A leading contender for the position of Deputy Senate President in the ninth National Assembly, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, has debunked speculations that the National Working Committee (NWC) of the All Progressives Congress (APC), after wide consultations with President Muhammdu Buhari and other stakeholders of the party, has formally endorsed Senator Ovie Omo-Agege
The former governor of Abia State and Senator-elect for Abia North also denied that he had withdrawn from the contest.
He maintained that he is still in the race, except otherwise advised by the president or the party’s highest decision-making body.
National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mallam Issa Lanre-Onilu, had on Monday issued a statement that the NWC has formally adopted Omo-Agege as the party’s candidate for the position of deputy senate president.
But Kalu, who had some days ago met with President Buhari, said the president only adopted the candidacies of the duo of Ahmed Lawan and Femi Gbajabiamila for the positions of Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives, respectively, while noting that anyone was free to contest for other principal positions.
In a statement issued by his media office and signed by Ken Cole, the former governor stressed that as a staunch supporter of President Buhari and loyal member of the APC, he would always abide by the decisions of the president and highly respected members of the NWC.
He, however, said the speculation of the formal endorsement of Omo-Agege was the handiwork of selfish elements in the party who were self-serving and desperate to cause disharmony among party stakeholders.
Kalu said: “Ahead of tomorrow’s (today) inauguration of the ninth National Assembly and election of principal officers, politicians have started deploying different antics to satisfy their ambitions.
“One of such is a statement credited to National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Mallam Lanre Onilu, claiming that President Muhammadu Buhari and the NWC of the party had formally adopted Senator Ovie Omo-Agege as the party’s candidate for the position of deputy Senate president.
“I hold the president in high esteem as well as the National Chairman of our great party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole and other members of the NWC and as such, I will not disobey any formal pronouncement by them. However, I am still in the race to become deputy senate president because the president and the NWC have not adopted any candidate and as such the contest is open to all members of the party, who have the capability.
“I have the political dexterity, leadership qualities and goodwill to complement the efforts of the senate president in actualising the objectives of the legislature in support of the efforts of President Muhammadu Buhari in taking Nigeria to greater heights.
“Leadership positions in the ninth Senate should be given to people who have the will to support the agenda of the APC while not deviating from the ideals of democracy.
“As I continue to mobilise support for the position of Deputy Senate President, I commend the President, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole and other stakeholders of the party for their support.
“Come tomorrow, by the special grace of God and to the admiration of APC members and Nigerians at large, I will emerge as Deputy Senate President in the 9th National Assembly.”
Kalu, while appealing to the leadership of the APC to give a level playing field for all contenders for the position of deputy senate president, who are APC members, maintained that he is still in the race, except otherwise advised by the president or the party’s highest decision-making body.