The Conference of Civil Society Of Nigeria, CCSN has condemned the recent statements by the Coalition of Northern Patriots Front, South West Professionals and Coalition of Arewa Group accusing Hon Benjamin Kalu of betraying the All Progressives Congress, APC.
Convener of the Coalition, Comrade Archie Isong in a statement he signed, insisted that the genuine and patriotic interest of Kalu to run for the Speaker of the House of Representatives has unbalanced some politicians who have now chosen to malign his person.
The Coalition demanded an apology and a retraction of the libellous statement and urged Nigerians of good standing to ignore rumour peddlers.
The Coalition said, ”The race for the Speakership of the 10th House of Reps is serious business and not some monkey business as exhibited by a motley of rag-tag, unknown and unregistered Coalition of so-called Northern Patriots Front, South West Professionals and Coalition of Arewa Group. We are constrained to respond to the coalition in allegiance to posterity, if it were to the contrary, they are underserving of any rejoinder as their position is untenable and lacks integrity as well as objectivity.
”’It is exciting to note that the genuine and patriotic interest of the Spokesperson of the House of Representatives and Member representing Bende Federal Constituency, Rep. Benjamin Kalu, to run for the Speakership of the 10th House of Representatives, has unbalanced a certain segment and rather than to focus on the core issues of competence, equity, balance, loyalty and leadership, they have descended into the abyss of mudslinging and bolekaja politics. Unfortunate!
”Of a truth, Hon. Kalu’s political odyssey as the last man standing in Abia APC out of 8 Federal Constituencies is a weighty testament to his acceptability, dedication, commitment and unalloyed loyalty to the APC. If he were to have played Judas as alleged by his traducers, how is it that he is standing while others capitulated at the polls? We a knowledge that talk is cheap and parrots like to chatter to be noticed. If not, how can one explain without any empirical evidence the allegation that Hon Kalu sold the party out? The question that begs is to who and for what? These two questions if not satisfactorily answered are enough grounds for liability because he who asserts must prove.
”It is instructive that context be given to the Hon. Kalu matrix in the build-up to the February polls. Owing to the obvious inevitability of his return to office, his campaign offices and materials were targeted so much so that over 100 bullets were counted when some it was attacked. It is also on record that he was undeterred and campaigned vigorously for the APC and Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu as a presidential candidate in Abia State. They say pictures do not lie and this is a fact as Hon. Kalu could be seen in several pictures and videos as one of the leaders that received the APC Presidential Candidate to Abia State, while some of the leaders who want to lead the 10th National Assembly publicly supported other political parties.
”What are the core issues in the race for the Speakership?
i. Experience and Knowledge
It is worthy of note that while the experience of the incumbent and outgoing speaker, Rt. Hon Femi Gbajabiamila is a factor for his laudable performance in the 9th Assembly, his strong knowledge of parliamentary practice and laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria alongside other factors like external, foreign and local exposures played key roles to attain greater heights being celebrated today. And the question remains “Are these found wanting in the leadership of Hon. Benjamin Kalu?”
”The only available response is NO! Time and time again, Hon. Kalu has demonstrated panache and know-how in the affairs of the House. His constituents can attest to the quality of leadership he has delivered to them since 2019 when he was elected. In the House, Hon. Benjamin Kalu is not lacking in experience If truly what determines experience according to the House Rule is that a particular Candidate must not be less than tenure and that tenure means the register of attendance in the House will define whether or not you met the expectation of attendance in the first, second and third year of the House and the register is there to prove that among most candidates for this position from the Southeast, he towers above them.
”While other candidates from the Southeast for the Speakership were in court to determine their fate, Hon. Kalu was already holding the Chairmanship position of the House Committee on Media and Public Affairs and as the Spokesperson of the House, this experience of four years is equivalent to experience received in any citadel of learning where you are awarded a degree in that field.
