From Kenneth Udeh, Abuja
Following the refusal of the South-South and Southwest zones to support the emergence of an Igbo president from the Southeast, Chief Whip of the Senate, Senator Orji Kalu, has identified the Northeast as the only geopolitical zone that understands the pains nursed by the Southeasterners over their diminishing chances of producing the next president of Nigeria in 2023.
Ahead of the 2023 polls the Southwest and the South-South having produced Nigeria’s presidents for 16 and six years respectively have continued to receive backlashes over their negation to back Southeast’s presidential bid even as the region has never had a shot at the presidency since the advent of the Fourth Republic.
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Barring his mind on the development, the Senate Chief Whip has said that judging by the multiple presidential aspirants emanating from both the Southwest and South-South zones it is evident that both zones are insensitive to the political plight of their Southeastern brothers.
Kalu who is leading an aggressive campaign for the retention of power in the North over the South-South and Southwest’s rejection of power shift to the Southeast said that Northeast like the Southeast share similar fate because both regions have never enjoyed the support of their neighbouring zones to produce Nigeria’s presidents.
Speaking in Katsina State, where he joined frontline presidential aspirant of the All Progressive’s Congress, Ahmad Lawan, to canvass support of party delegates, Kalu told journalists that the Northeast is the only region who empathises with the grievances of the Southeast for being shut out of the presidential seat.
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“The two zones remain the only zones that are yet to produce a president despite having the most capable hands to govern the country.
“I believe in regional zoning and I will continue to repeat it as long as the issue of ‘equity, fairness and justice’ is concerned. My reason is not only because it worked in 1999 when all the parties zoned their presidential tickets to the Southwest, but because it is the only true definition of fairness and equity.
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clamour for the Southeast to produce the president after President Muhammadu Buhari was borne out of the enormous clamour and desire for the development and strengthening of our dear nation,” Kalu explained.
Reiterating his previous stance, the two-time former governor of Abia State maintained that anything less than Southeast must be Northeast, saying otherwise would be hypocrisy and wickedness.
Giving more reasons, Kalu said that the Southeast has given its full support to the Southwest and the South-South and when it got to the turn of the Southeast, the language changed to ‘power is not given, but taken’.
“In the absence of this clear non-agreement of the southern brothers to support zoning of the tickets to the Southeast, I wielded my support to the Northeast with the hope that justice is closer to the Southeast,” the lawmaker explained.
In his earlier remarks, Lawan, the presidential hopeful, stated that his aspiration is based on his capacity as a Nigerian who is qualified to be president and not as a northern aspirant as is being peddled in some quarters.
“I am not running as a northern aspirant because the impression created is that I’m a northern aspirant or that northerners are saying they are not going to allow power to the South.
“I’m not running as a northern candidate. I’m running as a Nigerian presidential aspirant and, therefore, I come with all my qualifications for that office and people should judge me on the basis of what I have to offer,” Lawan said.