kalu-family-fete-lawan-63

From Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja

The Chief Whip of the Nigerian Senate, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu and his wife, Mrs Ifunanya Kalu, rolled out the drums on Wednesday, January 12, 2022, to honour and celebrate the President of the Senate, Senator Ahmed Lawan, who clocked 63.

The ties between Lawan and Kalu, a two-term former Governor of Abia State, has come a long way, a relationship Kalu once explained, dated back to their days in the University of Maiduguri where both top lawmakers were roommates in the university.

Notable personalities at the event were President Muhammadu Buhari who was represented by his Chief of Staff, Professor Ibrahim Agboola Gambari, and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha.

The event drew together, lawmakers cutting across party lines, both serving and former, that turned out in their large numbers to honour the Chairman of the National Assembly, including captains of industry, political titans, members of the academia, security chiefs, the diplomatic corps, among others.

Prominent among them were the Senate Leader, Senator Yahaya Abdullahi; the Senate Minority Leader, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe; former Governor of Imo and Kano States, Senators Rochas Okorocha and Kabiru Gaya; and former Deputy  Governor of  Ekiti State, Senator Biodun Olujimi.

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  The President of the Senate, Senator Ahmed Lawan (m),
flanked by his hosts, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu and wife, Mrs Ifunanya Kalu,
with members of the diplomatic corps.

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• Senate President Ahmed Lawan (L), the Chief Whip of the
Senate, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu (m) and the Chief of Staff to the
President, Professor Ibrahim Agboola Gambari.

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• The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha (L),
the Chief of Staff to the President, Professor Ibrahim Agboola Gambari (2nd L),
the Chief Whip of the Senate, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu (3rd L), Mrs Ifunanya Kalu (3rd r),
Senate Leader, Senator Yahaya Abdullahi (2nd r); and the Senate Minority Leader,
Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe (1st r) during the cutting of cake by Senator Lawan (m).

Also on ground to honour the Senate President were Senators Sadiq Umar, Albert Basil Akpan, Michael Nnachi, Aisha Binani, Mpigi Barri, Peter Nwaoboshi, Frank Ibezim, Osita Izunaso, Binta Masi Garba; Hon Benjamin Kalu, and Hon Obinna Chidoka.

The Clerk to the National Assembly, Ojo Olatunde Amos; the Deputy Clerk to the National Assembly, Bala Yabani; the All Progressives Congress (APC) National Women Leader, Stella Okotete; the Honourable Federal Commissioner of the National Commission for Refugees, Migrant and Internally Displaced Persons, Imaan Suleiman-Ibrahim, the Chairman of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, the Chief Judge of Abia State, Justice Onuoha Ogwe were also present.

Other dignitaries who graced the occasion were the immediate past Director General of the Department of State Security Services (DSS), Lawal Daura; former Chief of Staff, Abia State, Hon Mascot Uzor Kalu, former Minister of State, Federal Capital Territory, Chief Chuka Odom, legal luminaries, Chief Chris Uche (SAN), Solomon Akuma (SAN), Goddy Uche (SAN); notable businessmen, Obinna Iyiegbu (Obi Cubana), Charles Ahize, among others.

At exactly 7:49 p.m, the Senate Leader kickstarted the event with the Muslim prayer, while Hon Chidoka led the Christian prayer. They prayed for the peace and prosperity of the country, particularly in the New Year and equally thanked God for the life of Senator Lawan.

First to climb the stage to entertain the array of guests present was Christian Chimaobi Obasi, also known as KhrisBoi, followed by Vivvylee Dance Company and Phil, a professional dancer.

In his welcome address, Kalu appreciated the presence of the guests and said the event was hosted by his spouse to celebrate one of Nigeria’s finest politician, his friend, brother and roommate in the university.

Kalu disclosed that Lawan is a reliable ally of his family, saying that he will continue to celebrate Lawan all his life.

Kalu said: “Ahmed Lawan is not a man you people don’t know. He has set a standard in the Senate. He is a man that has brought a lot of reformation to the Senate. This reformation made us to appreciate him as a senator.”

Kalu who acknowledged that it was his first appearance in the Senate, further said from what he has witnessed so far, Senator Lawan has changed the calendar of the Senate to be business-like, adding that due to Lawan’s approach to Senate business, he has made the issue of procrastination, particularly in the area of the passing of the budget a thing of the past.

