Group Faults Garba over Claims Tinubu Got 8,000 Votes in Abia

The national support group of the Senate Chief Whip, Orji Kalu has debunked claims by a former member of the House of Representatives, Adamu Garba that the President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, got only 8,000 votes from Abia State.

The political pressure group known as “OUK Grassroots Movement” in a statement in Abuja, described Garba’s statement as not only erroneous but ignorant.

It clarified  that the former Abia governor and Senate President hopeful contributed over 300,000 votes to the victory of the  Tinubu.

The group’s national leader Alhaji Murtala Mohammed in a statement yesterday, said  apart from his error ridden comment, Garba has no moral standing to advise the party leadership as he had recently dumped the party over selfish reasons only to return a month after.

Explaining further, Murtala emphasised that Orji Kalu gave the president-elect over 300,000 votes rallied by the Movement from across Nigeria during the presidential election held on February 25. 2023

Murtala carpeted the ex House of Reps member’s comment on Channels TV programme Politics Today where he said that members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the South-east did not do  enough to give them the right to demand that the office of the Senate President should come to the South-east.

He dismissed the comment as fake news as according to him, Garba spoke out of ignorance because he did not  know anything about the level of political structure put in place for the Senate Chief Whip by his numerous supporters across the country who wanted the former Abia Governor to run for president ahead of the 2023 election.

Murtala further noted that the group through Kalu’s support navigated the grassroots communities across the nation to rally votes for the APC president-elect.

Part of the statement read: “For the record, we formed a Movement to mobilise support for the former Abia governor to run for president and we were able to mobilise supporters across all the 36 States of the federation and FCT.

“When it became clear that our principal is not going to run for President we collapsed our structure for Tinubu and eventually we gave Tinubu over 300,000 votes

“What I am saying is that the political structure of Orji Uzor Kalu cuts across the whole country because he has followers and supporters all over the 36 States and FCT Abuja. So it is wrong to use votes from Abia State and the South-east geopolitical zone to judge his contribution to the election of Tinubu as president during February Presidential election.”

Meanwhile, the Abia North stakeholders under the aegis of Abia North Peace Foundation has said  a former Senator representing Abia North Senatorial District, Mao Ohuabunwa is using Senator Orji Kalu’s name to seek relevance after losing the 2023 senatorial election.

Ohuabunwa, who represented Abia North Senatorial District in the 8th National Assembly, yesterday, opposed the possible emergence of Kalu as the Senate President for the 10th National Assembly.

Speaking during an interview with Channels TV, Ohuabunwa said Kalu was not competent.

When asked how he would feel should Kalu emerge as the next Senate President, Ohuabunwa said: “I will feel terrible because I don’t believe that he is competent to represent the Senate.

“He has not won the election so I wouldn’t want a Senate President that will be removed tomorrow.”

But the stakeholders in a statement signed by its Director General, Chief Nnanna Ukaegbu said Ohuabunwa was frustrated, following his rejection by Abia North voters in 2019 and 2023, saying he was only seeking relevance.

They said:  “As stakeholders of Abia North Senatorial District, we must appreciate Nigerians rallying round Distinguished Senator Orji Uzor Kalu—a known performer and a detribalised Nigerian with an impeccable character and charisma.

“We commend Nigerians across board for supporting our son and we assure them that he won’t disappoint when he emerges as the President of the 10th Senate.

“Ohuabunwa’s unfortunate interview on Channels Television  is a futile attempt of a frustrated and rejected politician to assess a national figure like Distinguished Senator Orji Uzor Kalu.

“Nigerians must know that our people voted massively for distinguished Senator Orji Uzor Kalu to defeat Ohuabunwa consecutively in 2019 and 2023. Hence, his dimensional frustration and bitterness towards sons and daughters of Abia North Senatorial District.

“We also appreciate Mr Ohuabunwa’s frustration arising from his dimming image after his catastrophic outing in 2019 and 2023 and his struggle to accept realities that he is not on the same lane with the current Chief Whip of the Senate having lost his polling unit, ward and local government area to him.

