A former Governor of Abia State, Orji Kalu, has said his clamour for a president of Igbo origin in Nigeria in 2015 is not based on the platform of any political party.
Mr. Kalu, at different fora in the United States of America last week, said to achieve the lofty aim, it has to be beyond the confines of a political party, hence the formation of a non partisan political movement, the Njiko Igbo.
He said it has thus become imperative for all Igbo sons and daughters, home and abroad, to unite behind the Njiko Igbo for the realization of the objective of having, for the first time in Nigeria, an elected president of South-East origin.
A statement by his Special Adviser, Oyekunle Oyewumi, quoted Mr. Kalu as saying: “I am playing the role of protem coordinator of Njiko Igbo for the unity of our region in particular and Nigeria as a whole, using this platform to bring Igbo sons and daughters together irrespective of their political affiliations and associations.”
Mr. Kalu, who spoke first at a dinner in his honour by Yoruba professionals at the residence of Chris Ogunrinde in Charlotte, North Carolina, added that as a person charged with the noble role of coordinating the aspirations of the Igbo and reaching out to others regions, he needed to be neutral by not associating with any political party at this point.
Mr. Kalu said: “I need to be neutral at all levels in achieving a unifying platform for this laudable project.
“However, we are ready to support any political party that zones its presidential ticket to the South East, which is in line with our cardinal objective.
“We have many qualified and dynamic people who have both the technical expertise and wealth of experience in the private and public sectors that are fit to occupy the position of Nigeria’s president.
“We have people who have excelled in the academia, business, politics and philanthropic areas of life among others and have contributed positively to economic growth of the country.
“Those are the people we need to look at and put forward our best foot in 2015.”
Responding, Mr. Ogunrinde applauded the commitment of Kalu in promoting unity in Nigeria.
Mr. Ogunrinde described him as a bridge builder with network of contacts beyond boundaries.
He acknowledged the support of Igbos in voting en masse for the late Chief M.K.O. Abiola and Chief Olusegun Obasanjo in the 1993 and 1999/2003 presidential elections, promising to mobilize Nigerians in the USA to support the move for a president of South East origin.
At another parley with a cross section of Igbos in the USA, Kalu passed across the same message, soliciting for support for the project.
A. Eze, a Consultant Surgeon, who spoke on behalf of others, pledged their unalloyed support to the Igbo cause.
Mr. Eze stated that Igbos have contributed immensely to the development of Nigeria in all ramifications and deserve to be given the opportunity to lead the country.
Also commenting at the event, Abdullahi Umar, poured encomiums on Orji Kalu.
Mr. Umar went down memory lane on the selfless fight of Mr. Kalu when he held sway as the president, Student Union Government of the University of Maiduguri, Borno State.
He commended him for declining the offer by the school authority to pardon him alone during the protest of the SUG that led to the rustication of the students’ leaders unless everyone involved was pardoned.
Drawing from his actions from his school days to his experience in the private and public sectors, Mr. Umar admonished Mr. Kalu to contest the presidency in 2015.
He acknowledged his role in building the PDP with the likes of Alex Ekwueme, Ibrahim Babangida, Atiku Abubakar, late S.M. Afolabi and Aliyu Gwarzo among others and also the Progressive Peoples Alliance, which have both produced political office holders.
In another development, Mr. Kalu was a guest at the anniversary dinner of the North Carolina chapter of the Jewish National Association, where he thanked them for their support and sought for the strengthening of cordial relationship with Nigerians.
Orji Kalu stated that by identifying the challenges, developing responses and delivering support and strength, both could make the world a better place for us all.
The association said it was delighted to have Nigerians grace this year’s anniversary dinner and promised to extend the same invite next year.