• Wednesday, February 21, 2024
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Reps’ speakership: Niger Delta group roots for Abia-born Benjamin Kalu

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Other groups may be rooting for their kinsmen to occupy leadership positions in the incoming national parliament, but a group in the Niger Delta has endorsed a second-term House of Representatives member from Abia State, Benjamin Kalu, solely to fight against crude oil theft.

The group, the Niger Delta Rights Advocates (NDRA), told newsmen in Port Harcourt that their burning interest is in installing the right man as speaker.

Speaking at the press interaction, Bright Ngolo, said: “Our interest is ‘Project Nigeria’ with priority for setting a legislative framework that will banish poverty in our region by reducing gas flaring, crude oil stealing, increase in entrepreneurship through deliberate encouragement of artisanal refiners, licensing of more modular refineries, and promoting a green environment in the interest of our unborn generations as Niger Delta people.”

He said that NDRA, being a frontline advocacy group in the region, has worked tirelessly in the 4th Republic to ensure the protection of the lives and livelihood of the long-suffering people of our region whose aquatic flora and fauna has experienced the worst form of devastation owing to crude exploitation and exploration.

“Our group therefore owes a duty to our people and indeed Nigerians not to fall for the age-long debate of zoning, religion, class or age which are sentiments and gimmicks crafted by political oppressors in order to continuously hold down the oppressed.

“The NDRA stands on the platform of merit, service, patriotic zeal, transparency and loyalty to the Nigerian project which are vital ingredients to unshackle our people from the twin evil of poverty and ignorance. Therefore, we are emboldened to set a clear agenda for the leadership that we wish for Nigerians, which must be built on transparency, accountability, trust, intelligence and above all youthfulness.

“We cannot talk about the leadership of the most important arm of the National Assembly, which aggregates the totality of our diversities as a people, without talking about getting a leadership that will prioritise the needs of the long-suffering and marginalised people whether they are found in the Niger Delta or Benue or Kafanchan or Kaura Namode.”

The group said their interest is Project Nigeria with a priority on setting a legislative framework that will banish poverty in our region by reducing gas flaring, and crude oil stealing, increasing entrepreneurship by deliberately encouraging artisanal refiners, licensing more modular refineries and promoting a green environment in the interest of our unborn generations as Niger Delta people.

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In recent days, he went on, “We have read of very pedestrian and jaundiced reasons why positions should be zoned or allocated to certain individuals which we find very ridiculous and insulting to our collective sensibilities as Nigerians. We have also read personal attacks, rendition of ethnic jingoism, unnecessary sense of entitlements, attempts at projecting strongmen rather than institutions etc, etc. All these points to one thing – the lack of democratic credentials by all those who seek to market and introduce obviously unqualified candidates to the Nigerian people as Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives.

“The NDRA is minded therefore to throw our weight behind someone who brings what we call generational balance in the current leadership equation of the country and also an intellectually brilliant fellow – Hon Benjamin Kalu, the member representing Bende Federal Constituency and current spokesperson of the House of Representatives; a 2nd term member of the Green Chamber and sole survivor in the APC of the electoral dynamics that swept away many strong and mighty including the sitting Governor of Abia State in the February 25th 2023 elections. That this man survived the popular test of his people who returned him through the ballot as the only member of the House of Representatives on the APC ticket from Abia State.”

Politically speaking, he said, no candidate vying on the platform of the ruling APC can win the Speakership position through the votes of APC Rep members alone. Since voting would be across party lines and members of the APC, PDP, NNPP, LP, ADC, APGA and SDP will all vote to decide who gets the job, it, therefore, requires that a candidate with multi-party acceptability be put forward and Representative Benjamin Kalu fits the bill.

“From our calculations, if you aggregate the number of all Rep members from the opposition political parties and have them vote en-mass for any candidate, there will be an upset. Therefore, the APC must do the right thing by choosing a pan-Nigerian candidate in the person of Representative Benjamin Kalu, a member representing Bende Federal Constituency and current House Spokesperson of the 9th Assembly in order to give Nigerians a Speaker who embodies national and not ethnic, regional or religious sentiments. For us and our allies across the country, we do believe that the mandate of Speaking for all Nigerians should rest on the young and energetic shoulders of this Nigerian. Having contributed immensely to the growth of the democratic process with the sponsorship of over 43 bills, combining it effortlessly with the task of building bridges across several interests to stabilize the leadership of the 9th House of Representatives; serving as a member of the critical committee on the NDDC which has given him firsthand knowledge of the sufferings of the Niger Delta people; we reason that it would cost us more as a nation if we keep sacrificing our best brains on the altar of primordial sentiments.”

The emergence of Kalu, he said, would change the complexion and complexities of politics in the South East and by extension Nigeria because he brings to the table the much-talked-about handshake across the Niger.

“Kalu’s speakership by God’s grace, will adequately capture the very critical demographics of our national lives that have so agitated for proper inclusion and representation. Yes, his emergence will answer the question of the inclusivity of the youths of this country and give a voice to an emerging generation of unsung heroes.

“Let the Nigerian spirit be rekindled. Though tribes and tongues may differ in brotherhood, we shall stand behind Rep Benjamin Kalu. The NDRA therefore presents to Nigerians, an agent that emblematizes our quest for a Renewed Hope!”