*The Nexus Between 10th Senate Leadership and Senator Orji Uzor Kalu*
By: Prof Ojo Emmanuel ADEMOLA
Akin to “Hope 1993” political sing-song of the business mogul, late Chief M.K.O Abiola’s campaign, Nigeria is currently on the march in search of effective leadership regeneration at all levels of governance. The hurdle for the Executive arm’s leadership search has been substantially scaled on February 25th with the election and affirmation of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu (BAT) as the president-elect of Nigeria, awaiting his official swearing-in in May 2023. The next top level’s search is being focused on the leadership of the 10th Senate Assemblage, and no doubt, it’s a crucial political exercise that requires every deserving attention, commitment and drive by relevant stakeholders in the Nigerian project.
Just as weighty as the leadership of the Executive arm of government is viewed and appraised (in terms of the personality, pedigree, idiosyncrasies, sagacity, nobility, patriotism, delivery, etc of the occupier of the position), the Legislative arm’s leadership commands equal weighty considerations/concerns by the players. The seriousness attached to the position of legislative leadership has informed major national parties to zone it (the position) appropriately in line with the geo-political settings and religious-balancing sentiments of the polity. It is therefore not a happenstance that contenders for the 10th Senate leadership have emerged in a sizeable number across zones and ethnic and religious divides. And among the formidable prospects for the coveted position of Senate Presidency, today is Senator Orji Uzor Kalu representing the Abia North Senatorial District, Abia State.
As the race for the leadership of the National Assembly intensifies, political analysts/strategists have posited some attributes that any prospective candidate for the topmost position should possess, and have been able to establish tangible nexus between such personality and critical success factors needed for the upcoming Administration of Asiwaju Tinubu. The Nigerian State is desirably expectant of good governance from the next dispensation, one that’s capable of transforming the lives of the citizens positively across boards. It seeks an administration that will pursue diligently the creeds of justice, fairness, equity and progress among different ethnic nationalities and religions. And without much ado, the leadership of the Senate plays a critical role here by understanding the need for a harmonious working relationship with the Executive. Such understanding is not assigned to legislative fledgling or the inexperienced but to a personality of immense experience and exposure in national governance.
Contextually, permit me to put a nominal value to approaches that are not democratically applicable accentuating that politics remain a game of numbers and uplifting compensation for hard work in the National interest. On such note, politics as a game could leverage, similarly, to that of local hunting in which stakeholders go for a hunting gambol, and after associated yields available in everything, after the exercise compensation for work well done arrives, now per level of efforts inputting in capturing the animals. However, at this level in this legislative game, the outcomes will essentially take a sound basis on prognosis and nexus. In one of our earlier pieces, you would agree without any reservation that the prognosis of becoming the Senate President of the 10th Legislative Assembly favours unreservedly Senator Orji Kalu.
It is on this basis that taking a look at a viable core, which extensively will help to shape the outcome of national legislative problems deciphering fairly, equitably, and in National interest can not be over-emphasised at any stage of our national development. Such a nexus is to establish understandable contours that exist between the comprehensive profiles of distinguished Senator Orji Uzor Kalu and the quest for the 10th Senate presidency.
The discourse on the nexus between the 10th National Assembly leadership and the personality of Senator Kalu is intricately tied to the leadership quotient of the Senate and the overall performance (or otherwise) of the executive arm of government. Put in plain language: the Senate President must share/imbibe the mind, aspirations, vision, intents, goals, struggles, hope, aspirations, and desires of the Nation’s president, and invariably, the such aspirant must possess distinct qualities that resonate with that of the executive president himself.
Recall that in our earlier piece, we had narrowed the race for the Senate presidency to Senator Orji Uzor Kalu from the South Eastern (SE) zone based on the rotational guiding principles of the ruling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC). Our prognoses had affirmed Senator Kalu as the most favoured of all contenders premised on many predetermined considerations/variables. But are the stated leadership propositions in tandem with those of the president-elect? In other words, can we infer that the quality highlights of the prospective candidate (Senator Orji Uzor Kalu) tally with the inner recess of BAT to see through his projected ‘2023 Renewed Hope Agenda’?
