Former Abia State Governor, Dr Orji Uzor Kalu, officially joined the All Progressive Congress on Wednesday.
Kalu joined the party at the National Secretariat and was received by the party chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun. Other members of the National Working Committee of the party were also present.
In his speech, Kalu said his defection to the APC was made possible after pressure from his friends and supporters. They wanted him to contribute his quota to building the party in the South East and Nigeria. He prayed that God would use him to add value to the party.
“I was invited to dinner over 20 times by some of the party’s chieftains, including the national chairman, while the wooing lasted. They had been on by neck, asking that I must come over to APC and the national chairman always buys me red wine.”
“My red wine is still packed in his house and I visit his place regularly to chat because we attend the same church.”
Joining APC – A Priviledge
Kalu, however, said that it was a privilege to be accepted into the party. He added that he would abide by its laws, while remaining a good party man.
He thanked Odigie-Oyegun and other party chieftains for the confidence they reposed in him and for making him join the party.
Kalu further assured them that South East states would be delivered to the APC in 2019.
“God will help us to achieve this, but the most important thing is the ability to consult, discuss and move forward. Nobody is an embodiment of knowledge; knowledge is in the hands of God and He will always give us knowledge.”
Kalu prayed that the APC continued to wax stronger. He also prayed its leaders will sustain their support for the president in his quest to develop the country and fight corruption.
Kalu expressed optimism that though the country was going through rough times, good policy formulation would help to lessen the suffering of the people.
APC Will Live Beyond 2019
The former governor also dismissed insinuations that the APC would disintegrate before 2019. He expressed confidence that the party had come to stay. He said contrary to predictions, APC would live beyond 2019.
“Nobody can say that APC cannot go beyond 2019. Nigerians should change this behaviour that after every four years when there is presidential election, people will start saying they want to change party.”
“APC has come to stay in my opinion and in the opinion of other people and the international community. If APC is going and its members that welcomed me here today are going, I will go with them.”
I Joined At The Right Time
Kalu further stated that he has joined the party at the right time. He said he was invited to the party by people who place a huge value on his political value.
“All my friends are here. I am not saying my friends are not in the other party but it’s time to take stock. It is important to go along family lines in order to rebrand Nigeria. I am back to join where my family are.
“If I had joined earlier at the time they were forming government, it would look like I am trying to join them to form government. This is the right time for me to join because this is the middle time between now and the next season to do politics. I am joining now to be able to play raw politics.”
We Will Deliver South-East in 2019
Orji Uzor Kalu further maintained that his decision would help convince people in the South-East to join the party. It will show them that “the APC is an all inclusive party which has the growth and development of Nigeria as the reason for its existence.”
He announced that since he registered in his ward on Sunday, over 4,800 others had registered as members of the party.
Kalu also disclosed that two sitting members of the House of Representatives from Abia would soon join the APC too.
However, he said he would not contest any position. He added that he would accept any role the party may find him worthy of playing.
“Once you are a party man and you are given a mandate to do anything, you will do it. But for me, I am an entrepreneur and I will like to go back to my business.”
We Got A Political Asset -APC
Chairman of the All Progressive Congress, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun described the Orji Uzor Kalu as a positive asset. According to him, he is not only an asset to the South East, but to APC and Nigeria. He could be used to resolve the country’s challenges.
Oyegun explained that the party’s chieftains took time to woo Kalu to the party because of his attributes of resilience and commitment over the years.
“Given the attachment of the South East before now, it was also necessary to go out for leaders who can contribute positively, who people listen to and you fall into that category.”
“Your coming and timing is very significant. But I must say that you have a lot of work to do to consolidate our party in the East.”
Odigie-Oyegun said that the APC would depend on Kalu to win not only states in the South East but the South-South in 2019. He assured the former Abia State governor that he would be given his rightful place in the APC.
He further added that the country was going through difficulties which was not created by the APC-led government. However, he stressed that the party was determined to address it.
Orji Uzor Kalu decamped to the ruling APC from Progressives Peoples Alliance, a party he founded in 2006.
Kalu is currently standing trial on 34 counts of money laundering to the tune of N3.2bn. He was arraigned by the EFCC before the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court on October 31.