals, struggles, hope, aspirations, and desires of the Country’s president, and invariably, the such aspirant must possess distinct qualities that resonate with that of the executive president himself. Recall that in our earlier piece, we had narrowed the race for the Senate presidency between Senator Orji Uzor Kalu from the South Eastern (SE) zone, and Senator Godswill Obot Akpabio from the South-South zone based on the rotational guiding principles of the ruling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC). Our prognoses had affirmed Senator Orji Uzor Kalu as the most favoured of the duo premised on several predetermined considerations and centrally considered variables. But are the stated leadership propositions in tandem with those of the president-elect? In other words, can we infer that the quality highlights of the prospective candidate (Senator Orji Uzor Kalu) tally with the inner recess of BAT to see through his projected ‘2023 Renewed Hope Agenda’?

For one, Asiwaju Tinubu is a great mind, an exemplary visionary leader, one with a deep-rooted passion for a progressive, prosperous and united Country, and it follows that whoever must drive the leadership of the National Assembly should key into such belief. From all intents and purposes, the visionary’s quest readily throws up Senator Orji Uzor Kalu (OUK), representing the Abia North Senatorial District of Abia State under the platform of APC, as the most qualified, among other prospective contenders for the coveted seat. Remember that both aspirants are astute and consummate democrats of high capacities among their exceptionalities. Nonetheless, viewed from the prisms of the need to maintain the balance of political power, and ensure a sense of inclusion among the ethnic groups in the Country, the choice of Senator Orji Uzor Kalu would seem a perfect fit for many reasons. Oozing from the political barometer of Nigeria’s temperature, the stakeholders from the five (5) States of South East zone have been obviously in a state of flux, anxiety, and despondency sharing in the Country, and their concerns need to be addressed with a view to enhancing further democratic deepen of Nigeria’s growth and development. The incoming administration of Asiwaju BAT, against the need to correct the perceived anomalies in the marginalisation of ethnic entities in the polity, it’s apt to streamline the power-zoning of the critical positions of the ruling party to address injustice, unfairness and inequality. And in consideration of this proposition, the South East zone, like the other afflicted ones, deserves the slot of the Senate President as a compensation balancing trophy. Ensuring my hand on my heart, visionary leadership will naturally resolve the nagging issue of national balancing before advancing into other critical areas of governance to fulfil the balancing stand of progressive governance body of knowledge for robust service delivery and delivery of dividends of democracy to all Nigerians. It’s reasoned that once the Eastern-necessity propositions are imbibed by the cross sections of political players (North and South), the search for the most qualified, experienced, resourceful, devoted and committed team player from the zone becomes easier to accomplish, and it’s within this context that the candidature of Senator Orji Uzor Kalu for the Senate Presidency is x-rayed and positioned.

Two, the president-elect is known for assembling a quality Team, and weighting the variable in support of the most qualified and best possible choice for the coveted position of Senate President of the coming dispensation, distinguished Senator Kalu stands taller above others as the most qualified of his peers. His progression from current Senate Chief Whip makes it logical as the 4th highest ranking Senator from the South East, and has served as a two-term tenure Executive Governor of Abia State from May 29, 1999, to May 29, 2007 (the same period that the president-elect served at the State level) gives him added advantage to appreciate the dynamism involved in leading a vibrant and complimentary National Assembly. A seasoned private sector guru, it is equally important to take into account his successful first term as the Senate Chief Whip of the 9th National Assembly, which earned him the respect of his peers, most notably the Senate President, Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan, who considered him “the most influential Chief Whip in the history of the Nigerian Senate”.  Hence, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu is definitely the most qualified and best possible choice.

Three, the coming Administration would need to hit the road running in terms of a series of tasks of governance, and such requires support from the legislative arm with sterling leadership qualities. Achieving success of tasks before an assemblage of distinguished legislators with varied idiosyncrasies dwells more on the character of exemplary leadership which must have been acquired for service. Throughout his political career, Senator Kalu has led by example, articulated his vision (and realised it), demonstrated integrity, made hard decisions, communicated effectively with his fellow lawmakers, empowered his subordinates and constituents, and been a source of inspiration and motivation for those around him. He has also displayed tremendous leadership and has always backed up his words with action. Senator Orji Uzor Kalu’s achievements in public office over the years speak volumes and his unwavering commitment to good governance and a better Nigeria is irrefutable. These are attributes that would ensure his success in this role.

