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2007: No power of incumbency can stop the master strategist

Posted by By ISMAIL OMIPIDAN, Abuja on 2006/04/04 | Views: 759 |

2007: No power of incumbency can stop the master strategist


A chieftain of Ohaneze Ndigbo, Barrister Jude Ekwunife, has said that no power of incumbency can stop Governor Kalu of Abia State from actualizing his presidential ambition.

A chieftain of Ohaneze Ndigbo, Barrister Jude Ekwunife, has said that no power of incumbency can stop Governor Kalu of Abia State from actualizing his presidential ambition.

Speaking exclusively with Daily Sun in Abuja, shortly before the landmark decision on Anambra State’s political debacle, Ekwunife, who is the Secretary of the Igbo Socio-Cultural group in Anambra State, disclosed that the Ohaneze Ndigbo’s position on third term not withstanding, Kalu’s ambition still “remains intact.

“Well, Kalu’s ambition still remains intact and sacred just like the ambition of every Nigerian.
“People are confusing third term with automatic mandate to Obasanjo to continue ruling Nigeria.
“Obasanjo and third term are two different things entirely… everybody believes that Kalu is a determined good and qualified Igbo man. He is one of the leaders of the Igbo. People are proud of his courage. We identify with his clamour for the betterment and advancement of the Igbo race. He is one of the people who is qualified to rule this country. He is even better qualified than most of the people who are clamouring for the position.

“Kalu is a man with a midas touch. Whatever he touches turns into gold. It is the same thing through all his activities in life. If Kalu sets his mind as an Igbo man to be president of this country, no power of incumbency can stop that”, he declares.
He also spoke on Obasanjo’s and the third term agenda, the leadership crisis in the Ohaneze and the lessons to be learnt from the current travails of the former Anambra State governor, Chinwoke

Mbadinuju, among other issues. Excerpts:-
Before the 2003 general elections, there was a strong and sustained agitation for an Igbo presidency. But at the end, it turned out to be a flash in the pan.Year 2007 is around the corner, Governor Orji Uzor Kalu, an Igbo man, has declared his interest in the presidency.
But again Ohaneze Ndigbo has declared support for tenure extension for Obasanjo. As a chieftain of the group, were you part of that decision?
It was not the leadership of the Ohaneze Ndigbo that endorsed third term. It was the Ndigbo, as a tribe, speaking through the leadership of the Ohaneze Ndigbo that endorsed third term.
It was the president-general of Ohaneze, who has the mandate and the legitimacy and trust of the entire Igbo race, who subscribed to and stood behind the agitation or clamour for third term, it automatically means that every Igbo man is in support of the third term bid.
Because we are talking of responsibility by mandate. We’ve all agreed to surrender our opinion, our trust unto the leadership of the Ohaneze, as represented by Irukwu. Whatever he says, whether good or bad carries weight. It is unfortunate that he said that.

But whatever he says means that that is the opinion of all the Igbo.
Sometime last year, Governor Kalu convened a meeting of Igbo political leaders in Abuja. And at that meeting, I don’t know if you were there, Irukwu extolled the leadership qualities of Kalu, and even went as far as saying he was proud of him. This same Kalu has said he is in the 2007 presidential race.
How do we now reconcile Kalu’s ambition, with the latest Ohaneze’s stance on third term?
Well, Kalu’s ambition still remains intact and sacred, just like the ambition of every Nigerian.
People are confusing third term with automatic mandate to Obasanjo to continue to rule Nigeria.
Obasanjo and third term are two different things entirely. Okay, let me go back to the question you asked, that Irukwu extolled the good leadership qualities of Kalu.Yes! Everybody believes that Kalu is a determined, good and qualified Igbo man. He is one of the leaders of the Igbo. People are proud of his courage. We identify with his clamour for the betterment and advancement of the Igbo race. He is one of the people who are qualified to rule this country. He is even better than most of the people who are clamouring for the position.
(cuts in) but the new position of Ohaneze appears to be a betrayal to that cause. I mean Kalu’s ambition?
It is not.

How do you mean?
How? There will still be an election. When you say there will be an extension of term, it does not mean that Mr. President would not go through another election before he becomes the president for the third term. It does not equally preclude every other contender from contesting with him. Third term is distinct from continuous presidency to Obasanjo. Kalu is till free to contest, third term or not third term. It does not stop any Nigerian from becoming the president of this country.
But looking at the Nigerian scenario in particular, and Africa at large, you will agree with me that it is always nearly impossible to dislodge an incumbent. And with the PDP today almost in the pocket of the
President, how realizable is Kalu’s ambition under the PDP?
Kalu is a man with a midas touch. Whatever he touches turns into gold. It is the same thing through all his activities in life. If Kalu sets his mind as an Igbo man to be the President of this country, no power of incumbency can stop that.

You see, there are certain things we don’t pre-empt. Kalu or any other Igbo man, I don’t want to restrict this thing to Kalu alone, it is not about him. It is not even about Obasanjo.
I know how difficult it is to defeat an incumbent but if from what people who are anti-third termers are saying, that Nigerians, by their own estimation are in opposition to third term, well, another opportunity through which Nigerians can demonstrate their opposition to third term is during the election.
If Nigerians are overwhelmingly against it (third term) Obasanjo’s incumbency cannot stop it. And who is even sure, who knows who will live till the year 2007.

We are talking about constitution amendment. It is not a dictatorial issue. It is not something we say it will happen and it will just happen. Let’s wait and see. Nobody is being precluded. My position is that Kalu, as good as he is, as qualified as he is, is moving around the country, campaigning, putting things in order, trying to galvanise support across the tribes, across the nation and even internationally to actualize his political ambition.

If he keeps on doing that, he is doing his job as far as getting the presidency for the Igbo’s concern. Third term is not the issue. The issue is everybody is free to contest.
As an individual, do you support third term?
Eh, as a person, I cannot say, because as a person I will be selfish. I will be politically selfish. I will be looking at it from the angle of how it will benefit me as an Igbo man.
Nigeria is not just going to die, or collapse tomorrow. Nigeria is a nation that will live forever. Third term, even if it is for 50 years, and somebody is holding it, or one part of the country is holding it, it would be still moved to another part of the country.

So, in that context, I support a third term that will be institutionally implemented. If the representatives of the people at the National Assembly are in support of it, then I’m in support of it.

When you talk of presidency being the turn of the Igbo, how are you sure other tribes would allow the Igbos to pick it. Third term is not against any tribe, provided… (hesitates). Are you saying that after Obasanjo for instance, the third term provision in the constitution would be withdrawn again?
Third term will outlive Obasanjo, it will outlive all of us. Unless there is another constitutional amendment, other wise I don’t see how it will not remain

As an Igbo man, if there is any positive indication that the third term agenda would deprive us of the opportunity of producing the president of this country, then from this political point of view, I will say I’m against it.

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