“We are aware that Ohuabunwa is trying to seek relevance using the name of our dynamic son and senator,  Orji Uzor Kalu. We urge him to do it with decorum or remain silent as we have not forgotten his infamous frying pan sharing era that brought shame to Abia North Senatorial District.”

The group added that it is laughable that Ohuabunwa said Kalu did not win the Abia North Senatorial election, noting that Ohuabunwa lost his polling unit, ward and local government area to Senator Kalu.

“For the umpteenth time, we advise Ohuabunwa to have some shame and accept his unpopularity in Abia North Senatorial District and move on. How can a man who failed in his polling unit, ward and local government area to  Senator Orji Uzor Kalu be talking the way he did on Channels Television?

“We want to urge our President-elect, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, his vice, Senator Kassim Shettima,  Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, Senators-elect, all patriotic sons and daughters of Abia North Senatorial District, Abians and Nigerians in general to remain focused with their eyes on the ball and refuse to be distracted by the attention seeker named Mao Ohuabunwa,” the group said.

APC coalition petitions NWC to zone Senate President to South East

A group, All Progressives Congress (APC) Coalition of Support Groups, has petitioned the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party to consider zoning the post of Senate President to the South East zone. 

The coalition also urged the NWC to place emphasis on character profile, experience, capacity and competence as yardstick for whoever is to superintend over any arm of government, especially the senate of the 10th Assembly.

They also made a case for commitment to party, loyalty, capacity for performance, and track record of service in party administration for such a canddiate.

The coalition in a statement, yesterday, by Sally William-Chinepu claimed that having been overheated by non-inclusivity in principal elective appointments, the NWC can redress this by taking proper and judicious decision on the South East quest for the Senate presidency.

Said the coalition: “For a smooth democratic process,  there is a need for the protection of nascent democracy which is hinged on the principle of Federal Character as provided in the constitution of Nigeria that recognises and promotes inclusivity of all groups in the country into public offices. By compliance of this provision, the peaceful co-existence and national security is guaranteed which is the bedrock of progress and development of our nation. Without being subservient to primordial argument of state, tribal, religious, regional considerations, emphasis should be placed on character profile, experience, capacity and competence on who should superintend over any arm of government especially the senate of the 10th Assembly.

“For the 10th Assembly, the aforementioned should be the yard stick in determining who becomes the senate president. As members of the NWC, paramount amongst your reasons for preference on who become the senate president, should be commitment to party loyalty to party, capacity for performance and track record of service in party administration.

“While not objecting to the emotional argument of geopolitical consideration, it behooves on the NWC to lean on the balance of justice and equity, and insecurity challenges to concede the senate president position to the South East geo-political zone, where undoubtedly character and competence is remarkably in abundance.

“Only recently, the South East political zone has been overheated by non-inclusivity in principal elective appointments which the NWC can redress by taking proper and judicious decision on the South East Senate Presidency.

“Going forward, while not overstretching our bounds of advice, we are compelled to further micro zone the office of the Senate President to a square peg to a square hole,” the coalition said.

APC may zone Senate presidency to S’East

As the race for leadership of the 10th National Assembly gathers momentum, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) might zone the Senate presidency to the South East. A source told The Guardian the move is to appease the zone.

Those eyeing the seat include, Senators Orji Uzor Kalu, Osita Izunaso, Jibrin Barau, Sani Musa, Godswill Akpabio and Ali Ndume. Also speculated to be in the list against the ranking standing rule are former governor of Zamfara State, Abdulaziz Yari (APC, Zamfara West), outgoing governor of Ebonyi State, David Umahi (APC, Ebonyi South) and erstwhile governor of Edo State, Adams Oshiomhole (APC, Edo North).

It’s unclear which of the lawmakers from the zone would get the nod of President-elect Bola Tinubu and the party in the events leading to the June inauguration of the next Assembly. 

Already, there are speculations that Akpabio is already exploring the prospect of settling for a ministerial appointment. He is believed to be angling for either the Petroleum or Niger Delta ministerial seats in place of the coveted Senate presidency.

The source said: “To avoid losing out, Akpabio has since begun reaching out to Bola Tinubu personally and through his allies to return to any of the plum ministries, which appears to be more favourable to the former two- term governor, when compared to the Senate president position.

