Kalu opined that the problem of leaders in the South East lies in their disunity and their inability to stick together for the long run like those from other zones.
Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rep. Benjamin Kalu, has urged the leaders of All Progressives Congress (APC) in the South East to emulate President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, whose leadership style has produced more national leaders.
Kalu, who made the appeal Wednesday, when APC leaders from Abia State led by Senators Chris Adighije and Nkechi Nwogu paid him a courtesy visit in his office, said that despite several challenges the president may have faced with his mentees, they still remained together.
He therefore urged members of the ruling party and indeed, Igbo leaders in the southeast to unite as one and pursue their common destiny against all odds.
He said: “These are men and women of capacity that the state and nation needs. I’m most delighted to have you here. The realisation that we are all in this together, whether it’s in success or failure. There’s an Igbo adage that says “Onye ahala nwanne ya.” We can’t achieve any major milestone as a people without being together.
Our nemesis has always come when we believe we could be lone rangers. It doesn’t work, you will agree with me that it has never worked. The difference between our leadership and that of people from other jurisdictions is that we find it difficult to stick together for a long time.
That’s what differentiates us from others, who are playing politics in other jurisdictions. I’m sure you’re not in doubt, if you are in doubt, check President Tinubu’s team yesterday and today and tell me who has changed. Is it Femi Gbajabiamila, Fashola, I can go on and on, they know what it means to stay together for a long period.
Does it mean that all of them are saints in politics? Does it mean that nobody is offended in the course of politicking? The answer is no. The wisdom that has guided them to achieve what they are achieving today is the same wisdom that made them understand that a house that’s divided itself cannot stand and that progress is found in unity.
But if you do a comparative analysis, to check his contemporaries, I’m talking about the president of the country, it will be easy for you to spot the difference immediately. Like they said here, “Use your tongue to count your teeth” But things are about to change.
Nobody here knows who the sun will shine on tomorrow, so, in this wisdom when you are lucky to have it shine on one of your own, treasure its pleasure and maximize it, it might be your turn tomorrow. And we should rally around you. You have done well by coming today to rally around this sun that’s shining now. It will make it brighter and stronger.
We must therefore continue to push and together we shall overcome. Please push for more unity. I like the way spoke, go into reconciliation, open the windows and doors, let’s embrace people, that’s the spirit of togetherness, the spirit of democracy. With this mindset, I guarantee you, we will achieve a lot soon.”
The Deputy Speaker further expressed his gratitude to Tinubu for running an inclusive government that had given the southeast a sense of belonging, also appreciated the role of the former speaker of the House, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila in his emergence as the deputy speaker of the 10th House.
“Let me not forget to thank the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, our party leader, who knew the Southeast has never had any position among the high-ranking leaders of the country for 8 years, even though the Southeast did not give him the greatest votes that will make him give us what we are asking for.
He was magnanimous enough in victory to consider the South East as a region that needed to be part of the leaders of this country. I also want to thank my mentor in the parliament. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila. Without him I will not be sitting on this seat today. There were so many reasons for me not to be on this seat but like his own mentor, Asiwaju defended him whenever they came to attack him in his absence.
Gbajabiamila defended that he was looking for a man that has capacity and content and character out of the South East, and he saw one in Benjamin Okezie Kalu. And I thank my constituents for believing in me and elected me to be back here. If they didn’t vote for me from Bende Federal Constituency, the nation will not see that there’s a diamond hidden underneath the earth,” he said.
Earlier in his remarks, the leader of the delegation, Senator Chris Adighije said their mission was to congratulate Kalu and beckon him to assume the leadership of the party in the South East.
“I have come in total support of Abia Leaders of Thoughts in APC across the entire State. We have come with a heart full of joy to congratulate our special son. For me to get out of my place at my age to come and see my son, my special son with an age difference of about 40 years, it means right from home, we are proud of you. I want to recall your first day in the House of Reps in June 2019, you didn’t quite settle down and you moved a motion. You didn’t spend 5 minutes and you moved a motion and two weeks later you became a Chairman of a Committee.
You have already been created for greatness and above all, this greatness has come to you because you are a child of God. We were waiting patiently for the main party structure to come. But we the elders, custodians, and people who have the interest of this party decided to come now. These are the elders and the stakeholders and the people who want the survival of our party. We are here.
We are here to pledge our support because you now hold a position of responsibility and trust. Charity begins at home. So, whatever has happened in Abia, we are here to ask you to quickly do the needful. So that, Abia, all of us will come together.
We are all here to plead with you and we know you are a man of action to build bridges across the lines in Abia and indeed, south east. So that Abia State and indeed the rest of South East will take what is rightfully their own.
We cannot talk about marginalisation anymore with you as deputy speaker because you are a goal-getter. Very soon, ministers from the southeast will emerge. Please, put everybody together so that we develop a very strong party in Abia so that in the next election, we will the number one. That is a task I believe you can do.
There will be no fractionalization. Everybody must come together. Please, consult widely with the ministers, with people who have positions, and with all of us even right at home, build a stronger party in the entire southeast.
We believe as soon as the ministers come on board, we are looking forward to calling a Summit Meeting of all of you so that we can plan the way forward for APC in the southeast, along with the governors. This is our prayer. But of course, don’t forget that charity begins at home. Abia must come first. Abia must take its rightful position. You see your friends here. Make sure they are properly positioned for APC to become the leading party in the southeast. We don’t want the other parties anymore.”
The highlights of the meeting, which had other APC stakeholders such as Chief Sam Nkire, former Speaker of Abia House of Assembly, Stanley Ohajuru, former Minister of State for Science and Technology, Chief Henry Iko; ex-member of the House of Representatives, Samuel Onuigbo, former National PENCOM Commissioner, Chief Anyim Nyerere amongst others were the decoration of Kalu in an Igbo traditional attire, a gift of bible and machete, which the stakeholders said symbolises strength.