By Oluchi Oseh
On Saturday February 16, 2019 Nigerians across the nation will troop out in their millions to elect those that will represent them at the National Assembly. The federal lawmakers as they are known are distributed in the two chambers of the federal legislature, namely the Senate and the House of Representatives. Senators by the size of the senatorial districts represent larger population unlike the members of the House of Representatives whose constituencies are much smaller. Nonetheless the men and women in the National Assembly are elected representatives of their people. They are voices of the people they represent
The question on the lips of the people of Abia North Senatorial District is: who shall we send; who shall go for us? A number of persons have come out to say here I am, send me. Those that are jostling to be sent to the Senate to represent Abia North come from different political parties. They include Dr Chief Orji Uzor Kalu who is flying the banner of the All Progressives congress)APC and the incumbent, Senator Mao Ohuabunwa of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as well as Chief David Onuoha Bourdex, the senatorial flag bearer of the All Progressives grand Alliance (APGA). These three stand out among the crowd of candidates that want to receive the mandate from Abia North voters hence the election is already billed as a three horse race. But Kalu stands shoulders higher than the other contestants and is expected to coast home to victory. In fact the former governor is a senator in waiting and the people of Abia North comprising six local governments are eagerly waiting for the man of the people to go to Abuja and speak for them and also bring home democracy dividends.
Kalu is a well known figure not just in Abia where he held sway for eight years (1999 – 2007) as governor but also throughout Nigeria where he has been a major player in national politics and in business. During his time as the chief executive of God’s own state Kalu had built a reputation as the people’s governor, who demystified governance and lifted the veil that presented government as a fearsome masquerade that must be watched from a distance. He was down to earth and mixed freely with the governed and could be seen on the streets or road sides buying corn or groundnut from a petty trader. By so doing he was able to feel the pulse of the people he was presiding over their affairs unlike other chief executives of states that depend on aides who in most cases are sycophants to know what is happening outside the seat of power. Any wonder that the people’s governor executed programmes and developmental projects that were people-oriented.
That is why eleven years out of power the charm, charisma and aura has not faded. Kalu is like a celebrity and has continued to be idolized. You only need to see how people hail him in pure ecstasy any time he appears in public. That is the man fondly called OUK by his admirers. So is there any reason why the man that feels and cares for the people will not be the best candidate to represent them in the senate? Certainly, none. The people of Abia North know that the Red Chamber of the National Assembly belong to those with strong voice hence the ground swell of support the Kalu’s candidacy has enjoyed. Kalu has amply demonstrated his capacity to speak out on every issue of national importance, especially that which affects Ndigbo. The former governor is a man of immense political sagacity whose influence cannot be circumscribed within his senatorial zone or even the entire Abia state. He is a national figure, a bridge builder and advocate for national unity, equity and fair play in the Nigeria project.
Good enough Kalu has continued to assure the people that he would continue to pursue those ideals for which he is known for. He will always stand for truth and justice and ensure that the Southeast is not marginalized in the scheme of things. With his vast contacts and connections across political, religious and sectional divide Kalu is sure going to be a good senator, in fact a utility lawmaker par excellence. He is a likable person and has made friends across the nation. His national acceptability would make it easier for him attract democracy dividends for his people he can always convince whoever is in a position to dispense such favours.
In a time like this when our nation is being buffeted by sectional and divisive tendencies those with moderating influences are in needed in the Senate. Kalu fits into this mould. His presence in eh Senate will in no small measure assist in neutralising the centripetal and centrifugal forces threatening to tear the nation into pieces. Nigeria needs leaders who can apply soothing balms to frayed nerves and Kalu is that kind leader who will not leave any stone unturned to make peace and harmony prevails in the land.
Since he left office at the end of his two terms Kalu has been living his life as a private citizen. But that has not in any way dampened his desire to make life meaningful for people. The people of Abia North cannot easily forget the harrowing experience they always face traveling along the Uzuakoli- Ohafia road until the intervention of Kalu. Today the road has been rehabilitated to the relief of the people using it. He has continued to empower people and attend to the needs of the less privileged in the society. Despite his immense wealth and status in the society Kalu has remained a simple man by nature and does not discriminate between the haves and the have nots. He represents a quintessential man of the people. There is no way a legislator would perform optimally and represent the people well if he creates a gulf and barricades himself from the people he represents. That’s why the people of Abia North cannot afford to miss having Kalu as their Senator.
Though Kalu has in the past tried albeit unsuccessfully to win the senatorial mandate of Abia North his time has come in 2019. The people have realised that they have been missing a lot without their illustrious son in eh senate. They have therefore thrown their weight behind Kalu in his senatorial ambition. No one is left out – youths, men, women, traditional rulers and professional bodies. Good enough the forces that worked against him in previous elections have been weakened and the poll manipulations perpetrated against him will no longer be allowed to feature in the present democratic process. Abia North can finally get the right man they’ve been yearning for represent them in the senate. There will be songs of joy after the polls on Saturday February 16, 2019.
Oluchi Oseh is a Media consultant, she wrote from Abuja.