Four, political pedigree is yet another major determinant variable for consideration in pitching a tent over a sensitive position of a would-be Senate President. The BAT’s Team understands that the position of Senate leadership requires a personality with demonstrable political sagacity, capable of navigating the rough waters of Nigerian sociopolitical and cultural diversities. As mentioned earlier, there aren’t many politicians and public office holders with the pedigree and vast array of accomplishments of Senator Orji Uzor Kalu in this regard. The position of the 10th Senate President requires a politician with considerable experience in governance and lawmaking. All of these qualities he possesses in spades along with the fundamental tools to thrive in the role.

Five, the senatorial experience required for the tasks ahead is a major factor that the president-elect would be considering in pitching his tent with any candidate for the position of Senate leadership. The distinguished Senator Kalu has made giant strides in the legislative practice to affirm his first-among-equal status for the position. During his first Senatorial term which began on June 11, 2019, he remarkably sponsored 51 bills and 28 motions, making him the highest-rated among lawmakers from Abia state. Similarly one of the best performing and most highly regarded Senators in the country. As a further step towards crowning his senatorial gains, the foremost aspirant for the Senate president position has ensured the democratic dividends in his District by way of infrastructural development. Senator Kalu’s immense contribution to the infrastructural development of his Senatorial district, Abia North during his first four years in office, cannot be invalidated. He has undertaken several projects in that region such as the construction of roads, and the renovation of schools and hospitals. Other projects include the installation of street lights, sinking boreholes, supply of equipment to local farmers, and processing machines for local farm produce. The aspiring Senator continues to empower people in his constituency, particularly the youth and remains committed to more developmental projects in his second term.

Five, leadership comes with its concomitant price of being courageous, bold, and reliable at the critical time of reckoning. Asiwaju Tinubu understands these variables very well because they resonate with his personality. For Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, these qualities are most obvious through his unwavering support for Tinubu’s campaign immediately the APC declared Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu the party’s Presidential Aspirant for the 2023 Elections.  Senator Kalu has been the most prominent and consistent voice of support for Asiwaju Tinubu, especially in the South East. This support has been even in the face of public scrutiny, ridicule, and backlash from the media, and opposition from rival parties as well as within his party. Rather than buckle under immense pressure, he remained brave and steadfast in backing the President-elect. It’s the pay-back time in terms of Asiwaju machinery’s support for Kalu’s ambition. And understanding the leadership personality of BAT, Senator Kalu can be assured of being an ally in the president-elect for his senatorial strive.

Six aside from the earlier variables of prognoses listed, a contender for the outstanding position of the Senate President (like the President of the Nation) must necessarily come to the field with nationalist and detribalized credentials. In becoming the president-elect, BAT has demonstrated exemplary winning traits in progressive governance and far-exceeding Apt, and nothing less is expected of the would-be President of the Senate. Senator Orji Kalu is known for his detribalized mindset. His name has a high degree of National appeal from all geopolitical zones, and he has repeatedly displayed a willingness to work with all Nigerians. And being the nationalist, he would also prove most beneficial in stabilising and unifying all Senators regardless of their respective ethnic backgrounds, states/regions of origin, and party differences.

Seven, just like the president-elect, being resourceful and pragmatic are sine-qua-non to holding forth the realms of affairs at the Senate, and by purposes and intents, the aspirant possesses the qualities. Orji Uzor Kalu is the chairman of SLOK Holding, a successful business endeavour. Pragmatism and resourcefulness qualities are among his greatest strengths. He is a man with the Midas touch, a captain of industry who has investments in many areas including the media – he owns the Sun and the Telegraph newspapers. I dare say that, a tested and trusted vessel like Senator Kalu fits the bill for a presumably marginalized geographic zone of our vibrant compatriots from the eastern front. Similarly, his experience in the private sector will help sustain a workable national development plan for Nigeria.

Conclusively, the prognosis of guessing the president-elect’s choice of a Senate leadership revolves around, among other propositions, a cerebral personality who can play the balancing act in a delicate political environment like Nigeria at this critical time; a personality with patriotic zeal for unifying the diverse nation; a team player who gets tasks achieved with minimal delay, and an experienced legislative player who is never a rookie. All these attributes are found in Senator Kalu, a ready-made tool needed to deepen democratic experimentation as Senate President for the convocation of the 10th National Assembly. For certainty, Senator Kalu is amendable, dependable, reliable, and dogmatic not to rock the boat of governance for the Asiwaju Tinubu/Shettima Administration.

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