Former national chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and candidate of the party in the pending Anambra Central Senatorial District rerun election, Chief Victor Umeh has lamented the absence of former governor of Abia State, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu and himself in the present Senate.
Umeh who spoke at the Holy Family Youth Village, Amansea, Awka North Local Government Area of Anambra State where he presided as the chairman during a solemn inauguration of the 2016/2017 Academic year/a day with the youths, said recent developments at the Senate have shown that Ndigbo lacked strong and courageous voices in the Red Chamber.
At the event where Uzor Kalu delivered a speech titled: “The place of the youths in advancing the desired change,” Umeh paid glowing tribute to the former governor of Abia State whom he said has kept hope alive for the Igbo with what he has been saying and doing.
“I’ve had a long standing relationship with Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, I’ve interacted with him very closely on issues affecting our people and I have always known his mind as somebody who is very bold and courageous. Under the Obasanjo presidency, he was seen as a delinquent child of that era because he always spoke his mind and told the president the things he did wrong, he never shied away from doing that.
“He also floated newspapers the Igbo must take in the morning; if you have not got a copy of The Sun, then you don’t know what is happening around you, he is doing marvellously well in keeping hope alive for our people.
“In the run up to the elections of 2015, having served as governor for eight years, he saw the need to go to the Senate to represent Abia North Senatorial District. I was very happy because I have also put myself forward to contest for Senate for Anambra Central Senatorial District. I was praying very fervently for two of us to win and go to the Senate, to stay in Abuja and you people, the Igbo will see a rare combination in thefight for the right of our people.”
Umeh noted that the dream was scuttled and is still being fought against by those who did not mean well for Ndigbo and who saw their combination as a threat.
“Of course in that election we won, I’m sure he won and I won, they rigged us out because two of us are really people that are under watch so they rigged us out. He headed to the tribunal and at the same time I headed to the tribunal, they denied us justice at the tribunal, both of us went to the Court of Appeal, he got the election nullified in Abia North, my own was nullified here. It offered both of us new hope that we can go back to do that thing we felt people in the Senate are not doing enough. The rerun has taken place in his own senatorial district, my own is still being fought, my own has not even taken place, it’s still pending. I was also arrested in the process, detained and left, I am still in the journey.
“But he has gone for his own rerun and I sent him a message and said, may God bless your effort, win this election for us, even if you are the one that is there alone, something will be happening for our people. I cried when I heard the result that was declared. I think that is over now, my own is still on and I am trying to tell the youths while our pair in this event is very important. I know other opportunities will be created for you to work for us and by the time I conclude my own process, God willing, something different may come up.
The former APGA boss expressed sadness over a recent issue that came up in the Senate and no one spoke for the South-East to the detriment of the geo-political zone. He stressed that in such matters, the boldness and courage of Kalu or himself would have been felt had they been in the Senate.
“The essence of the struggle we have been leading is to make Nigeria a country where equal opportunities will be available to all the citizens of this country irrespective of where you come from. I am happy I read the vice president either in The Sun or New Telegraph two days ago; he said there is need to abolish quota system in Nigeria, that we should embrace merits. Let me hope that those he is working with will agree with him.
“Those of you who are from here, recruitment exercises in Nigeria, the armed forces, federal agencies and others do not favour you. You do not have equal opportunities with others and it is the reason why we want to work hard to see if we can change things for our people.
“There was one that was very awkward, the Police recruitment. They were to share the plot available in this exercise to the 36 states and the FCT in other words. 10,000 places should have been shared to 36 plus one, that is 37 but one day, I was watching the television one Senator from Kano got and spoke that recruitment should be on the basis of local governments and not states. Nobody challenged it at the Senate from here and I felt emptiness for the Igbo nation. 724 local governments against 36 states plus FCT, who will lose in that exercise? Our people, because we have 95 local governments, they know what they are doing and eventually they said recruitment should be done on the basis of local governments. Somebody should have stood up to say no, local government cannot take the place of the federating units, but it went on.”
He, therefore, charged the youths to open their eyes as they grow up and know their challenges as a people and know how to engage themselves.