“His chances are very dim and he knows this. Our party and the President-elect are committed to forming a government of national unity, and quell restiveness in geo-political zones in the country, beginning with the Southeast by giving them the opportunity to produce the next Senate President.”

This comes, as the governing party is said to be considering between the North West and Central for office of the House of Representatives Speaker.

Among the are sitting Deputy Speaker Ahmed Idris Wase, Makki Yalleman, Adamu Yusuf Gagdi, Benjamin Kalu, Peter Akpatason, Muktar Aliyu Betara, Sada Soli Jibia, Tunji Olawuyi, Abbas Tajuddeen and Aminu Sani Jaji.

The speculation is coming against the backdrop of the meeting by Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila and some of the aspirants where the issue as to whether he has a preferred candidate was said to have been discussed.

A close source said: “The Speaker did not call us to ask anybody to step down, as it’s being said. One, there are insinuations and accusation that he is supporting one candidate.

“He called that meeting first to know how we are campaigning as individuals and whether we have problems among us the aspirants, which we said no. We don’t have any problem.

“Then, some of the aspirants raised an issue that Speaker’s boys are using his name for an aspirant, and that the Speaker asked them to campaign for him. And it has begun to create apprehension and tension.

“So, some people raised that observation for Speaker to call the attention of one of his staff that is parading himself that he’s under the instruction of Mr. Speaker to support one candidate. That was sorted out.

“Secondly, Speaker emphasised to us that he is a partyman and being the Speaker, he has never done anti-party. So, he assured us that any day, any time the party zones, he will be supporting the zone that the party zoned to. This is the only thing that happened. So, anybody that tells you anything outside that, is not true.”

APC Considering S/East for Senate President, N/West, N/Central for Speakership

This is coming as a strong indication emerged that Senator Godswill Akpabio may have dropped his ambition to run for Senate President.

It has been claimed that the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) is considering to zone the Senate President to South-East region for the 10th National Assembly.

Vanguard reported that the party is also planning to zone the Speakership position to North West or North Central.

It is claimed this could be the reason Senator Godswill Akpabio may have dropped his ambition to run for Senate President.

In the alternative, he is said to be pursuing a ministerial appointment in the cabinet of the President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.

It will be recalled that Akpabio, a former Minority Leader of the Senate and immediate past minister of Niger Delta Affairs in the government of President Muhammadu Buhari, resigned his portfolio, following the provision of section 84 (12) of the Electoral Act of 2022 to contest the presidential primaries of the All Progressives Congress, APC.

But at the convention ground, Akpabio stepped down for Tinubu who later won the party’s ticket and also went ahead to win the keenly contested February 25, 2023, presidential election.

Vanguard gathered from reliable sources within the party hierarchy and the National Assembly, yesterday, that Akpabio’s decision to drop his Senate presidential ambition was informed by the decision of the party to zone the slot to the South East.

While some of the senators in the 9th National Assembly have publicly made known their intention to vie for the office of the Senate president, others are yet to do so.

Some of the contenders for the President of the Senate include former governor of Abia State and current Chief Whip, Dr Orji Uzor Kalu; Senators Jibrin Barau (APC, Kano North); Sani Musa (APC, Niger East); and Ali Ndume (APC, Borno South).

But, Kalu has the brightest chance to emerge the next Senate President in June when the principal leaders would be inaugurated, if the sources are anything to go by.

Also speculated to be on the list against the ranking standing rule are the former governor of Zamfara State, Abdulaziz Yari (APC, Zamfara West); the outgoing governor of Ebonyi State, David Umahi (APC, Ebonyi South), and former governor of Edo State, Adams Oshiomhole (APC, Edo North).

One of the sources who pleaded anonymity said that barring any last minute eventuality, the party leadership would soon announce the zoning arrangements of all the presiding and principal offices both in the Senate and the House.

Tinubu will be sworn in as president on May 29, 2023, barely two months from now and he is mandated by a new law signed by President Buhari in the constitutional alterations to form his cabinet within 60 days of assumption of office.