By Lawani Mikairu
Former Abia State Governor, Dr Orji Uzor Kalu said yesterday that President Muhammadu Buhari does not want automatic ticket to re -contest for the 2019 Presidential Election, because he would want other interested candidates to explore the democratic process to test their popularity.
This is just as Kalu said President Buhari is making a lot of inroads in South East. Saying that the role he played during Anambra election, other Presidents would have written the results and that Buhari said: ‘no every ballot paper must be counted’ and they were counted. If it is other President, APC would be jubilating home with victory. But President said, ‘no, I would not tolerate that.
On the opposition, he said the Peoples Democratic Party ( PDP) would not bounce back because of the massive looting of the nation’s treasury during the last administration.
Speaking at a private wing of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, Kalu said President Buhari as a democrat would want every interested candidate to be given a chance to test their popularity and exercise their democratic right.
Acccording to Kalu : “ Buhari himself is not even looking for automatic ticket. Buhari is a man that is very fair and free to what he does. And his feeling is that if any candidate is willing to contest against him, he should come to the Eagle Square.
“ And some schools of thought are saying ‘no, if in the United State, Obama was given automatic ticket. President Bush in Republican Party was given automatic ticket. President Clinton was given automatic ticket. The First and Second Bush were given automatic ticket.
“ So President Buhari is also feeling that automatic ticket for him is not right. He said open the space for other people who also want to contest. He want the openness of the primary to take place.
He further said : “ The contest should be thrown open. There would be no rancour. We are in democracy and I would vote for the President. I’ve said it times without number, that the President needs to consolidate on his achievements because most parts of President because the President is very popular. He is still the only person carrying 12 million votes in his back.” his tenure have been besieged by illness. So the President genuinely deserves second tenure.
“ We are not afraid of anybody who wants to contest against the President.
On PDP chances of bouncing back, he said the international community was outraged by the massive looting of the nation’s treasury by PDP, that it would amount to the greatest disservice to call for the return of PDP.
Kalu also said Buhari was under restraint not to expose the gargantuan corruption that took place at the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPPC)
Kalu said : “ How can they bounce back when treasury was looted? How can they bounce back when the international community doesn’t see anything good in them? How can they bounce back when we gave them our treasury, they opened and looted it.
“We would call names if they want to us to call names in future. All the World Powers knew what happened and this is why they tactically insisted that PDP must leave power. PDP committed what was very shameful to have been seen in a democratic process. There is no system that is not with corruption but going to loot is an affront to Nigerian people.
“They opened the treasury and looted the treasury. President Buhari having been restrained by some World Powers not to open up what happened in the NNPC. If Nigerians know what happened in NNPC, those people would not pass this airport, people would not leave them. What they did is what hear and eyes should not even hear. How can they come back? They will definitely go to oblivion, they would never win election again in Nigeria unless they changed their name.”
Kalu was however , reluctant to comment on the resignation of the former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar from the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC), saying, if he had the opportunity of advising him, he would have asked him to remain to rebuild the APC.
On Atiku he said : “ To be honest with you, Atiku was my boss and he is still my boss. And I hardly don’t want to discuss Atiku Abubakar. You know he is very close to me. The question you are asking me is a lot of task but I wish him well. If I was to advise him before he leaves, I would say, ‘don’t leave. Let us build a large team together.’ If he wanted to contest against the President, it would be open at the Eagle Square. If he wins, we would support him.
“ If the President wins, we would support the President. But running from one party, you remember I am the only Nigerian since democratic process who has been in only two parties. I have been in PPA and PDP. I didn’t run back and forward. No I was in opposition since 2006 that I was deregistered in PDP. I’ve been in opposition until 16th of November last year when I joined the APC.
“It is not every election year we would go and form a new political party. It doesn’t entrench our democratic process. I am feeling it and I am seeing it that it is not the right thing to do, what are we going to teach the younger ones? “
.He said Buhari was gaining popularity and acceptance in the South East, as many leaders of thought are now seeing him in a different light .
Kalu explained “ Even in the South East where he didn’t do well, I’m just come from the South East. President Buhari is making a lot of inroads. The role he played during Anambra election, other Presidents would have written the results.
“ They have done it before. But the President said, ‘no every ballot paper must be counted’ and they were counted. If it is other President, APC would be jubilating home with victory. But President said, ‘no, I would not tolerate that.
“He warned the police, he warned the INEC, he warned the party and said ‘every one vote must be counted’ and that was what was done. Have we ever had a President like that in Nigeria? The answer is no. Other ones would come and even put armoured car in my house in Ikwerre. That’s what we have been seeing. So why don’t Nigerians embrace this man who is saying I might be slow but do things through the due process.
“I’ve spoken to some Catholic Bishops, Priests and some Anglican Bishops and some priests in Presbyterian Church who used to sit with me and criticised the President. They are now telling me, no we don’t know the President is this kind of person.
“So I have been in the South East for the past two weeks. I have been there from election till now.
“ So I know the mentality of our people now and they are going to vote for the man. Whether is PDP, APC or APGA, all of them are going to vote for the man. You can see Governor Umahi of Ebonyi has already endorsed the President for second term. Whether Obiano (Anambra Governor) is crossing over to APC or PDP, he would definitely endorse the president. So the President has support in the region.”