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Kalu added: “There is no more going to talk about we will pass the budget in May of 2022 when we have already passed the budget in December and it has been signed into law already by Mr President. I appreciate you as a person; I appreciate you as my boss.”

Kalu further said despite what the opposition would say, the APC is putting the country on a good rolling on where the nation should be. He also said President Buhari has laid an endurable foundation that will make Nigeria to benefit more.

In his remarks, Gambari, a former Minister of Foreign Affairs, said President Buhari directed him to represent him at the event because of other duties which made him unable to be present at the occasion.

Gambari also disclosed that President Buhari mandated him to deliver a personal message to Lawan and say few words about Lawan and congratulated Lawan for attaining the age of 63.

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Gambari said: “Not too young and not too old and some of us can speak about being too old. So, not too young, not too old and a ripe age of 63! So, to some, he is still a young man and to others, an old man. But I think he is in the median. And really, when we were growing up, life expectancy was about thirty-something years. So, to attain the age of 63 is no mean achievement and I want to on behalf of President Buhari, congratulate you. And he has asked me to also wish you many happy returns in good health.”

Gambari further said the second element of his message was to really, on behalf of President Buhari, express admiration for Lawan’s life achievements so far.

“You are not only a distinguish legislator, you were in the House of Representatives for several terms, in the Senate and before attaining the position that you now occupy as the third leading personality in this country in terms of protocol as the Senate Leader and the Chairman of the National Assembly. And in addition, you have found time in all of that to go and earn a Phd and taught in a number of higher educational institutions at the same time. So, you have been a legislator, an academic and a leader,” Gambari said while eulogising Lawan.

The former Nigerian Permanent Representative to the United Nations further said the third dimension of the president’s message was to commend Lawan for the very able manner in which he has steered the affairs of the National Assembly.

Gambari stated: “Some people assumed that the role of the legislative arm of government is to oppose government. That is not the President’s understanding. The National Assembly is an arm of government such as the executive is, just as the judiciary is. And that means the three arms are to work in a complimentary manner with each define roles, but in a complimentary manner. Therefore, in Mr President’s view, the kind of flare, the commitment, the passion, the constructive engagement with the executive under his leadership, the cooperation with the executive is a sign, not of weakness, but of strength because it is easy to be just critical, it is easy to be negative, but it is a lot more difficult and more challenging to have a constructive engagement and cooperate with the executive because the beneficiary of such constructive engagement, such cooperation is the nation.

“One of the achievements is that we now have a budget that runs from January to December and Mr President has just signed the Finance Bill and the Budget for 2022. So, the President really commends the way in which you have handled the affairs of the National Assembly and looks forward to many more cooperation under your leadership.”

In his personal capacity, Gambari said although he is relatively new to the job as Chief of Staff to the President, he has heard about, known and interacted with the Senate President and he was always impressed with his commitment, his passion and love for the country, attributes he said, Lawan shared with President Buhari.

While expressing President Buhari’s best wishes for a very happy, healthy and prosperous many years to come to Lawan, Gambari told the gathering of eminent personalities that President Buhari, by God’s grace, is determined that by the end of his tenure, he will leave Nigeria a more united, safer, prosperous and more just society.  

In his vote of thanks, an elated Lawan expressed gratitude to God for sparing the lives of all gathered at the ceremony to witness the auspicious occasion of his birthday celebration. “All praise goes to the Almighty God for this blessing,” Lawan said.

Lawan also thanked the chief host, Mrs Ifunanya Kalu and the deputy host, Senator Kalu who is fondly referred to as the Chief Whip of the Federation for the depth of the event.

Lawan went down memory lane to tell the guests present that the first time he met Kalu was in 1980 when they were admitted into the University of Maiduguri, very young and of course, thinking of contributing to national development after graduation.

According to Lawan, “Our paths kept on crossing and of course, today, we are in the Senate together serving our people and our country.”

Lawan noted that the country is in a situation whereby events such as the gathering were supposed to be subdued and very solemn because of what the country and the people are going through.

“We must continue to identify with the situation of our people; we must always keep them in mind that in whatever situation we are, we think about them. Ordinarily, events like this are supposed to be full of dances and of course, extremely joyous. But I want to commend the chief host for ensuring that we are not unmindful of the mood of our nation. And for us, this is our anthem – we breath about everything that our country is going through as Senators and as Members of the House of Representatives, and as a Government and the people of Nigeria.”

Lawan further said politicians across board must learn to arrive, achieve and sustain consensus on issues, saying “Our country first.”

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