”Records bear witness that Hon. Kalu has a robust participation in various debates, through the number of bills and motions he has sponsored in the House. It is established that he sponsored one of the highest number of bills among the new members of the House with about 43 bills amongst which 2 or 3 have gotten Presidential Assent, while the others have progressed from one level to the other. This level of competence can only be fueled and sustained by experience and intelligence. Outside the parliament, the public sector experience of Hon. Benjamin Kalu becomes resourceful having been a Local Government Chairman and a two-time member of the State Executive Council in Abia State. His knowledge of the law and constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as a practising Lawyer and an Advocate and Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Nigeria should also be recognized.
”It is important to note that beyond experience, another issue that contributed to the efficiency of the past Speaker is knowledge. It is not enough to be in the House without self-development in basic parliamentary practice.
”You may recall Hon Benjamin Okezie Kalu was the one who moved the first motion of the House HM001 and the first gavel of Rt. Hon Femi Gbajabiamila as the speaker on any motion was moved by Hon Benjamin Kalu. We have seen him handle topical national issues, issues of national importance on tv debates, radio debates, over the media and press conferences, press releases, and press statements and he has been inspiring.
”One of the issues raised by the unregistered civil society organization is the issue of loyalty. We are not unaware of attempts by a certain individual in the Senate to truncate the rise of Hon. Benjamin Kalu to his own advantage. But at every turn of playing the devil’s advocate, he has failed and like the Biblical Balak, what he intends Balaam to do turns out to be an elixir, a blessing for advancement and forward moving.
”The leadership of the House can attest to the dependability of Benjamin Kalu in teamwork, the team spirit of Benjamin Kalu in making sure that the House remains stable, that the relationship of the leadership of the House and members is well managed, that the relationship of the House and other arms of government were handled well without anyone betraying the other. The evidence is there to be gotten on inquiry.
”The next issue that was raised remains a petty issue, the issue of marital issues, which doesn’t demand our comment because of its pettiness as the so-called benefactor who sponsored it before is still the one sponsoring it now, and the only objective of sponsoring it then still remains the objective now which was denying Benjamin Kalu the vote to come back to the House and that failed woefully as the present attempt will.
”These lies were bandied around, cooked up, spread around to make sure that the spotless image of Benjamin Kalu was dented with scandals, the benefactor who conceived this particular idea of spoiling the name of Benjamin Kalu remains with a stigma that he was an ex-convict and the fact remains that as an ex-convict as alleged in his affidavit, he was not even supposed to be in the last election, so for somebody like that to put up a kangaroo group together asking for Benjamin Kalu to be scandalized is something that beats our imagination. The president-elect at the moment was scandalized does it mean that those scandals were true, they were not true and he won his election and will be sworn in as the president of this country, RT Hon Femi Gbajabiamila that is been celebrated today for his efficiency, for his credibility, for capacity was also scandalized during his campaign.
”Ethnic Sentiments: It is also important to note that one of the issues that was raised there was the issues of ethnic sentiments and mediocrity, the decision of who becomes the next speaker should not be based on sentiment and mediocrity. The point remains that Benjamin Okezie Kalu, who represents the entire Nigeria, starting from Bende federal constituency as he always presents himself has shown Nigerians that he is a man who doesn’t recognize the borders of our ethnic lines, the borders of our tongues, the borders of our religion, he is a man who has extended his handshake across the Niger with more friends in other regions, it’s not about ethnicity, it’s about capacity, It’s about preparation for this job.
”A man who took 17 years to prepare himself before coming to House of rep and has added another 4 years making it 21 years has the capacity to do what that office demands as we have seen him in the role of the Spokesperson of the House of Representatives. Never has there been a time that the image of the House was this effective. Hon. Kalu is not running on the basis of being Igbo, rather he is running because he is a prepared, ready-to-go nationalist who believes in the agenda of Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu’s administration.
”We unequivocally demand a retraction of the libellous statement and urge Nigerians of good standing to ignore rumour peddlers and know that a virile, strong and representative House leadership is in supporting Hon. Benjamin Kalu as the next Speaker of the House of Reps”.