With almost three months to the inauguration of the 10th National Assembly, the race for principal offices has begun with the Chief Whip of the Senate, Orji Uzor Kalu declaring his intention to contest for Senate president seat.
The former governor of Abia State who on February 25 was re-elected as Senator representing Abia North senatorial district made known his ambition while fielding questions from journalists at the National Assembly Tuesday morning.
As a ranking senator and member of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) with majority seat in the Senate, Kalu said he stands a better chance of emerging the next Senate President.
Though other APC senators are eyeing the position and report had it that they have already started lobbying their colleagues to seek support.
Prominent among ranking senators aiming the top parliamentary seat are; Sani Musa (Niger), Godswill Akpabio (Akwa Ibom), Barau Jibrin (Kano) and Dave Umahi (Ebonyi).
But the ruling party, APC yet to announce zoning of principal positions in the National Assembly as the National Chairman, Sen. Abdullahi Adamu at the weekend dismissed rumour of any pronouncement by the party.
Addressing the media, Kalu jokingly said in Yoruba language that “emi l’okan kan” meaning “it is my turn”.
He said he is well ready for the big task of leading the nation’s legislative arm if government based on his cognate experience in the executive arm as a two term executive governor of Abia State (1999 to 2007) and in the legislature as Chief Whip of the Senate in the winding 9th Senate.
Speaking further on his chances, he said though the party has not come out with a zoning arrangement, it is politically expedient that the number three position should go to the South East where he said he will be the most ranking senator.
With this, he dismissed the insinuation that he may expect a tough fight with the incumbent Ebonyi State governor, Dave Umahi should the position be zoned to the South East.
He said it a known fact in parliament that an exalted position like that if the Senate President can’t be left for a first term senator.
Kalu said his chances is further strengthened by being a Christian from the South East.
He stressed that it would be out of point for a Muslim senator to contend the position having both Muslim president and Muslim vice – president.
Definitely, he opined that the third highest political office should be occupied by a Christian. “So, a Muslim Senate President cannot work”, he said.
He said choosing a Christian Senate President would ensure balance in the polity and give other fate based religion a sense of belonging.
Promising a pan-Nigerian Senate that will further entrench the unity of the country, Kalu said “If I’m elected Senate President, I will be team Nigeria. I’m going to work for every corner of Nigeria.
“I schooled in Maiduguri, Borno State. I started my business in Lagos and spread it across all state capitals. My first name will be team Nigeria, my last name will be team Nigeria.
“Remember, I’m the only former governor who has never changed phone line more than 20 years ago.
“I’ll still be willing to maintain that telephone number to answer all my calls. I’m not going to switch off my phones because I’m Senate President.
“I’m hoping that Nigerians will pray for me to become Senate President because it’s my turn.”