For one, Asiwaju Tinubu is a visionary leader of a great leadership mind, one with a deep-rooted passion for a progressive, prosperous and united Nation, and it follows that whoever must drive the leadership of the National Assembly should key into such belief. From all intents, all-inclusive governance framework, and purposes, the visionary’s quest readily throws up Senator Orji Uzor Kalu (OUK), representing the Abia North Senatorial District of Abia State under the platform of APC, is the most qualified, among other prospective contenders for the coveted seat. Viewed from the prisms of the need to maintain the balance of political power, and ensure a sense of inclusion among the ethnic groups in the Country, the choice of Senator Orji Uzor Kalu would seem a perfect fit for many reasons. Percolating from the political barometer of Nigeria’s temperature, the stakeholders from the five (5) States of South East zone have been obviously in a state of oscillation, tension, and despondency sharing in the Country, and their concerns need to be addressed to enhance democratic expansion, particularly, the progressive governance that Tinubu’s presidency stands for. The incoming administration of Asiwaju BAT, against the need to correct the perceived anomalies in the marginalisation of ethnic entities in the polity, it’s apt to streamline the power-zoning of the critical positions of the ruling party to address injustice, unfairness and inequality. And in consideration of this proposition, the South East zone, like the other afflicted ones, deserves the slot of the Senate President as a compensation balancing trophy. Visionary leadership will naturally resolve the nagging issue of national balancing before advancing into other critical areas of governance. It’s reasoned that once the Eastern-necessity propositions are imbibed by the cross sections of political players (North and South), the search for the most qualified, experienced, resourceful, devoted and committed team player from the zone becomes easier to accomplish, and it’s within this context that the candidature of Senator Orji Uzor Kalu for the Senate Presidency is x-rayed and positioned.
Two, the nexus-super link indicates that the president-elect is known for many exemplary leadership qualities of topnotch that include the ability to assemble a quality Team and weigh the variable in support of the most qualified and best possible choice for the coveted position of Senate President of the coming dispensation, distinguished Senator Kalu stands taller above others as the most qualified of his peers. His progression from current Senate Chief Whip provides the bedrock fit for this assertion, and indeed makes it logical as the 4th highest ranking Senator from the South East, and has served as a two-term tenure Executive Governor of Abia State from May 29, 1999, to May 29, 2007 (the same periods that the president-elect served at the State level) gives him added advantage to appreciate the dynamism involved in leading a vibrant and complimentary National Assembly. You will agree that this is what progressive global governance consistently is all about. Also on this super link of problems solving, OUK is a seasoned private sector guru, it is equally important to take into account his successful first term as the Senate Chief Whip of the 9th National Assembly, which earned him the respect of his peers, most notably the Senate President, Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan, who considered him “the most influential Chief Whip in the history of the Nigerian Senate”. Hence, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu is the most qualified and best possible choice.
Three, the incoming Tinubu Administration would need to hit developmental’s paths running in terms of a series of tasks of governance, and such requires support from the legislative arm with sterling leadership qualities. Achieving success of tasks before an assemblage of distinguished legislators with varied peculiarities dwells more on the character of exemplary leadership, which must have been acquired for service. Throughout his political career, OUK has led by example, articulated his vision (and realized it), demonstrated integrity, made hard decisions, communicated effectively with his fellow lawmakers, empowered his subordinates and constituents, and been a source of inspiration and motivation for those around him. He has also displayed tremendous leadership and has always backed up his words with action for winning outcomes. Senator Orji Uzor Kalu’s achievements in public office over the years speak volumes and his unwavering commitment to good governance and a better Nigeria is irrefutable. These are attributes that would ensure his success in this role; another nexus for Senator Kalu’s choice.
Four, political pedigree is yet another major determinant variable for consideration in pitching a tent over a sensitive position of a would-be Senate President. The BAT’s Team understands that the position of Senate leadership requires a personality with demonstrable political sagacity, capable of navigating the rough waters of Nigerian sociopolitical and cultural diversities. As mentioned earlier, there aren’t many politicians and public office holders with the pedigree and vast array of accomplishments of Senator Orji Uzor Kalu in this regard. The position of the 10th Senate President requires a politician with considerable experience in governance and lawmaking. All of these qualities he possesses in spades along with the fundamental tools to prosper in the role.
Five, the senatorial experience required for the tasks ahead is a major factor that the president-elect would be considering in tipping his tent with any candidate for the position of Senate leadership. The distinguished Senator Kalu has made giant strides in the legislative practice to affirm his first-among-equal status for the position. During his first Senatorial term which began on June 11, 2019, he remarkably sponsored 51 bills and 28 motions, making him The highest-rated among lawmakers from Abia state. Similarly one of the best performing and most highly regarded Senators in the country. As a further step towards crowning his senatorial gains, the foremost aspirant for the Senate president position has ensured the democratic dividends in his District by way of infrastructural development. Senator Kalu’s immense contribution to the infrastructural development of his Senatorial district, Abia North during his first four years in office, cannot be invalidated. He has undertaken several projects in that region such as the construction of roads, and the renovation of schools and hospitals. Other projects include the installation of street lights, sinking boreholes, supply of equipment to local farmers, and processing machines for local farm produce. The aspiring Senator continues to empower people in his constituency, particularly the youth and remains committed to more developmental projects in his second term.
