By Emmanuel Mogbede
A former Governor of Abia state, Orji Uzor Kalu, facing trial by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission today made a surprise defection to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
He said God would use him to add value to the party.
Kalu was received at the APC National Headquarters, Abuja, by the party’s National Chairman, Chief John Odige-Oyegun and members of the National Working Committee (NWC).
He said that his defection to the APC was made possible by the persistence of some of the party’s chieftains who had been wooing him for some time.
According to him, 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 my 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’’.
Kalu, however, said that it was a privilege to be accepted into the party, adding that he would abide by its laws while remaining a good party man.
He thanked the APC national chairman and other party chieftains for the confidence they reposed in him and for making him join the party.
He assured that states being governed by opposition parties in the South-East and other parts of the country presently 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’’.
He prayed that the APC will continue to wax stronger .
He also prayed for continued support to President Mohammed Buhari 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.
He expressed optimism that the APC would survive beyond 2019 contrary to the predictions of some Nigerians.
“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,’’ he said.
He, however, said that he would not contest any position, but 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’’.
Odigie-Oyegun, described the politician as a positive asset not only to the South-East, but to APC and Nigeria, who could be used to resolve the country`s challenges.
He 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.
He 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 governor, who defected from the Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA), that he would be given his rightful place in the APC.
He added that though the country was going through difficulties that was not created by the APC-led government, the party was determined to address it.
On 31 October, the EFCC in an amended charge accused Orji Kalu and two others of fraud and diversion of N3.2billion, property of Abia State.
Kalu, his company, Slok Nigeria Limited and his former Commissioner for Finance, Jones Udeogo, were re-arraigned before Justice Anwuri Chikere of the Federal High Court, Abuja on Tuesday.
Kalu was Abia governor between 1999 and 2007.