Stakeholders of the All Progressives Congress in Abia State on Sunday met and formaĺly endorsed former Governor Orji Kalu, the Senator-elect for Abia North Senatorial District, for the Deputy Senate President position in the 9th National Assembly.
The meeting, which took place at Camp Neya, the country home of Kalu in Igbere, Bende Local Government Area of Abia State, also endorsed Rep. Nkiru Onyejeocha, representing Isuikwuato/Umunneochi Federal Constituency, for the Speakership of the House of Representatives.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the formal endorsement followed a motion moved at the meeting by Senator Chris Adighije, the Abia APC caucus leader.
He described the candidacy of Kalu and Onyejeocha as a collective project for all the party faithful, saying that everybody had a role to play toward its realisation.
Adighije, who represented Abia central from 2003 to 2007, promised to reach out to his friends in the Senate and House of Representatives to solicit their votes for the candidates.
He described the meeting, the first of its kind after the general election, as imperative to enable the party to do a postmortem of the party’s performance at the polls in Abia.
“There is need for a postmortem to enable us to examine the reasons why we lost the governorship election after putting all our efforts,” he said.
Adighije admonished the Chairman of the party, Chief Donatus Nwankpa, “to stand more firmly and resolute” in his actions.
He said as the chairman, his position at any point in time also represented the position of the party.
Onyejeocha spoke of the need for the party members to join the struggle for Ndigbo to produce Nigeria’s president in 2023.
“We need to produce the next president of Nigeria so that our fortunes will change,” she said.
She advocated that any APC faithful found to have worked against the interest of the party during the general elections should be made to leave.
Onyejeocha, who would be making her fourth term in the National Assembly, formally announced her ambition to run for the Speakership of the House.
“I am still in the race and hope to finish well,” she said.
In his speech to welcome the stakeholders to the meeting, Kalu said he learnt that some party members “sabotaged the party during the general elections.
“This should be investigated at the state, zonal and local government levels to ascertain those that allegedly worked against the party,” he said.
In his speech, the party chairman announced that the state executive committee had set up a five-member committee to examine the prospects of all the petitions filed by the party’s candidates at the tribunal to recover the stolen mandate at all levels of the elections.
“The party is now set to take up the responsibilities of members whose petitions have prospects, with a view to recovering our stolen mandates,” Nwankpa said.
He further said another committee was also constituted by the EXCO to assess the performance of the party at the polls and determine what went wrong.
He opined that the party’s performance might have been affected by the lack of patriotism and commitment by some members.
He said some candidates were suspected to have worked for the opposition during the polls.
Other speakers at the meeting, including the party’s Deputy Governorship candidate, Chief Martin’s Azubuike, and House of Representatives-elect, Benjamin Kalu, spoke on the need for all hands to be on deck to ensure that Kalu and Onyejeocha got elected as principal officers of the National Assembly.
Azubuke specifically charged party chieftains to begin to project the two candidates in good light through the media and avoid the “pull-him-down syndrome.”
Meanwhile, the party leadership has distanced itself from any list of nominees for political appointment purportedly sent by the state chapter of the party to President Muhammadu Buhari.
According to Nwankpa: “The purported list did not emanate from us, hence it should be regarded as fake.”
He said that the President had not requested for nominees from Abia and none was compiled or sent to Abuja.
In an interview with newsmen at the end of the meeting, Kalu said his greatest challenge in realising his ambition was the zoning of the principal offices by the APC national leadership.
He said: “My major challenge is zoning of the offices by the party leadership.
“This is why we are appealing to the leadership to have a rethink and consider the interest of Ndigbo for equity and fairness to prevail.”
Kalu further said that conceding some positions to Ndigbo would give the people a big sense of belonging and obliterate the feeling of marginalisation.