Six, leadership comes with its concomitant price of being courageous, bold, and reliable at the critical time of reckoning. Asiwaju Tinubu understands these variables very well because they resonate with his personality. For Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, these qualities are most obvious through his unwavering support for Tinubu’s campaign immediately the APC declared Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu the party’s Presidential Aspirant for the 2023 Elections. Senator Kalu has been the most prominent and consistent voice of support for Asiwaju Tinubu, especially in the South East. In such acts, he continues to support the winning paradigm of the progressive governance of Asiwaju Tinubu even in the face of public scrutiny, ridicule, and backlash from the media, and opposition from rival parties as well as within his party. Rather than buckle under immense pressure, he remained brave and steadfast in backing the President-elect. It’s pay-back time in terms of Asiwaju machinery’s support for Kalu’s ambition. And understanding the leadership personality of BAT, Senator Kalu can be assured of being an ally to the president-elect for his senatorial engagement.
Seventh, aside from the earlier variables of prognoses listed, a contender for the outstanding position of the Senate President (like the President of the Nation) must necessarily come to the field with nationalist and detribalized credentials. In becoming the president-elect, BAT has demonstrated many of the traits, and nothing less is expected of the would-be President of the Senate. Senator Orji Kalu is known for his detribalized mindset. His name has a high degree of National appeal from all geopolitical zones, and he has repeatedly displayed a willingness to work with all Nigerians. And being the nationalist, he would also prove most beneficial in stabilizing and unifying all Senators regardless of their respective ethnic backgrounds, states/regions of origin, and party differences.
Eight, just like the president-elect, being exemplary in resourcefulness, and pragmatic are sine-qua-non to holding forth the realms of affairs at the Senate, and by purposes and intents, the aspirant possesses the qualities. OUK is the chairman of SLOK Holding, a successful business endeavour. Pragmatism and resourcefulness qualities are among his greatest strengths. He is a man with the Midas touch, a captain of industry who has investments in many areas including the media – he owns the Sun and the New Telegraph newspapers. I dare say that, a tested and trusted vessel like Senator Kalu fits the bill for a presumably marginalized geographic zone of our vibrant compatriots from the eastern front. Similarly, his experience in the private sector will help sustain a workable national development plan for Nigeria.
Concisely, it is unified national agenda to put Nigeria’s interest and unity above sectional interests and settle for the nexus-super link with sufficient justification, OUK will exceed expectations and perform credibly exceptionally as Senate President of the 10th Assembly. In essence, it is all about the national interest. OUK is still a seasoned, high-ranking Senator from the South Eastern geopolitical zone who has maintained an admirable and unwavering relationship with other Senators from other geopolitical zones of the country over the years. OUK exemplifies the maturity, leadership, and unifying qualities that are expected of a Senate President. His unrivalled landmark accomplishments in the National Assembly include sponsoring more than 50 bills and moving motions that brought the nation together. In addition, the youth agitations and unrest caused by the perceived exclusion of the South East Zone from political positions will all be put to rest if he becomes Senate President. As President of the Senate and Chairman of the National Assembly, OUK will work with the Executive to bring the dividends of democracy to the Nigerian people and keep Nigeria in peace and unity for greater prosperity. Without a doubt, OUK will join every single Nigerian legislator and bring out his abundance of regulative experience and mastery to benefit greatly the general interest of Nigerians. The visualization favours him and the nexus states him as a round stake in a round square, a loyal high-positioning official per greatness who has separated himself as a Nigerian Nationalist through his bills, movements and oversight capabilities. In addition, throughout his career, his unwavering commitment to the All Progressive Congress has revealed his true nature as a nationalist and statesman.
Conclusively, the prognosis of establishing the necessary nexus for the leadership of choice of a Senate revolves around, among other propositions, a cerebral personality who can play the balancing act in a delicate political environment like Nigeria at this critical time; a personality with patriotic zeal for unifying the diverse nation; a team player who gets tasks achieved with minimal delay, and an experienced legislative player who is never a neophyte. OUK will not stop or be weary to pull out all stops for the betrothed unprecedented significance of the incoming Tinubu’s presidency. All these attributes are found in Senator Kalu, a ready-made tool needed to deepen democratic experimentation as Senate President for the convocation of the 10th National Assembly. For certainty, Senator Kalu is trustworthy, amendable, dependable, reliable, and doctrinaire not to rock the boat of leadership for the Asiwaju Tinubu/Shettima Administration.
*Prof. Ojo Emmanuel ADEMOLA is a distinguished and foremost strategic political analyst and a global Cyber Security technocrat*